How to install a handheld shower

Hi again folks, today we are going to talk about how to install a handheld shower unit. I can't believe how many people I see who think that they can just pick out an add on handheld shower package and go home and install it, without first installing a complete shower control (rough in) and shower head unit  And I'm talking about those folks who are building a brand new shower or renovating an old shower. Many people don't realize that a hand-held shower unit will not work without the installation of a regular shower valve and the proper plumbing first. So be warned.

This is extremely important: The first thing you have to understand about a handheld shower kit is that it is nearly always an "add on", by that I mean, it is a component that you add to your existing shower in order for it to work. In most cases if you do not have an exiting shower and valve, the handheld will not work. You cannot replace an existing shower with a handheld shower kit unless a complete shower valve comes with the kit. It is important to note that some kits include a shower valve while others do not. You have to know the difference which I will attempt to explain in this short article. Keep reading.

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This is an example of a typical handheld shower kit, that you would find at your local home improvement store. This unit is meant to replace your existing shower head. 

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This is another example of a typical handheld shower kit that can be purchased online or at your local home improvement outlet.  Some of these kits come with separate diverters.


This is yet another handheld shower kit. Notice that the kit does not include a shower control valve, which is required to operate the handheld. 

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This handheld shower unit comes with a slide bar and wall outlet for the hose. You must install an in wall diverter valve with this unit, if you want to have a separate shower head. 

Here is what a typical hand held shower kit with a slide bar looks like, Fig 1

Hand-held shower
Handheld shower bar



As you can see this is a simple add-on  kit. It still requires the use of the original shower  in the shower area. The original shower valve (not shown)  still controls the water pressure and temperature for both the shower head the handheld shower which is being added.






Hand held shower
Fig 2


Figure 2, shows a typical shower unit on which a hand-held shower device has been added. It also requires a diverter valve at the shower head, to switch between the handheld and the shower head. Most installations will only allow the use of one shower head at the time.





Shower diverter valve
Fig 3, Diverter valve




This is one of many styles of shower diverter valve available.  It allows you to switch between a showerhead or a handheld shower but installed at the shower head. These come in a variety of designs an shape, but all perform the same function, change the flow of water from the shower head to the hand-held shower unit.





There are basically two types of hand-held shower installation, one uses a slider bar and the second uses only a shower bracket. Both types of installation work well, it's basically a matter of choice.  Some people prefer the bar type which is adjustable while others do not have any preference.  It's really up to you.


Hand held shower kit
Basic Hand Held Shower Kit




This is a basic hand-held shower kit without a sliding shower bar.  It includes a shower hose and a wall bracket for easy installation.







shower and slider bar
Hand held shower with a slider bar



This is an example of a typical hand-held shower unit with a slider bar for easy height adjustment.  It also uses a suction cup installation that does not require drilling or screws, it can be  installed in minutes. Some hand-held shower bar requires  screws for  attaching it to the wall. Choose the type you prefer when purchasing a hand-held unit.




Now Let Try Installing a Hand Held Shower

Hand Held Shower Kit
Hand Held Kit






Let start with a typical hand-held shower kit that we will install. The kit shown, does not contain an adjustable slider bar.






Removing a shower head
Removing the shower head

Before you can install your new hand-held shower unit you will need to remove your old shower head. If you are planning to reuse the old shower head you will want to be careful not to damage it.  You can either wrap your pliers with masking tape or wrap a cloth around the shower head as shown. Now, turn the shower head connector counterclockwise to loosen it.  Once loose you should be able to remove it by hand, just keep turning till it comes off.



Shower Arm
Applying tape to shower arm


Next, apply plumber's tape (Teflon) in a clockwise direction, about six to seven turns before screwing on the diverter valve. This will prevent it from leaking.




shower diverter


Once the shower head has been removed you should install the new diverter as shown. Don't worry if your diverter looks  different, it should still work fine.






shower head and diverter Once the diverter had been installed, you will want to install the shower head.  Simply add more plumber's tape to the threaded male end of the diverter and screw on the shower head by  turning clockwise till it feels good and tight. Once you have tightened it as far as you can by hand, use a wrench or pliers to give it about a quarter of a turn, then test for leaks.  If the shower is leaking, tighten it a bit more using a wrench. Be careful not to over tighten, you could damage it.




Chrome hand held shower bracket
Hand held shower wall bracket



This is a typical hand-held shower mounting bracket. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and color. The one shown here is for mounting a hand-held shower that does not have an adjustable height slider bar.   Choose the one that suites you best.

Hand held show with bracket   Typical bracket type installation



Screw mounted shower bar


This is a typical hand-held shower, adjustable mounting rod.  This  allows you to raise and lower the shower head to best suite your personal preferences.  They also come in a variety of styles and configuration, so pick the one that suites you best.  The one shown here is a screw mounting type bar, but many are stuck on types. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the proper installation method.





Hand-held shower with slide bar
Installed hand-held shower with slide bar



This is sort of what your completed installation of a hand-held shower with slide bar should look like.  If yours doesn't quite look like this don't worry, it's probably just fine.

Now go ahead and enjoy your new shower. We are done for now.




For more ideas and DIY informational video's be sure to check out our friends at Plan it DIY



Related article:      Vertical Spa System



6 thoughts on “Handheld Shower”

  1. My partner and I stumbled over here different page and thought I
    should check things out. I like what I see so i am just
    following you. Look forward to looking at your web page again.

    1. Hi Maria, thanks for the comment. I not sure if you are talking about the shower combination on my blog or the one you saw on Archiexpo. I can only comment on the one on my site from a generic point of view. The first hand held shower is the most versatile since you can easily slide the hand held bracket up and down to accommodate shorter adults and children. The hand held in the second photo requires a wall bracket of some sort to hang the hand held on and is not as flexible from a height perspective. I hope this is the information you were looking for, if not you can email me at < [email protected] > and I will be happy to give you more details.

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