A dripping shower head is annoying, and it can be expensive when it increases your energy bills and damages your tub. Here are a few things that can cause your showerhead to drip.
- Your showerhead has multiple components, and when any of them get worn down or damaged, a leak can result.
- Improper installation of your shower head and its components can result in leaks.
- A buildup of minerals and other materials can interfere with the function of your shower head and cause leaks.
Shower Head Leaks
Starting or ending your day with a relaxing shower is part of the routine for many. However, it can become another source of stress if your shower head is leaking. Waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of water dripping in the tub is another unpleasant way to discover a leak. You may also find a leak if the water supply in your shower seems weak.
While leaks are annoying, they can cause significant damage if you ignore them for too long.
- Leaks can cost you money due to higher utility bills and damage to your shower floor or walls.
- If the leak involves the hot water valve, your water heater has to work overtime, resulting in higher energy costs and more wear and tear on the equipment.
- A constantly wet environment can allow mold and mildew to develop. These impurities in the air can cause serious health problems for those with respiratory conditions such as asthma and allergies.
When the showerhead is dripping, most people assume that the problem is with the showerhead itself. However, many things can cause water to leak from that part of your shower, and it’s not always easy to find the source. So here are a few things to consider when you wonder why is my shower leaking.
Faucet Valve Stem or Valve Cartridge Damage
If you break it down into its simplest parts, your faucet is a valve that allows water to flow. This valve has two components, the faucet stem, and the seat. The stem is the part that moves and attaches to the handle. The seat is a fixed part. When you need to turn the water off, the stem presses against the seat to close off the water flow.
When the seat and stem don’t function as they should, your showerhead drips. Damaged shower faucet valves and stems or valve cartridges are the most common cause of leaky showers. As common as it is, fixing the problem can be complicated, and it’s not something you should try to correct yourself. Call in a professional to avoid expensive damages.
Diverter Valve Damage
A faucet body carries the water from your plumbing to the tub. Once it arrives, a diverter valve is a component that sends the water supply to either the showerhead or the faucet in the tub. Over time, these valves collect deposits of minerals and other materials that interfere with their operation. As a result, water may leak from the showerhead while the primary stream of water comes out of the tub faucet and vice versa. Your repair person can take the components apart and clean or replace the diverter valve.
Buildup of Hard Water
The term hard water refers to the level of calcium and magnesium dissolved in your water supply. These minerals can make your hands feel slick when you wash with hard water, and they can leave your dishes with a coating. Over time, hard water builds up in the holes of your shower head, preventing water from flowing freely. Eventually, the water starts coming out in other places as a leak. A professional repair person knows what to use to remove the buildup, eliminating the backup of the water. The plumbing company may be able to give you some tips on dealing with the minerals and other materials in your water supply as well.
Wearing of a Seal or Gasket
The connections on your shower head are sealed by washers and O-rings that keep water out. Over time, the material hardens and breaks down. As a result, water starts to leak around those seals. A professional can take your shower head apart, replace the damaged seals, and reassemble the unit.
Washer In a Compression Faucet
The oldest type of faucet is called a compression faucet. In a compression shower, you have separate handles for your hot and cold water. When the faucet is off, a small washer inside seals it off and keeps water from flowing. When you turn it on, the stem releases the pressure on the washer to break the seal and let the water flow. If you find that your shower leaks after you turn it off, you may have a worn-down washer.
Your repair person can replace the washer with a new faucet washer kit and then put everything back together again. However, sometimes, the seat behind the washer is also damaged, and even a new washer can’t tightly seal to block the water. When that happens, the repair person may need to replace the entire assembly.
Cartridge In the Valve Body
Another type of faucet uses a cartridge instead of a stem and seat. Instead of a washer that creates a seal, a cartridge faucet uses several O-rings to create a seal. This design is less likely to leak and is usually more expensive. These showers have one handle that controls hot and cold water instead of one handle for each. Behind the handle in these units is a valve body with a plastic cartridge. When that cartridge is damaged or broken, water can leak through it, even when the water is off. As a result, you may notice water trickling from your shower head. The repair is similar to replacing the washer in a compression faucet, and replacing the cartridge usually fixes the problem. However, if it doesn’t, you may need a whole new valve body.
If your shower head is newly installed and starts to leak, or if you recently made repairs to it and it’s still leaking, you may have faulty plumbing. Some of the common errors you may see are loose connections, cracks in the grout, or breaks in the shower wall tiles. You may also get leaks from an improperly installed fixture or drain. A lack of caulking can also lead to leaks. It should be plentiful around your water spouts, faceplates, and valve stems.
Where Can I Get Help With a Leaking Shower Head?
Though it may seem like a simple fix, repairing a leaking shower head is best left to the professionals. You can damage your plumbing and cause more severe issues if you don’t have the right tools and skills. Call Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing for help anytime. Our friendly and knowledgeable team of professionals has the training and equipment to help you with all of your plumbing needs. We can fix ball, cartridge, compression, and disk faucet types.
Featured Image: Colin Hui/Shutterstock