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I just moved into a new apartment where the shower arm is roughly pointing at my sternum. I’ve looked up replacement shower arms, and have found a few prefab S-bend options, but they won’t raise the end enough for me.

I’ve googled around, but can’t seem to find anyone who’s done this, so either my keywords are wrong, or there’s something I’m missing.

Is there any reason why it would be a bad idea to cobble together my own shower arm extension from IPS 1/2 inch chrome pipe fittings?

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  • Do you own or rent the apartment you just moved into? If you rent, then what you're permitted to do will be governed by the combination of your rental agreement, and local laws/codes/contracts. The laws/codes, potentially, include more restrictions for a rental than for owner occupied. If you own the apartment, and you don't own the complete building, then there are probably some restrictions in place as to what you are permitted to do yourself. It would be a relatively unusual rental situation where you'd be permitted to make this type of modification.
    – Makyen
    Dec 3, 2021 at 15:08
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    @Makyen: it sounds to me like he's just wanting to install a custom shower head, which is well within his rights as a tenant. @ Daniel B, handheld shower heads for the win?
    – Martha
    Dec 3, 2021 at 15:47
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    @Martha As currently written, there's no way for us to know what the OP's rights are as a tenant. Saying that doing this is within their rights is, potentially, disastrously wrong, but may be correct. What those rights are depends on all the factors I mentioned, and more. That's a lot of information we just don't have, so can't say what the OP is permitted to do. OTOH, it is possible to answer a question like "ignoring any legalities, what are the possible solutions here and/or what are the common issues I might encounter that would make the physical process of doing this a bad idea?"
    – Makyen
    Dec 3, 2021 at 16:03

3 Answers 3

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There are no rules. If it holds water it's fine. Just pay extra attention to the threaded connection in the wall so you don't cause damage. The usual strategy is a few wraps of PTFE tape in the correct direction.

My solution in a similar situation was to use a short, straight shower nipple and a head with a flex hose (WaterPik). I then looped the hose so the head was as high as possible, essentially level with the nipple.

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    "There are no rules." This isn't true everywhere. Down here in Australia, for instance, it would be illegal for a homeowner to do this work themselves, rather than hiring a licensed plumber to do it for them.
    – nick012000
    Dec 3, 2021 at 11:05
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    @nick012000, I suspect that you've extrapolated your local laws to projects they don't actually prohibit. See bestplumbers.com.au/plumbing-guides/…. It would be absurd to disallow a homeowner from changing a shower head, and most products come with new arms in the box.
    – isherwood
    Dec 3, 2021 at 13:37
  • @isherwood Even if we're allowed to unscrew a shower head and screw a new one in, this project goes well beyond those markers because it involves changing the pipes the shower head is connected to.
    – nick012000
    Dec 3, 2021 at 14:26
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    No it doesn't. Just the nipple (arm), which is a threaded fitting. At any rate, a great man once said that those who would sacrifice plumbing for security deserve neither. :P
    – isherwood
    Dec 3, 2021 at 14:29
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This will be fine. It's just a pipe delivering water to the shower head, and if it leaks, so what? It will drip into the tub. This is about the safest plumbing related job you can do. I will say that you should carefully remove the shower head and leave the exisiting shower arm.

In fact I did something similar in the past with copper pipe as a project, but the pipe also doubled as the shower rod and had shower heads on both sides of the tub (back when copper prices were not insane). It was a lot of fun, and was 100% removable when I left that place.

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  • If you raise it enough, it may be advisable to mount it the upright portion to the wall. At least that's what I saw on "This Old House" once. I think it's to keep it from just "leaning" and unthreading itself.
    – Turbo
    Dec 2, 2021 at 21:59
  • @Turbo, yes, thats a good point. The main head of mine was sort of an S curve up from the original arm that was attached to the wall with a copper pipe strap.
    – JPhi1618
    Dec 2, 2021 at 22:02
  • I was thinking of replacing it, shower arm and all. Swap the downward-curving shower arm with a straight nipple and add the upward-curving bits from there. It sounds like that would be a less good idea?
    – Daniel B
    Dec 2, 2021 at 22:24
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    @DanielB, if you remove the shower arm, that connection is inside the wall. If you cause a leak there, you'd possibly be in big trouble. Just removing a shower head and essentially replacing it with a new long shower head isn't a big deal and I think a lot of people in apartments do that anyway to install hand showers for kids, etc.
    – JPhi1618
    Dec 2, 2021 at 22:25
  • @JPhi1618 I agree that replacing a shower head is not a big deal, if the person knows how to prevent transmitting torque to the in-wall connection. However, it's certainly something that could cause problems if the person doing the work has no idea what they're doing (i.e. they could end up unknowingly loosening or damaging the in-wall connection).
    – Makyen
    Dec 3, 2021 at 15:13
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Google "shower arm adjustable extension". There are widely available and have adjustable joints on both ends so you can raise or lower the shower head with them.

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    I appreciate the tip, but I was aware of these. I know there’s a variety of ways to solve this problem, and was just curious if this specific solution had any unseen tripping hazards.
    – Daniel B
    Dec 3, 2021 at 5:48
  • @DanielB "tripping hazards"? Are you thinking this will trip you while you're in the tub, or are you thinking of "things that will trip you up while you install it"?
    – FreeMan
    Dec 3, 2021 at 13:16
  • Metaphorical, yes.
    – Daniel B
    Dec 3, 2021 at 15:04

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