What Causes a Shower Head to Drip? [Reasons With DIY Repair Guides]

The main culprit behind “What Causes a Shower Head to Drip” is usually a damaged or broken cartridge or gasket inside the shower valves. Still, it might also be due to a clogged shower head, faulty supply lines, and many other issues.

Let’s learn more about the various causes of a dripping shower head and what you can do about it.


8 Common Causes Of A Shower Head To Drip

Shower heads are expensive and can be a big hassle to have to replace. If you have a shower head that drips, it could be caused by several different factors, such as;

    1. Bad Shower Valves
    2. Improper Installation
    3. Faulty Supply Line
    4. Rust and Corrosion
    5. Grime and Lime Build-Up
    6. Plumbing Errors
    7. Incorrect Teflon Tape Application
    8. Faulty or Broken Shower Head

Let’s explore them in-depth.

Bad Shower Valves

As mentioned, the most common cause of a dripping shower head is bad shower valves. Over time, the valves’ shower faucet cartridge, washers, gaskets, and o-rings can become worn out, damaged, or broken. And even if not broken, they could come loose from frequent use or poor quality materials.

On a side note: There are great differences between the shower valve and shower cartridge, to know the differences in details, click here.

This can cause water to leak out of the valve and into your shower, resulting in a drip. The valve can also become clogged with mineral deposits, which can cause it to malfunction and drip.

Improper Installation

Another possible reason for a dripping shower head is if your faucet has been installed incorrectly. Since water pressure can make things move around in pipes, you must ensure no pipes are left open under the sink every time you turn off the water at the kitchen faucet. 

Your shower head drips when turned off as the water comes from under the sink and makes its way up to your shower head.

Faulty Supply Line

If you have a faulty supply line, it can cause your shower head to drip. Supply lines are the pipes that connect your water supply to your faucet. Over time, these pipes can become worn out or damaged, which can cause them to leak. 

You may also have a loose connection, for example, because of unthreaded pipe connections, which can cause water to leak out and result in a dripping shower head.

Rust and Corrosion

A leaking shower head can also result from rust or corrosion on the inside of your faucet. You may notice a substance inside your shower head that looks like coffee grounds, rust, or even black gunk. 

These developments, especially inside the shower head faceplate, are typically caused by water leaking into your fixture over time, causing corrosion. And when water leaks through corroded pipes, it can cause your shower head to drip.

Grime and Lime Build-Up

Grime and lime build-up are likely to contribute to a dripping shower head. Over time, mineral deposits can build up in your shower head, which can clog the holes and cause the water to drip out. 

You may also notice a white, chalky substance on your shower faucet handle, which is another sign of mineral build-up.

Plumbing Errors

Another possibility is a fault in your home’s plumbing and water leaking into your shower head. For example, if your pipes and shower heads are not threaded correctly, they may not be able to handle the water pressure, which can cause them to leak and result in a dripping shower head.

Incorrect Teflon Tape Application

Teflon tapes are commonly used to help create a watertight seal when replacing a shower head or shower faucet escutcheon. 

However, if the tape is applied incorrectly, for example, if it’s too thin, wrapped too tightly, or in the wrong direction, it can impact the water pressure and cause your shower head to leak and drip.

Faulty or Broken Shower Head

Your shower head could be leaking from any number of broken places on the body, including the base and the outlet. This is usually caused by aging or deterioration of the materials used in your shower head.

Why Does My Shower Head Drip after I Turn It Off?

If your shower head drips after you turn it off, it’s most likely due to a problem with the shower valve. Upon turning off the shower, the water pressure in the pipes decreases, which can keep the defective valve from a proper shut-off and cause the water to leak out of the valve and into your shower.

However, there are a few more reasons your shower head might drip after turning it off. Such as-

Worn or Loose Washers

One possibility is that the washer inside the shower head is damaged and needs replacement. When the washer is loose, it can no longer create a watertight seal, which can cause the water to leak out and result in a dripping shower head.

