Fix leaking Shower Arm

How to Fix a Leaking Shower Arm

If your shower leaks from the shower arm, you might need one of two things: a simple fix, or a somewhat major repair. This will depend on the leak location and your plumbing set-up.

A shower arm is the short length of the pipe that comes out of the wall and connects to the shower head. Shower arms typically have a slight bend near their middle, and almost always have threads on both ends. One end thread goes into a fitting inside the wall called a drop ear elbow. The other end receives the shower head, which turns on the exposed end of the arm.

The first step in dealing with a shower leaking from a shower arm, is to determine exactly where the leak is coming from before considering if a professional shower repair service is required.

Where shower arms can leak

Damaging the shower arm while replacing the shower head is surprisingly common. A shower arm can break in the wall or cause the vertical pipe in the wall to break, if too much pressure is applied while unscrewing the shower head or shower arm.

The shower arm can also be damaged from the repeated pressure of adjusting the shower head over the years, so try to be gentle!

Sometimes the threaded end attached to the shower head is damaged. More problematic is when pressure on the shower arm harms the connection inside the wall. Another possibility is that either of the threaded joints is simply not sealing properly.

Leaking at the shower head

If your shower leaking seems to be coming from the base of the shower head, check for a crack in the shower head and the shower arm. Many shower heads appear to be made from metal, but are plastic with a chrome finish. Plastic cracks much more easily than metal, although metal can crack too.

If there are no visible cracks, try the following fixes:

  • Unscrew the shower head. If necessary, hold the shower arm with pliers to keep it from turning. A top tip to preventing scratching: wrap the pliers’ jaws in masking tape.
  • Clean the threads of the shower arm, removing any old plumber’s tape, pipe-joint compound, and mineral deposits.
  • Wrap plumber’s tape around the threads of the shower arm in the same direction the shower head will twist back on.
  • Reinstall the shower head, tightening till very snug. You shouldn’t need to tighten the shower head with pliers, but if the process proves difficult hold the shower arm with one pair of pliers, and tighten the shower head with another pair.
  • Test the connection for leaks. If it still leaks, tighten the shower head a bit more. If that doesn’t stop the leak, replace the shower arm.

Leaking inside the wall

Now it’s time to consider the drop ear elbow. As with the shower head, the threaded connection between the shower arm and the elbow can leak.

The remedy is similar to the shower head fix. Remove the shower arm, clean the threads, and reinstall the arm (or replace if cracked or corroded) using a new application of plumber’s tape. Note the arm simply twists into the elbow, like a bolt into a nut.

Be careful not to cross-thread the connection when you begin turning. Also, take care not to over-tighten the arm, risking damage to the elbow or pipe.

If something went wrong during the process or you can’t isolate the issue, the AllSealedWA team can help with any Perth shower repairs. Get in touch and we’ll organise an obligation free consultation that clarifies your shower leak repair needs.

Give us a call at (08) 6007 3164