Frequently Asked Questions
Q. "I tried to remove my old shower arm but it broke off inside the fitting in the wall. What do I do now?"
A. Fortunately, a tool has been made to help you in this situation. An Internal Nipple Wrench can be used that inserts inside the broken, thin walled, shower arm and when tightened allows the user to unthread the broken piece out of the fitting in the wall. Normal pipe nipple or screw extractors will not work because they are not designed to expand inside the nipple and tighten evenly like the Internal Nipple Wrench will.
Q. "Why are shower arms usually made thinner than normal brass or galvanized pipe nipples?"
A. The manufacturers of shower arms have to meet certain pressure requirements, but water pressure is only present when the shower is turned on. Water normally flows through the shower arm and out through the shower head, not putting any real constant pressure inside the shower arm. Shower head shut-off valves are designed to drip some water through them so the hot and cold water will not mix at the shower valve itself, again relieving any real pressure build-up in the shower arm. So manufacturers can meet minimal pressure requirements and save money by using less material.
Q. "How do I install a new shower arm?"
A. Determine which side of the shower arm will be threaded into the wall. Use PTFE thread sealing tape and wrap it around the threads clockwise as you are holding the shower arm in your left hand and the PTFE thread sealing tape in your right hand. Wrap the PTFE tape completely around the threads 3 or 4 times, and if your piping in the wall is galvanized then you can wrap it 5 or 6 times. (This is based on using PTFE tape thickness of 3.5 mill with density of 0.4 and the fact the shower arm is brass which is a softer metal than galvanized pipe which may not seal properly without the extra PTFE tape applied.) Make sure you wrap the PTFE tape clockwise or it will unthread off the shower arm as it is threaded into the fitting in the wall. Put the escutcheon (trim ring) on the shower arm and hand tighten the shower arm into the fitting. Be very careful to start the threads so they won't get cross-threaded. Hand tighten two or three revolutions. Using a wrench tighten the shower arm two or three more turns. The shower arm should not be tightened more than a total of six revolutions. A professional grade strap wrench or rubber strap wrench will be best to use so you don't scratch the shower arm. Sometimes you can tighten the shower arm without the use of a wrench if you can get the right amount of leverage. As the shower arm tightens up after the fourth revolution you should begin to line it up so the outlet is centered in the down position. If you feel it is too loose after the fourth revolution, and the shower arm is still turning fairly easy then continue to tighten the arm the fifth revolution and line up the arm so the outlet is centered in the down position.
Q. "Should I seal around my shower arm trim ring to prevent water from getting behind it and possibly entering into my wall?"
A. If the trim ring (escutcheon) fits snug onto your shower arm and stays in place close to the wall then you usually do not need to seal around it. Most shower heads fall below the shower arm where it exits the wall and thus maybe only an occasional water splash may come in contact with the escutcheon, and in those instances it will protect the wall opening from water. If you are using an extension type shower arm and the head is above the escutcheon then you may need to seal around the trim ring to protect the possibility of a spray of water deluging the escutcheon area. If you do wish to seal around the escutcheon then only seal the the top two-thirds of the escutcheon and leave the bottom one-third open. In this way if some water does get behind the wall escutcheon it has a way to get out.