Can’t Remove Shower Head: Reasons Why and Fixes

You have planned to clean and fix your shower head for the longest time. Finally, today is the day you are all set, but, annoyingly, the showerhead won’t budge. It’s stuck! Showerheads are meant to be flexible so that you can easily remove and fix them. However, for varied reasons, that’s not always the case. If you can’t remove the showerhead by hand or with a little help from the wrench, it’s likely stuck.

If the showerhead is stuck, use pliers or a wrench to first turn it clockwise to dislodge the calcium buildup, then counterclockwise to remove the showerhead. If this doesn’t work, use vinegar, a penetrating lubricant, or a calcium, rust and lime remover. It’s caused by age, rust, and calcification.

It’s imperative to act fast in fixing a dripping or leaking showerhead to conserve water. You also avoid constantly having wet bathroom floors that could cause fall accidents. Worry not. Read on to learn why showerheads get stuck and how you can remove and fix them.

Removing Showerhead with Wrench

Why is My Showerhead Stuck?

Several reasons can lead to a showerhead getting stuck. Here are common ones:

1. Rust

The shower head connects to the shower arm. The point where they join is constantly exposed to water and air. These two are the main prerequisites for rust. Gradually, rust forms around the joint, fastening the showerhead further and making it stuck.

During installation, you need to be keen and evaluate the kind of metal used for the shower arm. The reason being some metals will rust easily compared to others.

For instance, silver metal will rust faster than a copper-coated shower arm. Likewise, any ferrous metal is unsuitable for your shower arm given constant exposure to water, leading to oxidization and eventual rusting.

2. Minerals Buildup

If the water you use in your shower contains a lot of mineral components, in the end, the deposits will lead to the showerhead getting stuck.

What happens is that the showerhead acts as a filter blocking the penetration of these mineral deposits. Then, gradually, the deposits form a thick scum that interferes with the shower connections.

The mineral deposits are common if you are using well water. To avoid the constant build-up, you can install a whole house filter to ensure that all the water supplied to all the water points is purified.

3. Calcification

Water that has high calcium content is a major cause of the showerheads getting stuck. The calcium content, just like mineral deposits, is sieved and left behind, causing clogging and tightening the showerhead further.

Look at the whitish layer left behind in your bathroom wall to understand calcification, especially on the lower level of your wall if your water is hard.

Calcification of the showerhead will not only make it stick but will also reduce the water pressure. Imagine taking a shower under just droplets of water due to the calcification. It’s annoying.

4. Age

Old showerheads lose their grip as time progresses. The thread where the showerhead is connected to the shower arm wears off, making the two stick together. Learning how to remove old shower heads helps you change them when you want to modernize the bathroom.

After some years, the air gaps and constant water exposure will have the showerhead sticking due to rusting. A shower head can also be stuck with Teflon tape when you used too much of the tape to tighten it.

How to Remove a Stuck Showerhead

There are several approaches you can use to remove the stuck showerhead.  Most of these methods do not require a lot of tools. 

Before diving into removing the stuck showerheads, let’s look at the preparations necessary. You need to:

  • Turn off the water supply to the shower. This is necessary as there may be water held along the pipe. If the shower is leaking, water may continue running as you remove the showerhead.
  • Have a rag or a cloth on the floor where the dirt, rust and build-up collect. 
  • Evaluate why the showerhead is stuck. Look out for signs of rust at the point where the showerhead is connected to the shower arm. Also, check for build-up such as whitish scum around the same point. Knowing the reason behind the sticking will help you decide on the best approach to remove the showerhead.

Here is how to remove a stuck showerhead:

Using Pliers/Wrench

You need either a set of pliers or a wrench to loosen a shower head. Follow the following steps:

  1. Cover the connector at the edge of the showerhead with a cloth or plumbers tape. This is to protect the nut from wearing off due to the pliers’ teeth.
  2. Grab and fasten the wrench to the size of the nut. Turn the wrench or pliers clockwise and anticlockwise rhythmically to loosen it.
  3. Once loose, finish unscrewing with your hand.

The wrench is the best tool to remove a shower head. When removing the shower head, be careful not to drop the shower head since it may get damaged. A wrench is also used if you want to remove a shower head that is glued on.

Use Vinegar

You may feel weak turning the connector with the pliers or wrench. In that case, using vinegar is your best bet to take off a shower head without a wrench.

White vinegar is acidic and can thus soak the rust and the build-up that could have led to the showerhead sticking. 

Follow these steps:

  1. Get a polythene bag and fill it up with white vinegar.
  2. Tie the bag to the showerhead extending it to the shower arm.
  3. Leave the bag for a few hours or even for a night.
  4. With your hand, turn the now flexible shower head with your hand.

If it’s still tough to remove the stuck shower head by hand, use pliers or a wrench to disconnect the shower head. Vinegar is also used if you want to remove a shower head ball joint.

Use a Penetrating Lubricant

Another option if the shower head won’t unscrew is soaking it up in penetrating lubricant such as the WD-40. WD-40 has many uses in the home and is also used to clean shower doors.

Follow these steps:

  1. Point the nozzle of the lubricant to the connector of the showerhead. Apply lightly around the nut, ensuring that the connector is well saturated all around. Allow it to soak for around 2 hours.
  2. Check whether the nut has loosened by turning it in the anti-clockwise direction with the pliers.
  3. If not yet loose, apply a second coat and allow it to sit for around three hours. Then turn and remove the now loose showerhead.

This method should get a stuck shower head off in no time. Penetrating lubricants such as WD-40 are very effective at removing a stuck shower head without tools.

Find an Expert

Once you have exhausted all the above options and still can’t remove a shower head that is stuck, then it’s time to engage a professional plumber.

The good thing with a professional is that they get to the root cause and will advise you on avoiding similar problems in the future. At times, you may need to replace valves and faucets and even pipes which are beyond repair.

How to Replace a Showerhead

You have decided it’s out with the old, in with the fresh new look showerhead. To achieve that, you need to replace the showerhead.

Here are what you need for the exercise:

  • Thread seal tape
  • Pliers and a wrench
  • Ladder 
  • An old toothbrush or a small size wire brush
  • Wide cloth and a small one

Once you have these in place, follow these steps:

1. Turn Off the Shower

The shower must be completely off to avoid water spilling on you as you replace the head. 

2. Spread the Cloth

You don’t want to stain the floor with the buildup and rust from the old showerhead. Instead, spread the cloth so the dirt doesn’t hit the ground.

3. Remove the Showerhead

Use the small cloth and the pliers to hold the shower pipe in place. This is important as it protects the pipe from disintegrating as you exert more energy on the showerhead as you remove it.

Adjust the wrench to grip the showerhead connector, then turn counterclockwise until it loosens. Once loose, use your hand to twist and remove the showerhead.

4. Clean the Shower Arm

Using the old toothbrush or wire brush, gently scrub the edge of the pipe where the showerhead will connect.

5. Apply Thread Tape

Make three rounds of the tape on the edge you have cleaned.

6. Attach New Showerhead

The final step is attaching the new showerhead. Twist to tighten but avoid overdoing it in case you want to repeat the process in the future.

Turn on the water and observe any leakages. Make sure they’re not leaks from the toilet which can appear when the bathroom has a toilet and shower.


Different reasons can cause a showerhead to stick. The reasons may vary depending on the type of contaminants present in your water. Rust on the shower arm is the next major cause of getting stuck.

Arm yourself with the right tools and fix the problem, and if all the options fail, get a professional to handle it.

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