Showerhead attachment for bathtub faucet
January 21, 2021 3:33 PM   Subscribe

My shower is no longer working (water only drips out), but the bathtub faucet still works and has good water pressure. I’d like to attach some kind of shower head to the faucet.

Don’t want to get a plumber right now as I am high risk, but water is not coming out of the shower for some reason. I’ve looked on Amazon but am having trouble finding a shower attachment for the type of faucet I have - like this but without the diverter. Nothing can be screwed into it, it’s just an open squarish faucet. Can you help? Thank you!
posted by dianeF to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This one maybe?
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 3:49 PM on January 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Replacing the tub filler with diverter is super easy. I didn't realize until a plumber told me. In my case, I just unscrewed it and screwed in a new one, although I think some have an attachment screw.
posted by idb at 3:52 PM on January 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

As an outside possibility, calcium deposits can build up in shower heads and keep them from spraying correctly. If you can rig a way to soak your shower head in vinegar, that might get you back in business.
posted by Dashy at 4:02 PM on January 21, 2021 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all for the suggestions so far! Dashy, I don’t think it’s calcium deposits because it comes on for a second or two then dwindles to drops. But thanks!
posted by dianeF at 5:11 PM on January 21, 2021

When you pull the diverter, does water just keep coming out of the bathtub faucet, or does the water just stop?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:02 PM on January 21, 2021

Response by poster: There’s actually a third knob between the hot and cold water knobs instead of a diverter (old building). I usually just leave it turned to shower. Switching between shower and tub, water stops coming out of the tub faucet.
posted by dianeF at 7:13 PM on January 21, 2021

So it sends the water to the shower, but the shower is so blocked up that the water can’t come out?

Unscrew the shower head and wash it out. There should be a screen on the shower head that you can clean out.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:23 PM on January 21, 2021

Response by poster: I really don’t think it’s the shower head. It was working fine yesterday but management turned the water off all day today to work on the pipes. When it came back on, the shower had stopped working. Really, I’m looking for a showerhead attachment for the bathtub.
posted by dianeF at 7:50 PM on January 21, 2021

More to the (wrong, sorry) point: if you take the shower head off for cleaning, you'll soon know if it's not the shower head: turn on the shower and either you'll get a reasonably solid column of water out of the pipe/hose (piping good) or you won't (piping bad / dodgy valve).

(This assumes, for a fixed head, that the shower head does not screw into the wall, but all the ones I've seen have a pipe that screws into the wall and a shower head that screws onto the pipe.)
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 7:53 PM on January 21, 2021

Yeah it's likely that when they turned the water off/on they dislodged some sediment and that sediment is now clogging your showerhead screen. Take off the showerhead and see if you get water flow. It's also possible that the sediment is blocking your shower valve. Maybe working it back and forth could knock the sediment loose, but you might need a plumber to clean or replace it.
posted by H21 at 8:07 PM on January 21, 2021 [4 favorites]

Nthing that this is quite possibly a problem with your shower head or the pipes running to it getting full of sediment after the work that was done, and that checking this will be a lot less work than figuring out an attachment for your tub faucet. Also that there's little to lose in checking this first.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:19 PM on January 21, 2021

Response by poster: I see what you guys are saying, but as I tried to describe above, the water DOES come out through the shower head just fine for about two seconds, then it slowly loses oomph and dwindles to a drop. It is definitely a pain to find a showerhead attachment, which is why I’m asking for help..
posted by dianeF at 9:00 PM on January 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

There’s actually a third knob between the hot and cold water knobs instead of a diverter (old building). I usually just leave it turned to shower. Switching between shower and tub, water stops coming out of the tub faucet.

That third knob is the diverter; it's just in the wall instead of the faucet head.

Unscrew the shower head by turning it to the left until it detaches, and there's just a pipe. Then turn on the water, turn the diverter knob to the shower setting, and verify that the water comes out of the pipe where the shower head was.

If water comes out of the pipe, then the problem is with the shower head. Shower heads are cheap and easy to change out—just screw it on.
posted by vitout at 5:54 AM on January 22, 2021

It was working fine yesterday but management turned the water off all day today to work on the pipes.

Both the third-knob diverter and the "working on the pipes --> shower doesn't work" are things I've experienced. I lived in a house with older shower plumbing, and whenever they worked on anything, the showerhead screen filled up with chunks of pipe gunk and it slowed to a trickle. There's a little surge of water that comes through initially because the debris may have settled in the meantime, then the pressure pushes it against the screen and it stops.

After you take the showerhead off and clean out the screen, you can just put it back on. If there's no gasket or anything, you should wrap the pipe threads in teflon tape, and that will seal it well enough (and let you get it back off later if you need to).
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:59 AM on January 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Folks, I can’t take the showerhead off, you need tools to do it. I had to hire a plumber to do it when I got a filter for it. Let’s all agree there’s a ton of sediment in there ruining my life, I still can’t get it off. I just want to try a showerhead converter attachment. In fact, now I want one to make bathing my dog easier. Is anyone able to find one that might work with the type of faucet I linked to?
posted by dianeF at 7:04 AM on January 22, 2021

The behaviour you describe is consistent with a bunch of grit and gunk knocked loose by management's pipe work having settled in the bottom of the vertical section of pipe between the shower head and the diverter, right on top of the diverter valve. There will be enough of this that as soon as water gets a start at flowing through to the shower head, the current carries the gunk up to the shower head screen and holds it pressed into place there, stopping the flow.

