How to install a shower arm correctly

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by Titan7, Jun 8, 2008.

  1. Titan7

    Titan7 New Member

    Messages:
    40
    Just finished with a shower remodel, I was going to install the shower arm, but since it's behind the tile now I thought I would ask first. My plumber did the last one but for $150.00 I thought I might be able to pull this off. He put some pipe dope on the threads and then wrapped 3 times with white pipe tape and hand twisted it on. Is that really it? I guess my fear is leaking behind the wall but I can't see back there? Any suggestions?

    thanks!
  2. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    This isn't rocket science!

    Wrap on some teflon tape smear on a little teflon paste and screw it in as it tightens stop when it lines up right.

    Just make sure that you wrap the tape on in the right direction so that it doesn't unwind as you thread it in.

    You can make the hole in the wall slightly larger so you can look in to check for leakage. The escutchion will cover it!
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Thats about it. Start it very cautiously to avoid cross threading. Now, the tricky part....turning and knowing when you can make it all the way around one more turn... and when you have to stop! Might take two tries. If you go too far, it is not advisable to back up. Better to start over.

    When done, you can put a pipe cap on the end and turn on the water. There should be enough clearance hole to see in with a flashlight and check for leaks. If there is not, your tile guy was just too cute....unnecessarliy.
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
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    arm

    Hand tight is SELDOM tight enough. At least one more revolution, and two would be better.
  5. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Location:
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    I think two-hand tight is tight enough, and probably better than overtightening and thus either not being able to make the next full turn (bad), or breaking off the drop-ell in the wall (really bad). If he uses Teflon tape and some super dope (there's another thread somewhere that discusses this in great detail) one good oomph should be enough. Keep in mind that this joint is never under full house water pressure unless your showerhead has a shutoff valve on it, so it's (very) slightly less prone to leaking.

    One way to avoid the problem is to just use a straight nipple and a flexible shower spray gizmo.

    waterpik flexible.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2008
  6. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    That depends on who is hand tightening it! Just recently I had a customer who installed one that "Hand Tightened" it and called me after it leaked. It turns out that his hand tight cut new threads on the shower arm until it bottomed out in the drop eared elbow!:eek:

    I'll pass on the handshake!
  7. CharlieM

    CharlieM New Member

    Messages:
    45
    Location:
    Iowa
    Yikes, that would be some hands to see !

    I changed one of these out a few months ago and used one of those little rubber strap wrench things that Sears and others sell. One of those things you get as gift and wonder what you'll ever use it for.

    Anyway, unlike a lot of gadgetry kinds of things, this little gizmo worked great - no scratches or denting the shower arm, and easy to control.

    Charlie
  8. Titan7

    Titan7 New Member

    Messages:
    40
    Wow, maybe I will just pony up the $$ and have a pro do this. I know it's not rockit science, but there is no way for me to see if there is a leak from the hole. The scratch coat under the tile is so tight it allows only for the arm to slide in. The other way I could check would be to take the trim off and slide a piece of cardboard on top of the valve as any water would drip down and hit it.

    As for installing these, I think experience on How tight is tight is in order here. If I screw up, it costs me, if the plumber messes up at least I have some recourse. I am thinking a service call is in order, cheap insurance.
  9. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    "A man has got to know his limitations" ~ Dirty Harry

    Its easy but I admire your decision...:cool:
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,309
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    pipe

    As I replied when one customer asked me, "How come you can use a big wrench and a lot of force to remove it, when I couldn't?" I told him, "Because if it breaks I know who has to fix it, so I am extra careful. You didn't have to worry about it. You would have just called me, but might have turned a simple job into a minor remodel project."
    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 10, 2008
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