How to Remove a Stuck Shower Arm

Lead Image
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-30
What You'll Need
Vise grips
Adjustable pipe wrench
Calcium and limescale remover
Metal lubricant, WD-40 or other

You may need to remove your shower arm to fix a leak or make a replacement. If it is old, it may have rust or mineral scale buildup at the junction with the pipe, making it nearly impossible to remove. By following the tips in this article, you can remove a stuck shower arm without the help of a professional plumber.

Step 1 - Turn off the Water Flow Valve to the Shower

Turn off the water flow valve located in the access panel behind the shower wall, or turn off the water to the whole bathroom.

Step 2 - Grip and Turn the Shower Arm

Use a vise grip to hold the shower arm in place while you turn the shower head nut counterclockwise with an adjustable wrench. If the shower arm does not come loose easily, stop turning it at once to avoid snapping it.

Step 3 - Examine the Top of the Shower Arm

rain shower head

Climb the stepladder and have a good look at the shower arm at the junction where it is attached to the shower riser pipe. Brown flecks and spots on the chrome of the shower arm show rust, which means the shower arm is corroded. White specks and a flaky, crumbly layer of hard material are mineral scales. This occurs as hard water with high mineral salt content passes through the shower arm.

Step 4 - Remove the Rust or Mineral Scale

person working on a shower head

Several methods can be used to remove the rust and mineral scale. Pour some vinegar into a small bowl, put on rubber gloves, and dip a rag into the vinegar. Wind the cloth around the nut at the top of the shower arm and leave it on for about 10 minutes. Unwind the cloth and wipe off the shower arm. If the area appears free of rust and scale try twisting the shower arm off again with the adjustable wrench.

If the vinegar was ineffective, dry the shower arm off with a dry cloth. Next, apply liquid calcium and limescale remover. Pour it directly out of the bottle onto the nut atop the shower arm. Soak another cloth in the scale remover and wrap it around the shower arm for 20 minutes. If the rust and scale appear to be gone, unscrew the shower arm again from the pipe.

If the liquid scale remover did not work, wipe it all off from the shower arm. Bring a bucket with warm water and liquid dish soap to wash off any residue of the scale remover from the shower arm, or that dripped down the wall. Finally, spray around the nut and the shower arm with WD-40 or other metal lubricant, and leave it to penetrate for at least two hours. Try to remove the shower arm afterward with the pipe wrench. If the arm is still stuck after every shower turn effort, call a plumber to remove it to avoid damaging the shower riser pipe.