Introduction: Raise Your Shower Head in 5 Minutes

So here's the thing: whenever I move into a new apartment, the shower heads spit out water at approximately my neck. Sometimes shoulders, sometimes chin, but I always end up having to contort myself just to get my hair wet. For a while, I thought the only way to correct this extreme marginalization of the tall was to install one of those hose-y contraptions with a water wand so I could rinse my head. But after about ten minutes browsing through my hardware store's shower head section, I found salvation in the form of an 11" S pipe.

It raises the shower head an additional six or seven inches, which is just enough to fit my noggin under the spray. I now do this for all the showers in all of the places where I am going to live for more than a few days. It takes less than five minutes and makes a noticeable difference when taking a shower. (Unless you are tiny, in which case you might not notice a difference beyond being unable to change the spray setting without a step ladder.) If you're a little bit tall and a little bit handy, get out your crescent wrench and teflon tape 'cause we're about to change some lives.

(I actually already did this in the shower I use every day. But we have a guest shower that I hadn't taken the trouble to fix previously. But we've got guests coming in a couple of weeks, so I thought it would be nice if they could shampoo their heads. Because Benji Franklin says that fish and guests smell after three days. Not my guests. Not after this project.)

Step 1: Gather Materials

Materials:
  • "S" pipe
  • new shower head (optional, but why not upgrade?)
  • teflon tape
Tools:
  • crescent wrench (or something to remove the old pipe nipple)
  • toothbrush (to clean the old fittings)

Step 2: Remove Old Fittings

Unscrew the entire shower head assembly from the wall. You can leave the old shower head on if you are going to replace it. This part may require the wrench, but I was able to do it with my bare hands. (Not due to being particularly strong, mostly because these fittings should be hand-tightened which means hand-removal.) Remember, lefty loosey.

Now that you've taken out the old nipple, there will be some leftover teflon tape and maybe some unidentified crusty bits on the female pipe fitting in the wall of the shower. Use your (old, gross, no longer in use) toothbrush to remove what you can.

Step 3: Install New Fittings

Wrap both threaded ends of your S pipe with teflon tape. Position the pipe so that it comes straight out of the wall and the top part of the S aims at the spot where you will be showering. After placing the little donut disk* along the wall, thread your S into the female pipe in the wall. Don't overtighten. Use your hands so you don't get crazy with the wrench. Your final product should look like an S sticking out of the wall of your shower. If it looks like a 2, you did it wrong.

Now stick on your shower head. Screw it into place over the teflon tape. Aim it where you will be standing during a shower.


*Full disclosure, team, I forgot to put the donut disk on the wall before inserting the pipe. I ended up having to thread it on from the shower head end of the S. Oops. And once it got to the wall, it wouldn't sit nicely. So I glued it in place with some Loctite indoor/outdoor I had on hand from another project. Just thought you should know.

Step 4: Test It Out

I recommend a dry run to test it out. "Dry" run since you will be testing with water, but you yourself will not be in the water. Turn on the shower. Make sure there are no drips or sprays or explosions. If everything seems okay, it probably is. This isn't rocket science. Take a shower if you want. Take two. No need to hang your head to get it wet, you can keep your chin up, high and proud, now that you raised your shower head.

Comments

author
LyndellH (author)2017-06-15

Hello and thank you ??. I was researching shower heights and came upon this article. I have a shower where I have placed a filter and shower head. For our house (Community Housing Ltd), we have approx height of copper pipe at 5'7" just or just under! I have to run around like Charlie Chaplin to get wet! My son will end up being taller than me, heading into the 6' something. I thought of telling CHL to get the pipe heightened!!! Looks like I will have to ditch the filter type due to it not giving us additional height. (We both have dry skin/ecsma,why the filter). The shower head you used looks lovely. I will go with the whole kit for our shower. No more Charlie Chaplin bent knee walk! ??

author
vansham (author)2017-04-20

Any ideas on how to add height to the shower stall? I have two 6'6" kids and when they shower water sometimes gets between the wall and shower then leaks below tub to basement. Caulk has been a poor solution.

author
JosephK79 (author)2016-03-21

I heard the horrors of having a shower the required bending down to get your head, and I have always been proud that I was never too tall for the shower head. That was until I moved into my new apartment. My whole world shattered when I seen how low the shower head was.

