How to Install a Handheld Shower Head: the Steps

Thanks to its flexibility, a handheld shower head is an excellent addition to your bathroom experience. It allows you to direct the water to the exact area you need with the flexible hose. Even if your bathroom doesn’t have one, you can easily add it in a few simple steps.  

To install a handheld shower head, remove the old shower head, attach the valve, attach the hose, and finish with the handheld shower head. Always check for leaks after the shower head is in place. The installation process depends on the type of fitting you have installed.

The main types of fittings are the standard, the cross-T diverter fitting, and the tub spout diverter. Each of these fittings has advantages and disadvantages; you can change it as you want.  

Fixing a shower head

Installing a Handheld Shower Head: The Steps

For this procedure, you need channel-type pliers, an adjustable wrench, a piece of cloth, a plumber’s tape (Teflon tape), and a Hex-head screw (Allen screwdriver).

Installing the best handheld shower heads is quite simple with these tools. Your handheld shower head can be installed in the steps below with the assumption that already, you have fixtures, such as the piping, in place.

Step 1: Remove the Current Shower Head/Spout 

The first step entails the following: 

a. Normal Fixture 

The current shower head should be removed with the adjustable wrench or channel-type pliers from the pipe jutting out of the wall. Protect its finish by wrapping a cloth around the nut and then turning the wrench counterclockwise.  

After a few turns with the wrench, most shower heads will be easy enough to turn with the hand. Doing it with the hand prevents accidental falls, which may damage the shower head. 

b. Tub Spout 

If you’re removing a tub spout, you may need the Allen screwdriver. This type would be a slip-on spout and as soon as you loosen the setscrew with the Allen screwdriver, you simply slide it out from the arm.  

Without a setscrew, it would be a standard threaded spout. Loosen it with the adjustable wrench, then turn it counterclockwise until it comes off.  

Step 2: Prepare the Shower Arm/Spout 

After that, clean the remaining shower stem to remove rust and debris on the threads. Wrap the threaded area with the plumber’s tape to prevent leaks once you install the new setup. The tape should be tied on the threads in a clockwise direction (the direction followed by the threads towards the shower arm’s base). A single layer of threading tape is usually enough.  

Step 3: Attach the New Fitting 

The particular fixture you’ll be having is attached as follows: 

a. Standard Fitting 

The standard fitting requires the attachment of the handheld shower head onto the existing shower stem, just like you would have done if you were returning the old shower head in the following steps: 

  1. Screw the base of the handheld shower head base onto the shower arm, then turn it in a clockwise direction to tighten it. If it’s still loose, use the wrench to tighten it as needed.  
  1. Attach one end of the flexible shower hose onto this shower head base, then attach the other end onto the handheld shower head. Ensure to place in the washers on each end of the hose for a watertight result.  
  1. If it has an independent wall bracket, mount it on the wall.  

Test it by turning on the water outlet and checking for leaks. If you find any, unscrew the joint, add the plumber’s tape, and screw it back on.  

b. Cross-T Diverter Fitting 

The cross-T diverter fitting allows you to add the handheld shower head by having fixed and handheld shower head outlets. You may need relatively higher water pressure to operate both shower heads simultaneously.  

Attach it as follows: 

  1. Screw the cross-T diverter onto the shower arm by turning it clockwise until it’s tight. You can tighten it a little further by using the wrench.  
  1. On one end of the diverter, screw on the original shower head to keep its original position. Tighten it with the hand and the wrench to get the proper seal.  
  1. On the end of the diverter fitting, screw on one end of the hose to the handheld shower head. Attach the other end of the hose to the handheld shower head and tighten it.  
  1. If the handheld shower head has a wall mount, mount it on the wall as needed.  

Test the setup for leaks by turning on the water and closing one shower head while using the other.  

c. Tub Spout Diverter Valve 

As stated earlier, the spout diverter can be either slip-on or threaded. After its removal, purchase another one of the same type as the one you removed but with threads on the open end that allow for the attachment of the handheld shower head. Ensure you have the right shower valve height to reduce inconvenience and avoid accidents.

With the new spout, follow the steps below: 

  1. Wrap the plumber’s tape on the spout attachment, then screw the spout on it till tight. If the spout is the slip-on type, attach it using the Allen screwdriver.  
  1. On the other end of the spout tub, wrap the plumber’s tape on the threads, then screw one end of the shower head’s hose until tight.  
  1. Screw the other end of the flexible hose onto the handheld shower head and tighten it as needed.  
  1. Mount the shower head’s mounting bracket on the wall as per the instructions given by the manufacturer. Test it by docking the shower head in it.  

Test the setup by turning on the water at full pressure.

The installation video below shows a short version of the process and can be used to install Moen Magnetic shower heads and many others.


Handheld shower heads add a lot of versatility to your shower. You can point anywhere on the body, clean a naughty pet and even the bathroom. It also conserves water compared to a fixed showerhead. Besides that, it’s easy to add one to your bathroom.

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