Erosion of Thread Seal Tape

If you’ve ever replaced your shower head, you may have used thread seal tape to help create a watertight seal. However, over time this tape can become eroded, which can cause the water to leak out and result in a dripping shower head.

Incorrect Water Pressure

If you have a water pressure regulator, it could be set too high, which can cause your shower head to drip. 

The pressure should be between 45 and 55 psi (pounds per square inch) for your normal showering experience. Water pressure will likely fluctuate if it is lower than 40 or above 60, resulting in the shower head leaking at the base even after turning it off.

NB. In case you have low water pressure in your shower head, then read our article on how to increase shower head water pressure, here.

Build-Ups in the Valve

Finally, the valve can also become clogged with mineral deposits, leading to a leaky shower head. This is because these build-ups can greatly affect the pressure and flow of water.

How Do I Stop My Shower Head from Dripping?


A dripping shower head can be such a nuisance. Not only is the sound incredibly annoying, but it can also waste a lot of water and potentially damage your home’s plumbing. Yet, if you don’t have the relevant expertise, it’s best to leave this repair to a professional.

Nevertheless, if you’re determined to attempt the repair yourself, read on to learn how to fix a dripping shower head.

Step 1: Shut Off the Water

Make sure all water mains are shut off in the house. Water may still be in the pipe despite your main being shut off. Keep a towel handy.

Step 2: Remove and Inspect

With your hands, unscrew the shower head from the pipe. For a tight head, use pliers or a crescent wrench. Inside the shower head, you’ll find the small rubber O-ring affixed to the threads. This component is often the source of shower head leaks and drips because of wear and tear over time. Replace it if it appears worn or damaged.

Be careful not to force. Don’t tighten the shower head too tightly when you remove or reinstall it to avoid damaging or cracking something.

Step 3: Clean the Shower head

It’s a good idea to clean your shower head while it’s off, especially if the flow has decreased. You’ll need to clean off the mineral deposits or sediment accumulated in the shower head or on the pipe stem left by hard water.

Put three cups of vinegar into a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat once the mixture begins to boil. Then put the shower head (avoid the rubber) into the solution and leave it there for 20-30 minutes. Remove and rinse the inner and outer jets with an old toothbrush until they are clean.

Step 4: Tape It Up

Following the washer or O-ring replacement, carefully wrap Teflon tape around the pipe stem’s threads. Be sure not to overuse tape. The threads of the pipe stem should be wrapped with a thin strip.

Step 5: Reinstall the Shower head

For the reinstallation, hand-tighten the shower head until you can no longer turn it. Then turn it again with pliers. The shower head or pipe may break if you turn too hard.

Step 6: Turn the Water on

Finally, turn on the water and let it run for a few seconds before turning it off. Check if the leak or drip still exists after waiting a few minutes.

How to Fix Electric Shower Head from Dripping

The same method shown above may come in handy when you attempt to fix a dripping electric shower head. However, you’ll need to be even more careful when dealing with an electrical appliance.

As with any electrical work, you must disconnect the power source before starting. In this case, you’ll need to find and flip the circuit breaker that controls your shower. 

Once you’ve found it, turn off the breaker and test the shower to ensure the power is off. After that, you can proceed with the steps mentioned above.

Is It Normal for Shower Head to Drip?

A little dripping is normal for any shower head, especially after extended use. However, it isn’t normal if your shower head is dripping excessively or the water pressure is low. 

Prolonged dripping can waste a lot of water and potentially cause damage to your home’s plumbing by causing corrosion.

Where Is the O-Ring in a Shower Head?

The O-ring is the part of a shower valve cartridge that seals to the shower arm. It can be found on either side of the shower arm as a barrier between your shower head and shower hose when not in use.

It’s also important because it determines how much pressure you’re getting from your shower head if it’s not working properly, your water pressure will be lower than it should be.

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