The ability to shower in private and comfort is one of the biggest perks of the RV life versus traditional tent camping. RVers don’t have to line up at communal campsite showers or track down a truck stop to get clean.
However, as when you are boondocking you rely on your fresh water tanks to meet all your water needs, wasting water is not something anyone wants to do. Therefore, a leaking RV shower head can be more than just an annoyance, it could leave you high and dry (literally). In this article we take a look at how you go about fixing a leaky shower head.
Why Do RV Showerheads Leak?
This sounds crazy, and the fact is that RV shower heads like this do almost drive lots of RV campers that way. Yet the issue exists in even some of the most popular RV shower heads on the market.
Most modern RV shower heads have a built in shut-off valve. This makes a lot of sense.
As any experienced RV camper will tell you the best way to shower to conserve water is to wet your body, stop the water, lather up, start the water again to rise off. This would be awkward if you had to keep reaching to turn the faucet on and off, so the side mounted stop valve makes it a lot easier.
The manufacturers of these types of RV shower head do offering reasoning for wasting all this water – not to mention putting a constant small drain on your RV batteries.
According to them the shower head should continue to drip a little water to prevent the unsuspecting occupant of the shower stall from being hit with a blast of freezing – or boiling hot – water when they turn the shower on.
This means that a leaking RV shower head may be in perfect condition, it’s simply designed to do that. As the unit ages though this leak may become a real leak that needs attention. And if you dislike wasting any water at all – which lots of eco-friendly boondockers do – or putting any unnecessary strain on your battery then you may want to stem the flow of water altogether. It’s doing that we will discuss next.
The RV shower head safety drip explained
The most obvious way to stop wasting water thanks to a leaking RV shower head is to replace it with a model that does not feature the drip mechanism we just described.
That may be easier said than done however, as even the top selling models often feature them.
Some RV owners have installed a residential shower head instead, but you lose the ease of the shut off valve if you do that, and, in addition, most residential shower heads were designed to be used with the higher water pressure found in the home, and won’t function well in the lower pressure conditions in your RV.
The shut-off valve and the drip feature are often touted as safety measures – no one wants to end up scalded after a shower, and it’s a real concern if you travel with kids – although more cynical veteran RVers often say that isn’t the case, as ‘cold blast’ often occurs, anyway and that unwelcome occurrence is a problem in itself.
Fixing a Functional Leaky RV Shower Head
So, you have an RV shower head with a shut-off valve that is dripping more than you’d like – and occasionally blasting you with icy water that is more of a shock that you’d like first thing in the morning.
How do you fix the problem without having to replace a shower head that you otherwise like and still functions well?
One answer is to install a shut off valve, along with a check valve, onto the faucet that feeds the shower itself.
These are easily found online and cost just a few dollars each. In some cases you may also need to order a simple gasket to fit everything together, but they too are easy to find and inexpensive.
This video explains how to make use of these little parts to create an RV shower head that does not leak:
In the video, you’ll notice that the presenter also adds an extra washer to the faucet before installing the shut-off valve.
This may be required to keep everything snug, but this varies from faucet to faucet, so even if you don’t end up needing to use it’s a good idea to have one handy anyway, just in case you do.
Diagnosing a Broken RV Showerhead
If you try the fix in the video above, and you still have a leak, then there’s a good chance that you will need to bite the bullet and replace your showerhead altogether.
But before you do, check the washer on the shower head itself, that may be broken and the cause of the leak. If so that’s an easy fix that will only cost you a few dollars, cheaper and easier than replacing the shower head as a whole for sure!
Is Something Else Wrong With Your RV Shower?
A leaky showerhead is not the only thing that can go wrong in your RV shower.
Here’s a look at some of the more common problems:
RV shower leaking underneath: This if often caused by a crack in the shower pan itself.
RV shower door leak: RV showers that have glass doors may leak if the doors are improperly installed or have a very small crack. The same is true if you may use of a shower curtain instead. They may not fit right or you may need to place them differently when you shower.
RV shower drain leak: This is often caused by a cracked drain nut.
RV shower hose leak: These leaks can be due to tiny holes, which can be fixed with duct tape, or may be due to the failure of your RV shower vacuum breaker, which is a more complex fix.
If you consider yourself handy you can make many of the fixes we have described yourself. If the issue is more complicated – a cracked drain pan for example – heading back to your RV dealer for a professional inspection is probably a better idea. The plumbing in an RV is more complicated than many people imagine, and some things are just best left to the pros.
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The steps to Replace an RV Shower Faucet. The first thing you must do is turn off the motorhome’s main water supply. Dump the water from the RV shower system by opening all the taps – both the hot and cold water. Then, remove your old shower faucet and disconnect the shower water lines. Check the two water pipes running from the shower and through the wall. These fixtures often have a fastener that secures them in their place. Loosen the hardware using a wrench and disconnect the hot and cold water lines. Finally, install the new shower faucet. Get your new shower faucet and check the location of the hot and cold water connections. Grab the loose water pipes and connect them to their respective taps using a wrench. You might want to apply Teflon tape over the threads to create a watertight seal.