Adding a rain shower head to your existing shower is a great way to upgrade your bathing experience without undergoing a full bathroom renovation. Rain shower heads are different than traditional shower heads in that they have a much wider spray area, giving you the feeling of showering in a gentle summer rain. Not only do they feel great, but they also look sleek and modern.
Upgrading to a rain shower head is a relatively easy project that most homeowners can tackle in an afternoon. With some basic plumbing skills and tools, you can remove your old shower head and install a new rainhead in its place. This article will walk you step-by-step through the rain shower head installation process, from choosing the right product to mounting it securely on your wall. We’ll also provide tips to make the project go smoothly.
By the end, you’ll be enjoying a relaxing, spa-like shower experience right in your own home. The transformation is amazing!
Table of Contents
Choosing a Rain Shower Head
Shower Head Style
The first step in adding a rain shower head is choosing the right rainhead unit for your bathroom and shower setup. There are a few styles to consider:
- Rainfall shower heads – These shower heads mount directly to the ceiling and mimic tropical rainfall. They require special plumbing and installation.
- Rainfall shower systems – These have a shower head and overhead piping system. They also require special installation.
- Standard rain shower heads – These mount to your existing shower arm and are the easiest to install.
For DIY installation, a standard rain shower head that mounts to your current shower arm is likely the simplest option.
Shower Head Features
Standard rain shower heads come in round and square shapes, different sizes, with different types of faceplates, and an array of shower head features:
- Faceplate finish – Chrome and brushed nickel are popular finishes that match most bathroom decor. Oil-rubbed bronze and matte black are also options.
- Adjustable metal arm – Some rainhead shower arms can angle and lock into place.
- Water pressure – Look for a rain shower head that has good water coverage and pressure control.
- Low-flow – To help conserve water, select an EPA WaterSense approved low-flow shower head.
- Filters – Shower heads with filters keep hard water deposits and sediment out of the nozzles.
- Shower head material – Pick chrome, stainless steel or acrylic plastic. Acrylic withstands mineral buildup longer.
Match Your Plumbing
Be sure to select a rain shower head that will fit your plumbing configuration:
- Shower arm thread type – Most shower arms have 1/2″ NPT threads, but some older homes have non-standard IPS threads. Match the shower arm size.
- Shower arm length – Standard shower arms extend 6 inches from the wall. Measure yours to get the right extension length.
- Water pressure – Check your home’s water pressure and pick a shower head rated for that PSI.
With the right rain shower head choice made for your setup, it’s time to move onto installation.
Removing the Old Shower Head
Once you’ve selected your new rain shower head, the first part of the installation process is removing the existing shower head. Here are the steps:
Turn Off Water Supply
Before doing any work, locate the shutoff valve for the shower and turn off the water supply. This is usually under the sink or near the water meter. Turning off the water prevents messy surprises during shower head removal!
Inspect Shower Arm for Damage
With the water off, take a close look at the chrome pipe (shower arm) extending from the wall. Check for any cracks or damage before attempting to unscrew the shower head. Replace the shower arm if needed.
Loosen Shower Head
If your shower head has been in place for years, it may be stuck on tight with mineral deposits. Letting it soak with vinegar can help loosen the connection.
Otherwise, brace one hand behind the shower arm for support. With your other hand, twist the shower head counter-clockwise to unscrew it. It should loosen with some force.
Remove Old Teflon Tape
Once the old shower head is off, inspect the shower arm threads. Remove any remaining old Teflon tape so the new head can get a tight seal.
With the prep work done, it’s time to add the new rain shower head!
Installing the New Rain Shower Head
Installing a rain shower head uses many of the same steps as a standard shower head. Follow these instructions to ensure it’s mounted properly:
Clean Shower Arm
Use a rag to wipe the shower arm threads clean of any buildup like soap scum or minerals. Remove all debris so the new connection will be tight.
Apply New Teflon Tape
Wrap the shower arm threads with 4-5 layers of fresh Teflon tape. This will provide a watertight seal when you screw on the new head. Wrap the tape clockwise starting from the bottom of the arm.
Screw On New Shower Head
Line up the new rain shower head with the shower arm. Hand tighten it clockwise onto the arm, using the Teflon tape to get a tight connection.
Secure with Wrench
For a leak-proof seal, finish tightening the shower head firmly using a wrench or pliers covered with a rag to prevent scratching the chrome finish.
Turn On Water Supply
Turn the water supply back on from the shutoff valve. Check for leaks! Tighten further if needed.
Test New Rain Shower Head
Turn on the shower and test out your new rain shower! Adjust the angle as desired.
Troubleshooting Rain Shower Head Installation
If you follow the steps above, installing a new rain shower head is usually straightforward. But here are some troubleshooting tips for potential issues:
Leaks Around the Head
If you notice leaks around the shower head connection, try tightening it further with a wrench to compress the Teflon tape. Make sure you wrapped enough tape. Adding more can help.
Loose Shower Head
If the shower head won’t stay tightened, the shower arm threads may be damaged. Try adding more Teflon tape to make up for gaps or cracks. If still loose, the shower arm may need replacement.
Low Water Pressure
Check that your new shower head’s rating matches your home’s water pressure. Try removing any water pressure restrictors if pressure seems lower than expected.
Hard water can leave mineral residue that clogs the shower head’s nozzles. Remove and soak it in vinegar, or replace nozzle caps if needed. Using a filter washer can prevent deposits.
