Raise Your Shower Head in 5 Minutes




Introduction: Raise Your Shower Head in 5 Minutes

About: I'm an English teacher and former Instructables staff member.

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

  • "S" pipe
  • new shower head (optional, but why not upgrade?)
  • teflon tape
  • 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.



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46 Discussions

It's likely against your lease to be messing with the plumbing like this, but technically, yes, you can do this in any apartment. However, if you mess up you will end up both in violation of your lease and having to pay for damages.

If probably better to ask your landlord really nicely, and have them do it for you.

Or, at least, get permission from your landlord before you do it.

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! ??

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.

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.

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.

1 reply

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.

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).

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.)

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:

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.

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.

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


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

4 replies

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)