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After putting it off forever, you’ve finally decided it’s time to renovate your bathroom. First stop: the shower. You’ve banished the old (and possibly rusty) showerhead to the garbage and the shiny new one is ready to install.
Installation is easy enough. You twist it into your water connection and… it’s pointing up instead of down. If you’d turn on the water, you’d give your ceiling a shower.
What gives? Well, your plumbing isn’t topsy turvy and your new shower head probably isn’t defective. It’s likely an issue of the connection being too loose or too tight.
As you stare down that wonky shower arm, you may be feeling frustrated and unsure of how to solve the issue. Fortunately, you don’t need expert help in this situation. It’s a simple DIY fix.
In this article, we’re going to review the quick and easy process of how to fix a shower arm pointing up. Read on to find out just how easy it is.
To fix a shower arm pointing up, do the following:
- Determine how tight the connection is.
- Remove the shower arm from the wall.
- Add thread seal tape or plumber’s grease as needed.
- Re-install shower arm.
- Check your work!
What You’ll Need:
- Thread seal tape
- Plumber’s grease
- Pipe wrench or pliers
- [Optional] A screwdriver to be inserted into the end of the shower arm for leverage – to avoid damaging the shower arm with pliers.
- Rag or cloth
If you don’t happen to have PTFE tape or plumber’s grease laying around, you can find them at your local home improvement store. Both products have numerous names and are manufactured by countless brands.
Thread seal tape is also known as PTFE tape, Teflon tape, or plumber’s tape. Plumber’s grease can be found by looking for a faucet and valve grease, silicone grease, or pipe lubricant.
Why a Shower Arm Might Screw-in Pointing Up
To install a shower arm, you have to rotate it until it’s securely in. However, “securely in” could be upside down, like in your case.
To put it simply, the shower arm just didn’t rotate enough times. One additional rotation would have the showerhead pointing in the right direction.
As it turns out, not all pipes fit together like perfect puzzle pieces. The good news here is that you can fix it yourself.
How to Loosen a Stuck Shower Arm and Point it Down
Luckily, this process is easy and only requires a few simple materials. This takes less than 10 minutes.
Before removing the upside-down shower arm, give it a gentle twist with the wrench. You need to determine how much give you’ll need.
If it has a little bit of give and you feel it could rotate enough with a little help, then we can help it along.
On the other hand, if it’s an all or nothing deal – one way is too loose and leaky and the other is too tight and pointing up – then we’ll have to go another way.
In order to fix the issue, you’ll need to remove the shower arm. The best way to do this depends on how tight you installed it in the first place.
If you hand tightened the arm, you can likely just twist it and remove it without any tools.
If it’s locked tight, then you might need some metal assistance. A shower arm usually has male threads on both ends. The short side attaches to the dog-ear elbow on the shower wall and the long end points towards the tub. If a shower arm must be torqued with a wrench, pros will use a rag to cushion the shower arm and turn it with channel lock pliers, being careful not to scratch the shower arm with the pliers.
Typically, you’ll need to turn the shower arm counterclockwise in order to remove it. Using your tool of choice, loosen it until it’s out or until you can loosen the remainder by hand. Do not use excessive force!
In Step 1, if you found your shower arm could use just a little bit of help, try some lubricant. You’ll need to grease up the pipe threads with some plumber’s grease.
For the more complex issue, grab some PTFE tape. Wrap two to three layers of plumber’s tape on the thread of the pipe. It’s best to wrap the tape clockwise so that when you twist the arm back into the wall, you won’t unthread the pipe.
If you happen to have the shower equipment’s original packaging, check out the material it’s made of. Softer metals, such as brass, silver, copper, or lead need more tape layers. The softer the metal, the more risk you have of breaking it – so don’t use too much force!
If you don’t know what metal you’re dealing with, that’s okay too. Most shower arms on the market today are made with chrome, or sometimes nickel. These metals are hard and not as delicate as brass and the like.
Try to insert the pipe back into the wall. You’ll be turning the pipe clockwise this time. Also, be careful and make sure the pipe is threading properly into the hole. If not, you could be dealing with cross-threading, which can damage of the threads of your pipe.
Once you’ve completely twisted in the shower arm, you’ll find out if your lubricant or grease solved the issue. If it did, your shower arm should be secured and facing the right direction! Hooray!
If it’s not, time to head back to step two. You’ll need to remove the arm again and then apply more layers of Teflon tape or plumber’s grease. After, try installing it again. Repeat until the shower arm is pointing down.
Check your work! With all your twisting and taping, you’ll want to check that everything works and nothing leaks. Try putting the showerhead on the arm and then turning on the water.
Hopefully, the shower works as expected and you don’t find any leaks! If you see water escaping, some more thread-sealing tape may be in order. That is unless your head came with a rubber gasket to seal.
Clearly, an upside-down shower arm is more than just an annoyance.
Short of sticking yourself on the ceiling, Spiderman-style, it would be impossible to take a shower with such a problem.
Hopefully, this how-to made the issue easy to fix and your shower is good to go!
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