Enjoying Your New Rain Shower Head
Once installed, it’s time to enjoy your new rain shower! Here are some tips for getting the most out of your upgrade:
Position Yourself Under the Stream
One of the great things about rain shower heads is that they cover a wider area than traditional shower heads. Position yourself directly under the stream to get the full raindrop effect cascading down on you.
Install a Waterproof Speaker
Music and rain go hand-in-hand! Install a waterproof Bluetooth speaker in your shower and create a spa-like atmosphere with your favorite relaxing audio.
Use a Shower Curtain
Because the water pattern is so wide, rain shower heads can create a very wet bathroom! Installing a shower curtain, keeping the curtain inside the tub, and angling the head away from the curtain can help keep the floor dry.
Adjust the Flow Rate
Most rain shower heads have rub-clean nozzles that allow you to change the flow pattern and turn the droplets from a relaxing rain to an invigorating jet stream. Adjust as desired!
Create a Spa Space
Finish off your new rain shower spa by adding some aromatherapy shower steamers, essential oil soap, a waterproof light, and some soft rugs to pamper your feet before and after showering.
Invest in a Water Softener
If you have hard water, a water softener can keep mineral buildup from clogging your rain shower head’s nozzles and improve flow. This will maximize the lifespan.
Clean Nozzles Regularly
To keep your rain shower head working like new, clean the nozzles every few months by removing any buildup. Soak in vinegar, use a toothpick, or purchase a specialty showerhead cleaning brush.
Maintaining Your Rain Shower Head
Like any fixture, rain shower heads require occasional maintenance to keep working properly over time. Follow these tips:
Check all the connections and parts of your rain shower head every few months for signs of wear or issues. Address any leaks or damage right away.
Clean the Nozzles
As mentioned, regularly remove nozzle buildup by soaking in vinegar or scrubbing. Clogged nozzles reduce pressure.
Treat the Finish Gently
Clean your rain shower head’s finish gently using only mild dish soap, water, and a soft cloth to prevent scratches and water spots. Avoid harsh cleaners.
Filter Hard Water
In hard water areas, use a shower head filter washer to catch minerals and sediment before they reach the nozzles. Replace 3-6 month.
Flush the Pipes
Running very hot water through the shower pipes and head can help dissolve buildup. Just be cautious of scalding and let it cool before using again.
Check Connections Yearly
Once a year, inspect the shower arm connection and all parts of the rain shower head for damage. Tighten or re-tape leaky joints.
Replace Worn Parts
If any parts like the shower arm, faceplate, or nozzles show heavy wear, replace them as needed to keep your rain shower like new.
With occasional TLC, your rain shower head can provide an amazing spa-like experience for years of daily enjoyment!
Alternatives to Adding a Rain Shower Head
If installing a rain shower head won’t work with your existing plumbing setup, here are a few alternative options:
Handheld Shower Head
Handheld shower heads often have settings that mimic the feel of rain. Look for massage, rain, and misting modes when selecting a model.
Rainfall Shower Panel System
Shower panels install vertically on a wall and combine standard plumbing with rain-simulation shower heads and body sprays for a spa experience.
Rain Shower System Retrofit
For standard showers, conversion kits can add the piping, shower arm, and rain shower head needed to create a rain shower without replumbing.
Bathtub Faucet Rainfall Head
Faucet-mounted rainfall shower heads can transform your tub into a relaxing spa soak. Look for models that attach easily to standard tub faucets.
Plumb a Rain System into New Bathroom
If remodeling, install rainfall shower system plumbing to enjoy the full tropical rainstorm effect. Consult with your contractor on the possibilities.
While not as simple as a rain shower head installation, these options all allow you to capture the essence of a rain shower in spaces with different plumbing configurations. Get creative!
FAQs About Adding a Rain Shower Head
What size Allen wrench do I need to install a rain shower head?
Most rain shower heads include the necessary Allen key. If not, you likely need a 2.5mm hex for tightening set screws. Have this size ready just in case.
Do I need two hands to install a rain shower head?
Yes, you’ll need one hand holding the shower arm steady and the other hand turning the shower head onto the arm threads. Doing it alone minimizes risk of bending the arm.
How do I get more pressure from my rain shower head?
Check that your home water pressure meets the shower head’s PSI rating. Remove any restrictors, clean nozzles regularly, or upgrade plumbing with a pressure balance valve to maximize rain shower pressure.
Can I install my rain shower head sideways or angled?
Most rain shower heads are designed to face straight down for optimal coverage. Some models have an adjustable arm allowing angled installation. Consult the specifications of your particular unit.
Is a rain shower head better than a regular shower head?
Rain shower heads offer a more luxurious, spa-like experience from the wide water coverage drenching your whole body. The sensory sensation makes it feel like a real rainstorm! Most users find rain showers more enjoyable.
Adding a rain shower head is one of the easiest ways to upgrade any standard shower. With a few tools and a bit of handiwork, you can install a rainhead unit in an afternoon or less. The transformation is simply amazing. As the wide water droplets cascade down on you like a summer rain storm, you’ll wonder why you didn’t install one sooner!
By following the steps outlined here for choosing the right rain shower head model, properly removing the old shower head, installing the new one, troubleshooting any issues, keeping up with maintenance, and exploring alternatives, you can successfully revitalize your current shower.
Soon you’ll look forward to a relaxing sensory experience every time you step into your new spa-like rain shower. The soothing sounds and sensations are heavenly after a long day. So pick out that perfect rain shower head and start your upgrade today! The comfort and enjoyment are well worth it.