Maintaining Shower Heads for Optimal Performance

There's nothing worse than turning on your shower in the morning, waiting with anticipation, and seeing the water dribble out. If you ever experience this annoying situation, the problem could be your shower head. Here's what you should be looking for...

  • Leaks where the shower head connects to the arm. Resolving a leak issue likely will require a new washer. To replace the washer, loosen the shower head collar with tape-wrapped rib-joint pliers. Then unscrew the shower head from its adjusting ring.
  • Water pressure that jumps up and down or flows out weakly points to mineral buildup. Restoring normal water pressure is a matter of cleaning outlet holes. Getting rid of excess minerals also can be accomplished by removing the entire face plate, soaking it in vinegar, and scrubbing the piece until it's clean.
  • A shower head that turns rigidly probably has a worn washer. Look the washer over for excessive wear. To be on the safe side, you also might want to lubricate the swivel ball with petroleum jelly.

Quieting Those Noisy Pipes

You've just settled down to rest after a day of hard work. Suddenly, your sleep is interrupted by a loud squeaking. Groggily, you get up and follow the noise to its source - water pipes. Pipe noises run the gamut from a steady hammering to very irritating squeaking. The problem could be loose pipes, flooded air chambers, or excessively high water pressure.

Here are three ways to deal with the most common types of pipe noises...

Banging - If turning on the water causes your pipes to bang, solving the problem could be as easy as adding more straps to anchor the pipes or using a rubber blanket to cushion the pipes. If you're adding more straps, make sure you leave plenty of space for expansion. This is especially true if you're dealing with plastic piping. Above all, never utilize galvanized straps with copper pipes.

Squeaking - The only kind of pipes that squeak are those that carry hot water. The sound is caused by an expanding pipe moving in its strap. A good way to deal with this issue is by cushioning the pipe with a rubber blanket.

Water Hammer - This noise results when you abruptly turn off water that's flowing through a faucet. Your first step should be checking to see if the pipes are loose. If this is the case, anchor them with straps, as in the above example. Another possible cause is water pressure that exceeds 80 psi. Installing a pressure-reducing valve will solve this problem and save you hundreds of headaches.

Other Bathroom repair, maintenance and other general advice