If the bath outlet doesn't also have a screen, you might be able to wash the gunk out through the bath outlet. Turn on the taps, then operate the diverter so that the shower does its initial burst and then slows to a trickle. The gunk is now forming a plug upstream of the screen at the top of the shower pipe, held in place by water pressure. Gently turn the diverter part way so that the bath outlet just begins to flow, then turn off the supply taps. You should find that the vertical pipe to the shower now empties itself through the bath outlet, and because the supply pressure isn't there any more, the gunk should flow down with it and come out. You might need to repeat the cycle several times to wash all of it out.

Alternatively, the shower head might not actually have a screen, and what's happening is that there are enough gritty granules that every hole in the shower head itself gets blocked by its own little grain of grit, the grains being guided straight to holes that remain active by the currents headed toward them inside the shower head. If that's what's going on then the gunk is most likely resting in the shower head itself rather than in the bottom of the supply pipe, and the fix is to unscrew the head and wash it out from the back. Given that this is hard to do, I hope for your sake it's the first thing.
posted by flabdablet at 7:06 AM on January 22, 2021

Best answer: It is disturbingly difficult to find one that works with a bathtub spout rather than a sink faucet. I found the same one as tinyBumblee above although this Amazon link appears in stock for me.

I'm in the UK so it's hard to search for products that are sold in other countries. If it's helpful, I found otherwise very similar products labelled as portable showers, shampoo sprayers and pet shower sprayers.
posted by plonkee at 7:46 AM on January 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've never had any luck at all persuading any of those portable showers with the push-on rubber fitting to seal properly against a faucet with corners like the one pictured. They always, always leak badly in the middle of the flat sides, and they detach themselves as soon as you turn the taps up enough to actually have a shower.

If I were in a position of needing to rely on one, I'd be using a worm drive hose clamp to hold it onto the end of the faucet, with some kind of packing pieces between the clamp and the outside of the rubber cup so that the clamp can exert pressure on the flat sides. Frankly I'd rather spend my money on a half decent wrench and some teflon tape.
posted by flabdablet at 8:15 AM on January 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry if it feels like we're all piling on here, but cleaning out the shower head that's there is going to work a lot better than a faucet shower. Here's a crescent wrench, and here's teflon tape .... also cheaper than a faucet shower that you'll end up throwing away. This is definitely something you can do.
posted by Dashy at 10:02 AM on January 22, 2021

I would also clean this, because that water pressure has to go somewhere - you are going to break your pipe or blow out your diverter.

Shower assemblies (the part sticking out of the wall) are actually really easy to remove, as they are basically meant to be disposable, and you could buy one with a detachable spray hose for as little as $10.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:30 AM on January 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay, you all were right. I got the showerhead off and water is coming through the spout just fine. But I cannot clean the showerhead, it’s screwed together too tight and I can’t open it. I’m now taking showers under the spout and it’s better than the flow through the showerhead. It’s so much better that I can’t make myself spend money on a new showerhead. So I’m showering like an animal now.
posted by dianeF at 1:53 PM on February 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

It will also be hitting your hot water service way way way harder than it would be hit with a shower head in place, so depending what you pay for energy where you live, it might be worth your while to replace it sooner rather than later.

Cleaning it out might be as simple as finding a bit of wire small enough to slip into the holes and doing that while running water over the face of it, to encourage gritty granules that have been jammed into the back of the holes by water pressure to fall off and flush out. Perhaps a small paper clip or the inside of a wire twist tie?
posted by flabdablet at 7:01 AM on February 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

Just put the old one in a drawer and leave it there forever (it's the landlord's problem now), and when you're ready, get you a new one with a hose that you can take down for when you want to wash the dog. You shouldn't have to spend more than like $30 and still get a pretty good one. The good news is that a new one will have a screen right at the end of the pipe, so if you ever have to take it off it'll be easy to clean out.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:08 AM on February 7, 2021 [2 favorites]

You might try soaking the old one in vinegar. I doubt a new one is very expensive. Cheap ones appear to be as little as $8.
posted by idb at 4:44 AM on February 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's possible that you flushed out whatever was blocking the old showerhead already, and didn't notice it flushing away. You could try putting it back on -- that will tell you whether it's the showerhead or not, for sure, now that you know the water flow is fine. If it is the showerhead itself, then you know you won't be wasting money on a new one (but buy a Delta or a Glacier Bay from Home Depot, don't waste $8 on some no-name Amazon thing because that's really asking for trouble).
posted by Dashy at 12:06 PM on February 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I’m excited about the continued interest, thank you. I caved after a few days under the spout and bought a $20 one from Amazon. It has greatly improved my life. I didn’t realize how long I had been dealing with pathetic water output until so much water came out of the new showerhead that I almost had a heart attack. I fought with you guys but wish I had asked about this earlier, thanks.
posted by dianeF at 4:20 PM on February 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

With a half-decent shower head, there is indeed a kind of heaven behind the shower screen.

Glad you got a result.
posted by flabdablet at 11:31 PM on February 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

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