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Is Your Shower Head Dripping? Diagnose the Problem & Fix It

Drip, drip, drip…

This can be the most disheartening sound for a homeowner as it means something needs to get fixed or replaced.

One of the problems that many fall into is that they think it simply means buying a new shower head.

However, this is rarely ever the case and may involve changing out the shower valve instead.

Today, we’ll share with you how to diagnose and fix the cause of your dripping shower head quickly and easily.

Related: Best Cheap Shower Heads

Understanding the Parts

So most shower heads contain these two parts:

  • The shower head
  • The shower valve

The shower head is the part where water comes out, and you use it for bathing yourself. The shower valve, though, is a mechanism that rests behind the wall, or often within the shower walls, and it’s composed of an inlet or input where water comes in and a cartridge that’s particular to your model that contains a number of tiny valves or “gates” if you will.

The shower valve is a multi-functional product and will control the flow of water, the water temperature, and balance pressure among the other outlets of water flow to ensure water quality and avoid leaking of any kind.

So, which is the faulty part, the shower head or the valve?

Determining which part of the system is causing the problem is fairly straightforward. Here’s what you need to do:

Start by turning the water to the off position and then remove your shower head from the shower arm. If water is slowly coming out of the shower arm, it means the issue is your shower valve, not the shower head, and the shower valve needs to be replaced (this is more likely the problem).

On the other hand, if the water wasn’t coming from the shower arm, the issue is that your shower head is likely trapping an excessive amount of water and is slowly dripping the residual water long after you are done showering (this is less likely to be the problem). In this instance, you’ll need to replace your shower head.

How to Replace the Shower Valve

Luckily, the shower valve is a fairly easy job and can be done with a little DIY know-how.

Required Tools & Supplies:

  • Pliers (maybe)
  • Allen Wrench (maybe)
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Flashlight
  • New Shower Valve


  1. Begin by shutting off the water supply to the shower – you may have a valve separately in your bathroom. Otherwise, you’ll need to turn off the entire home’s water supply.
  2. Remove the cover from the wall. This will vary depending on your specific shower construction. Usually, the plate is either held in by a small screw underneath or is accessible by removing a small face plate on the shower knob.
  3. Using a flashlight, inspect the shower valve behind the wall. You should be able to see the valve and connections.
  4. Use your wrench or screwdriver to loosen and disconnect the water lines connected to the valves. Then, carefully remove the old valve.
  5. Install the new shower valve by connecting it to the same water lines that were connected to the old valve. Remember the direction of the water flow since this is important for properly utilizing the valve.
  6. Turn the water supply back on. Test the shower valve to ensure it works properly with the new shower head.

Here’s a helpful video demonstrating how to change a shower valve:

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I try to replace a shower valve in my apartment?

We never advise renters to fix the shower valve in an apartment as it may violate the terms of your lease in most cases. Instead, the best course of action would be to notify your landlord and arrange for them to fix the problem.

Are shower valves universal?

No, unfortunately, shower valves are not universal. When replacing your shower valve, note the model number and take a trip to your local home improvement store to see if they have it in stock. If not, you can typically find it available on the manufacturer’s website.

Is it okay to call a plumber to fix a shower valve?

If you aren’t confident in your DIY abilities, calling a plumber can certainly be a smart option. Replacing the shower valve is a relatively simple job and should only take a couple of hours depending on the size and complexity of the job. However, expect to pay roughly $400 – $500 for labor and parts.


Water waste is a huge problem. For example, a dripping shower head can waste up to 330 gallons of water per month. That’s enough water to fill a bathtub four times! Not only is it a waste of water, but it’s also a waste of money.

So if your shower head is dripping, don’t ignore it! Fix the problem right away.

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Frank Harmenstein

From humble beginnings as a plumber and handyman, Frank Harmenstein has emerged as a leading authority on shower heads, a title he has earned through years of dedication and hard work. With over two decades of experience in the plumbing industry, Frank has developed an unrivalled expertise in the installation, maintenance, and repair of shower systems. His passion for shower heads has led him to write extensively on the subject, sharing his knowledge and insights with readers around the world.

Born and raised in a small town, Frank's interest in plumbing was sparked at an early age by his father, who was a respected plumber in their community. Inspired by his father's dedication to his craft, Frank pursued an apprenticeship in plumbing and soon discovered his niche in the world of shower heads. He quickly gained a reputation as a skilled handyman who could fix any shower-related issue and provide expert advice on selecting the perfect shower head for any bathroom.

After years of honing his skills and knowledge, Frank decided to share his passion for shower heads with a wider audience by becoming an author.