I'm glad to see there is a way to fix it.

author
table45 (author)2015-08-15

I've always wondered about thread sealant. Is it sticky? Would it prevent me from switching out my shower heads if I decide on one of those fancy rain-simulating heads sometime in the future? I do like teflon tape, it reminds me of the tape I got from http://best-shower-head.com - Beyond that, I hold no teflon allegiance. If thread sealant does a better job, I will switch teams without compunction.

author
JamesD81 (author)table452015-09-23

Thread sealing Teflon tape is not sticky. You can remove it fairly easily next time you take the fitting off - and you should always do this and wind on new tape each time.

A pro tip is to wind the tape on the same direction as the thread. So for a normal thread, when facing the bathroom wall fitting, you'd wind it around clockwise. That way when you screw the shower head onto the fitting, it slides over the end of the tape, rather than against it, which can unwind the tape.

author
table45 (author)2015-08-15

author
dr_peru (author)2015-01-13

yeah, most homes are still deseigned vor the average 1970s person that was like 6 inches smaller!

(this is probably an exaggeration, not based on any actual statistical material, just on my experience and frustration on bumping my head all the time and gettin backpain while dishwashing and playing foosballbecause of wrong heights of things).

author
mikeasaurus made it! (author)2014-02-12

This is the third shower head I've modified using your technique. I can't tell you how nice it is not to smack my face against the shower head anymore!

20140212_084646.jpg
author
matt1111 (author)2013-03-12

Interesting!!!

author
RangerJ (author)2012-04-04

Anything that makes life better for us 'normal' sized people is a winner with me. (I didn't have to do this though - I built my house and set the shower head plenty high enough to get all 6'6" of me under it.)

author
dimtick (author)2012-04-04

when attaching the shower head to the pipe use a pipe wrench, not an adjustable wrench as shown in the photo.
use tongue and groove pliers like these:
http://www.lowes.com/pd_97352-922-430_4294778737_4294937087_?productId=1115091&Ns=p_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr|0||p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl_Pliers%2BAdjustable%2BWrenches_4294778737_4294937087_%3Fpage%3D2%26Ns%3Dp_product_prd_lis_ord_nbr%7C0%7C%7Cp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=

I recommend attaching the shower head first before you screw the pipe to the wall. when you screw to the wall first, screwing on the shower head may work the wall joint loose causing a leak....especially if the shower head puts up a fight.

wrap masking tape around the chrome shower head pipe fitting to keep the wrench from marking it up. The shower head has a washer inside it. it's critical that you don't overtighten or you'll damage the washer and the head will leak.

in addition to sealing the pipe opening at the wall, I will run a ring of plumbers putty around the inside of the trim ring it to seal it to the wall. I leave a gap in the putty at the bottom so if any water does get behind it will run out the bottom and not get trapped risking it working it's way behind the tile. use a wet rag to wipe off any plumbers putty that squeezes out.

i've used teflon tape for years without any problems....knock on wood....but i think the other comments about using sealant instead are valid.

author
Mark Rehorst (author)2011-12-04

There is a slight danger with these S pipes. Notice that the pipe slopes downward toward the wall. That means that water leaking from the shower head and/or bounced off your body, striking the S pipe will, under the influence of gravity, try to find the lowest point by traveling along the S pipe to the wall. You need to make sure that hole in the wall is well sealed with silicone to prevent the water from getting behind the wall and rotting the board backing the tiles.

Using a hand-shower attachment on the original pipe coming out of the wall is safer because there is no downward slope toward the wall.

author
exabopper (author)2011-05-10

For these metal pipe nipples, I'd say to get yourself a tube of thread sealant instead of teflon tape, like this:

http://www.lowes.com/pd_23534-138-31226D_0__?productId=3136487&Ntt=thread+sealant&pl=1&currentURL=%2Fpl__0__s%3FNtt%3Dthread%2Bsealant

I have installed shower heads and stuff with this for years, a tube of it will last you centuries. Cheers!

author
Sarbit (author)exabopper2011-11-02

I did this with Teflon tape and it started leaking after a few months. The shower head extender is an adjustable one, so maybe the movement loosened it up. Anyway, we redid it with thread sealant and it seems to have fixed the problem.

