Advice for shower arm leak with new hardware

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by tlittleton, Jan 28, 2018.

  1. tlittleton

    tlittleton New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2018
    Location:
    San Antonio TX
    I'm in the process of a DIY remodel and have been dealing with a frustrating issue regarding the shower arm. I replaced all the plumbing and put in a new bath/shower valve. I've been using push to connect connectors and they seem to work great so far, with the exception of the drop ear elbow and the connected shower arm.

    I have 1/2" copper pipe coming from the valve to the push to connect elbow (Sharkbite brand). I CANNOT get the threaded shower arm connection water tight. I have tried two brand new elbows and three different shower arms. I have tried teflon tape and that thread sealer paste. I have tried to be careful not to over tighten the threads.

    I still have a leak. I'm using a Kohler shower arm and it has the standard NPT threads. I've also tried a couple of cheap shower arms and have had the same problem. Is it the Sharkbite connector? I've gotten it down to a very minor seep while the shower is running, but that is still unacceptable, especially once I put drywall back up.

    Any advice?? I'm frustrated to no end at this point...
     
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2004
    Occupation:
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    Location:
    New England
    It's possible, but not likely, that you have two defective fittings. They can end up with cracks or pinholes in them.

    The shower arms may not have the greatest quality threads on them.

    The most likely issue is that you're not getting the connection tight enough. It might work better for you if you used the pipe dope and the tape. Or, you might just need to go around one more time. If the threads are cut properly, you shouldn't bottom the arm out in the fitting, and that will probably do it. That next turn can take some force, but if your elbow is properly supported, it shouldn't be an issue. It should be a drop-ear el, anchored to blocking.
     

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  4. kaffetero

    kaffetero New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2018
    Location:
    Central New Jersey
    I've got the exact same issue.

    Seems like the threads on the drop ear Sharkbite are straight threads and the threads on the shower arm are tapered and that they're not going into the drop enough to really create a seal.

    Also, I've installed the drop ear such that it is essentially flush w/ the shower wall tile, so I don't have space in the wall for a nipple or adapter.

    Not too happy at the moment.
     
  5. hj

    hj Master Plumber

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    THere is no reason they would EVER cut straight threads into a "pipe elbow". You have some other problem, but we do not know what it is.
     
  6. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I suggest the next time that you put in your shower arm, use PTFE tape and Rectorseal #5 both. And tighten tight.

    You could undo what you have, re-tape and re-dope, and try again. Or maybe just give the current arm another full turn CW. If you can't, do the shower arm turning challenge when you have some stronger friends over. They will enjoy the challenge.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
  7. dj2

    dj2 In the Trades

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2013
    Location:
    California
    "Any advice?? I'm frustrated to no end at this point..."

    If you can't fight it...replace it.
    Replace the drop ear elbow, except this time get the type you sweat on the copper riser. Problem solved.
     
  8. R Sullivan

    R Sullivan New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2020
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    I realize your post is almost 3 years old now, but did you ever find a solution to your shower arm leak? We’re experiencing the same exact problem with same plumbing connections. Lowe’s guy couldn’t believe we’d tested 3 different shower arms and still had a leak problem, but it’s true. He suggested some great white sealer instead of the plumbers tape. Haven’t tried that fix yet. Thought I’d see if you had resolved your issue first. Thanks in advance.
     
  9. R Sullivan

    R Sullivan New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2020
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    Were you able to resolve the leak, and if so, how? We’re experiencing the same problem...ugh.
     
  10. R Sullivan

    R Sullivan New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2020
    Location:
    Las Vegas
    Disregard my inquiry. Resolved the issue today using a combination of plumbers tape and putty (Oatey Great White brand). No leak—finally!
     
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