How To Install Or Replace A Shower Head In A Bathtub

A new showerhead is one of the most cost-effective ways to update a bathroom. If you're interested in changing out your showerhead or installing a new one, you're probably wondering if you can do it yourself. We've done the research and can tell you the easiest ways to install a showerhead in your bathtub.

Showerheads are universal and will attach to an existing shower arm if your tub already has a shower. Otherwise, you will probably need to call in a professional to adjust the plumbing. If  you just need to replace an existing showerhead, follow these steps:

  1. Place a towel over the drain opening in the tub.
  2. Remove your old showerhead.
  3. Remove tape or residue from threads.
  4. Wrap Teflon tape around the shower arm threads.
  5. Screw on the new showerhead and hand tighten until it's snug.
  6. Turn on the shower and make sure it doesn't leak at the connection.

Installing a new showerhead is fairly easy, but continue reading to find out the details as well as to find out what to do if you want to add a shower to your freestanding tub. 

Plumber installing a shower head in a new bathroom, Plumber installing a shower head in a new bathroom, How to Install or Replace a Shower Head in a Bathtub

How To Install A New Showerhead

Installing a new showerhead in your tub is a rather simple task. Follow along with the steps below for complete guidance:

Plumber Installing New Showerhead

1. Cover The Drain Opening

You don't want any debris from the showerhead to fall into your drain, so place a towel over the drain opening. This will also prevent any small part or tools from disappearing into the drain. 

2. Remove The Old Showerhead

This should be a simple process. You can probably just unscrew it with your hand. However, if your showerhead is stuck, spray it with a penetrating catalyst to help loosen it. Then wrap a towel around the shower arm, which is the pipe extending out of the wall that the showerhead is screwed onto, and use a pair of pliers to hold it in place. Then use a wrench to loosen the showerhead. 

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3. Clean The Threads

The shower arm threads will likely have tape debris or residue on them. Use an old toothbrush or rag to wipe the threads clean so that the new showerhead will connect correctly. 

4. Wrap Teflon Tape Around The Threads

If your showerhead calls for it, wrap Teflon tape around the threads of the newly cleaned shower arm. Teflon tape lubricates the threads and allows for a better seal. It also makes it easier to unscrew the showerhead if you need to do so in the future. 

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5. Attach The New Showerhead

At this point, you should be able to simply screw on the new showerhead.  Don't use a wrench just yet, though. Tighten it as much as you can with your hand. 

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6. Turn On The Shower To Check For Leaks

Test out your new showerhead to make sure the connections are secure and that there is no water leaking from the seal. If there is, protect the shower arm with a piece of cloth and hold it steady with a pair of pliers. Then use a wrench to tighten up the showerhead. 

Sometimes a showerhead may have more installation stipulations. Be sure to follow along with the instructions for your specific showerhead if needed. 

How To Install A Shower In A Freestanding Tub

Old fashioned style bath tub faucet with hot and cold handles

If you have a clawfoot or other freestanding tub, you may not have a preexisting shower arm to attach a showerhead. In that case, you'll have to install a shower fixture on the tub.  Follow the steps below to complete this job.

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1.  Turn Off The Water

Make sure you turn off both hot and cold water to the bathtub. You should be able to find the shut-off valves near the tub. Turn on both faucets to drain any water that may still be in the pipes and to make sure the water is off. 

2.  Disconnect The Water Supply Lines And Faucet

Find the connections where the hot and cold water go into the tub. Disconnect these nuts using a crescent wrench so that you won't mar the finish. There will be two more nuts that connect the faucet to the tub. Loosen those nuts in the same manner and take out the old faucet.

3.  Install The New Faucet/Shower Assembly

The new assembly will be in pieces. Start with the base faucet and apply some plumber's putty to the back of the faucet around the pipes that extend through the tub. This will help make sure you achieve a water-tight seal. 

4.  Reattach The Nuts

Use your hand to tighten the lock nuts to the new shower assembly. As you do that, the putty will squeeze out. Then use your crescent wrench to tighten the nuts and reattach the nuts connecting the water supply lines to the faucet of the shower assembly. 

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5.  Assemble The Riser And Attach To The Base Faucet

Apply Teflon tape to the bottom of the shower riser pipe and screw it into the base faucet. Your faucet will come with a wall support that you need to cut to length to fit between your shower riser and your wall. Make sure your riser is even using a level.

Then put the wall support in place and mark where it intersects with the riser. Use a tubing cutter to cut the wall support to fit. Screw the wall support into the wall and then use the set screw that came with it to fit it into the riser. 

How Much Does It Cost To Add A Showerhead To A Bathtub?

A bath in a luxury hotel is situated next to a window with a view right over the Atlantic Ocean

The cost to add a shower head to a bathtub varies greatly. If you just want to replace a showerhead in your existing tub and you plan to install it yourself, you can do it for less than $100. If you are converting a bathtub into a full shower and hiring a professional, it can cost over $2,000. 

How Do You Fit A Shower And Bath Into A Small Bathroom?

The best way to fit a shower and bath into a small bathroom is to install a bathtub that includes a shower. A separate shower and bath will take up more room than a combination unit.

If you can't use a combination unit for some reason, maximize your space by installing a small tub and shower. Depending on the layout of your bathroom, it may be best to put the shower and bathtub right next to each other. 

Bathroom with bathtub and showerhead

Does Replacing A Bath With A Shower Devalue A House?

Most families want a bathtub in the bathroom. A bathroom with only a shower, especially if it's the only bathroom in the house, will definitely limit its appeal. If you're planning to sell your house, you should not replace a bathtub with a shower.

However, adding a shower to an existing tub or adding a shower in a bathroom with a tub will increase your house's value. If your house has several bathrooms, particularly if it has more than two, replacing a bathtub with a shower will have less of an impact on its resale value. 

Of course, if you don't plan on selling your house, then replacing a bath with a shower won't devalue your home, especially if you use high-quality materials and professional workmanship. 

In Closing

No matter what your budget is, there's a way to add a luxurious shower to your bathroom. If your budget is tight, you can simply replace your existing showerhead with a better model. On the other hand, if you aren't worried about how much it costs, you can add a full shower with all of the extras to your bathroom. 

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