author
wilgubeast (author)exabopper2011-05-10

I've always wondered about thread sealant. Is it sticky? Would it prevent me from switching out my shower heads if I decide on one of those fancy rain-simulating heads sometime in the future? I do like teflon tape, it reminds me of wrapping my hockey stick when I was a kid. Beyond that, I hold no teflon allegiance. If thread sealant does a better job, I will switch teams without compunction.

author
jsadler1 (author)wilgubeast2011-06-19

There are several thread sealants. Some are designed to allow easier removal of a pipe when used to handle very hot water. Some simply stop joints from seizing. While other thread sealants like 3M (red) are almost like a weld once they harden. Always read the directions. Teflon tape is great stuff providing you keep small flecks of it from breaking off and gumming up mechanical systems.
One amateur bad habit is in using silicone to seal threads. It is simply not the best thing in the world for systems use and can cause a lot of problems as it tends to migrate to spots where it should not be. Workers also tend to have silicone get into their eyes which yields a trip to the emergency room.

author
exabopper (author)wilgubeast2011-05-13

The sealant is not a glue, you can remove and change fittings anytime. It feels like toothpaste or thick paint going on. Over time, it dries out a bit, but I haven't had leak problems with it. If you change a fitting, just wipe off the old sealant before applying it to the new fixture. Disclaimer - not a pro plumber, I just like to change out my own shower heads and stuff.

author
SimplyT (author)2011-05-02

An Adjustable "High/Low" shower arm works great: http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-100536010/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053
With this a 6'7" beast can get their head pounded, as can a 5'0" lass.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=shower+arm&x=0&y=0 shows the Danze style that I have, and several other compelling choices.

Great details.

author
jdhood (author)2011-05-02
How about installing a hand-held shower? You can mount an additional bracket at any height you desire, and the hose makes shower-cleaning *much* easier.


Examples at amazon.com: (bit.ly link)


author
cindi59 (author)2011-05-01

It wouldn't be so bad IF you tall people would remember to put it back down where shorties can reach it! My house was remodeled 12 years ago. My hubby at the time and I were both 5' 3".....fast forward...new hubby 6'3" rofl..I loved to see him try to take a shower! Now we have a shower system. But he forgets and leaves the darn thing way up in the air and I have to actually take it off to adjust! I think the thin air gets to his memory. ...Hum or maybe revenge for the chuckles I got? I'll have to get back at him some way....

author
lockemonster (author)2011-05-01

being 6'9" i considere you a saint

author
larsrc (author)2011-05-01

I still don't get why the US has fixed shower heads in so many places. A telephone style shower head is so much more practical - unless your main form of exercise is bending yourself into pretzels trying to get water on the right area.

Just get pretty much any of these: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_sc_3_19?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=showerhead+handheld&x=0&y=0&sprefix=showerhead+handheld then take down the current shower head, stash it away until you move again, and install.

author
MiltReynolds (author)2011-04-30

Simply elegant!

Easy, simple fix for a frustrating problem. Never dreamed the hardware store would have such an animal, but it makes good sense. Thanks for sharing this.

I enjoyed the 'ible even more for the great writing style. Easy humor, plain language, clear description, excellent photos. Easy to see why you're a pro!

You got me hooked, wilgubeast! Keep 'em coming!

author
Lavonna (author)2011-04-29

My father gave me a shower extender years ago. But it has joints in it so it could be adjusted to diffierent heights for those that wanted it that way. It came in handy for my girls when they were little and could then get a concentrated spray on them. I have taken that extender with me every time I moved!

author
Lavonna (author)Lavonna2011-04-29

Oh, I forgot something! With this one, it just "extends" the showerhead, so you don't have to go all the way into the wall as this ible does. I tried to add an image, but it just keep trying to "load my library". Is that a library here on this site? If so, where and how do I start a library?

author
actionjksn (author)2011-04-28

The little doughnut disk is called an escutcheon.

author
wilgubeast (author)actionjksn2011-04-29

It's like the aglet of the shower. Awesome.

author
taviecoker (author)2011-04-28

I'm so excited! I've been renting this house for a year and the shower head comes to my collar bone and I'm only 5'7''!!! I'm going to Home Depot immediately after work and fixing it TONIGHT!!!!

i've stands all I can stands and I can't stands no more!!!

author
Treknology (author)taviecoker2011-04-29

Exactly! You don't have to be over-tall to suffer from this problem.

author
naknupp (author)2011-04-28

In the "better safe than sorry" attitude, do I need to turn the water off somewhere in the house before I unscrew the pipe? I'm ready to do it, but I don't want to flood my bathroom... Thanks!

author
gmhowell (author)naknupp2011-04-28

No. If you unscrew the shower head and water comes out, there is something seriously, seriously wrong with your plumbing.

