There’s no denying that a leaky shower head can be extremely annoying. Not only is the constant drip of water an irritating sound to live with, but you might start to worry about how it will affect your water usage and the impact this could have on both your household bills and the planet. Plus, a leaking shower head could lead to further problems, such as mould and structural damage to your property.

With all this in mind, it’s important that you don’t leave a leaky shower head for too long. To help you work out why this is happening and what you can do about it, keep reading. 

Why is my shower head dripping?

Similar to a dripping tap, there are a number of reasons why your shower head might be leaking, and it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly why it’s happening until you take a closer look.

One of the most common reasons behind this problem is a buildup of dirt, grime and limescale in and around the rubber jets of the shower head, causing blockages which can affect the flow of water from the shower and may result in intermittent leaks.

Your shower will feature a seal component commonly known as the O-ring or rubber washer. This is a black rubber seal which prevents water from leaking between the shower head and hose. However, if these inner seals are worn down, you may notice water starts to leak out, causing the shower head to drip. In some cases, a damaged shower valve is to blame for a leaking shower head.

How to fix a leaky shower head

Sussing out why your shower head is leaking can be a process of elimination, but once you’ve established the cause of the issue, fixing it can be quick and easy. Below, we’ve outlined step-by-step instructions to explain how you can solve this issue yourself.

1. Turn off your water supply

It might sound obvious, but make sure your water supply is turned off before you start any work. You can do this by locating your internal stop tap, which is sometimes also referred to as a stop valve or stop cock. This can usually be found under the kitchen sink, but it can also be found in an airing cupboard or, in some cases, under the floorboards.
You should be able to turn the valve clockwise to close it and reduce the amount of water passing through until it eventually stops altogether. It might take a few minutes for the water to completely stop, and you may want to keep a towel nearby in case there is any trapped water that may seep out.

2. Clean the shower head

It’s a good idea to start by giving the shower head a thorough clean - especially if a buildup of dirt, grime and limescale on the shower head is affecting the performance of the shower unit.

There are a number of branded cleaning products available in supermarkets that are specially designed to effectively clean this part of the shower. However, you could create your own cleaning solution using a mix of distilled white vinegar in warm water instead. Not only is this a more affordable way to clean your shower head, it also doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals that could damage the shower itself.

If you have a handheld shower head, remove it from the hose by simply unscrewing it and place it into a plastic container, such as a bucket. Pour your cleaning solution onto the shower head and allow it to soak for around 30 minutes to an hour. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the shower head to remove any stubborn dirt, paying special attention to the rubber jets. You should then turn your water supply on to rinse the shower head to remove any residue.

If you have a fixed shower head, take a plastic bag and half fill it with your cleaning solution. Place the bag containing the solution over the shower head until it is completely submerged, fixing it in place with an elastic band. Leave the shower head to soak in the solution for 30 minutes to an hour before turning your water supply back on to rinse it.

3. Check the seal

Over time, it’s not unusual for the O-ring or rubber washer seal component to wear down or become damaged, causing the shower to leak. So it’s worth checking to see if it needs to be replaced with a new one. You can purchase replacement seals online or from your local hardware store.

4. Reattach the shower head and turn your water supply on

Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the shower head and checked the seal, you should reattach the parts together. Ideally, the shower head should no longer leak. However, if it continues to do so, you may want to move onto step five.

5. Check the shower valve

If your shower head is still leaking, there may be a problem with the valve in your shower taps. For showers with two separate taps (one for cold water and one for hot water), you’ll need to first establish which one is causing the problem by feeling the temperature of the dripping water. Once you’ve determined which one is causing the leak, you should unscrew the handle of the tap and check the condition of the rubber seals to see if they need to be replaced.

Although this sounds like a simple process, it can be a tricky task, so you might want to enlist the help of a qualified plumber to carry out this work on your behalf - especially if you have tried the above steps and you are still experiencing a dripping shower head.

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