And water would be coming out all the time anyway.

author
dfuller1 (author)gmhowell2011-04-28

True, although I have changed a lot of shower heads and there is usually a little trickle of water trapped in the pipe that comes out when you remove the old one. Don't be alarmed when this happens.

author
anode505 (author)2011-04-28

1/2 the hotels had the midget plumber's union doing them

author
realmassage (author)anode5052011-04-28

The hotel where I work has the opposite. The shower heads are so high, that the average GRA (Guest Room Attendant - apparently some object to being called MAIDS now (?) is so short that they seldom get cleaned.

author
Spokehedz (author)2011-04-28

I am purchasing one of these tonight. I have an articulated showerhead already, but this will make it EVEN BETTER.

author
Shippygirl (author)2011-04-28

Thank you! My shower head is so low that at 5'6" I have to stoop down to use it. This looks like something I can do myself to fix it.

author
CrystalDyes (author)2011-04-28

I had this problem too when we moved into our house in '82. When we remodeled the master bath, I told hubby that I wanted the shower head pipe in the wall to exit at 7 feet or 1 foot from the ceiling. I told him I also wanted the controls at chest height so I didn't have to bend over to turn them on. The third thing I asked for was a regular tub spout in the shower so I didn't get sprayed with cold water initially. Oh, and the spout had to be high enough to get a standard 5-gal bucket under. Got it all! That was many years ago. Great decision 'cause G-son is 6'4. My Dad was a plumber & an electrician so we always had odd configurations of things in our house. I never thought about what might be standard because nothing in our house was "standard". It was all about what was convenient and answered the need for a particular problem. Heaven help a contractor if I ever decide to build a house from scratch!!

author
srilyk (author)2011-04-28

This... fixes short showers... awesome!

I, too, feel the pain of having my shower head spray my neck, instead of my head.

Apparently almost all plumbers are exactly 5' tall, because most places that I've lived have had showers entirely too short. So I'm super excited to use this if(hah, more like when!) our next place has a short shower!

author
omakii (author)2011-04-28

Dear Sir -

I believe this Instructable has seriously improved the quality of life for tall persons everywhere there are showers.

Don't be surprised if the Nobel committee comes calling.

author
JesterPoet (author)2011-04-28

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

I'm fully capable of doing the plumbing, but I had no idea that the 11" shower arm even exists. I'll be making this adjustment this weekend.

author
ragdolldude (author)2011-04-27

I used that type of fixed arm before, but I prefer this type on Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com/Alsons-AA902CH12-12-Inch-Adjustable-Shower/dp/B000W3AQAE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1303910199&sr=8-2 . It has pivot points that afford more flexibility in the spray.

author
l8nite (author)2011-04-26

I haven't noticed that fitting in any of the local stores but I'll definately be on the lookout ! I'm just under 6'4 and find that turning the standard arm upwards and using the hose/wand shower head I get enough clearance that I dont have to bend. My son stands close to 6'8 when he recently remodeled his bathroom he took care of the problem with a ceiling mounted "rain head" along with the regular head for his 5'2 wife... of course she prefers the rain shower as does his daughter...

author
underwhelmed (author)2011-04-26

I've had to do this myself, but I've only ever found this type of fitting locally-
http://neatitems.com/shower_arms.htm

They work well, and shorter people can likewise adjust down if need be.

author
angelabchua (author)2011-04-26

Okay, My boyfriend is almost 6'5" and has had problems with shower heads for years. We have extended ours in a similar fashion, and had to have a special detachable shower head with a handle to get the extra 3" to add to that! I do feel bad when we stay at like a hotel or something, and he has to do some cirqu du soleil back bend to wash his hair.

author
bigme (author)2011-04-26

All 6'4" sends a golf clap in your direction. The previous two appartments required the above modification. When we built our current place the shower head went in at 7'.

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