How To Remove A Shower Arm That Is Stuck (4 Step Guide)

Last Updated On May 23, 2024

Updated on March 14, 2023



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How To Remove A Shower Arm That Is Stuck

Is the shower arm in your shower stuck? This is a common problem homeowners face when changing the shower head. Let’s talk about how to remove a shower arm that is stuck, simply and quickly. 

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:

  • What is a shower arm?
  • Why is my shower arm stuck? 
  • Supplies you’ll need to remove a stuck shower arm
  • How to remove a shower arm that is stuck?

What's In This Guide?

      What Is a Shower Arm?

      “Shower arm” refers to the metal tube that extends from the shower pipe in the wall to the showerhead, ensuring water gets the arc and flow needed to reach you. 

      In some cases, the shower arm may also include an escutcheon, a decorative piece that provides an aesthetically pleasing covering over the installation hole in the wall of your shower. 

      The shower arm connects to a vertical water supply pipe behind your wall. If you accidentally remove the shower arm incorrectly, you may burst the pipe behind your wall. So, be careful!

      You may need to remove the shower arm if you plan to replace an old showerhead with a new shower head that doesn’t fit the original shower head. Also, you may wish to install a shower head extension for better coverage while using the existing head.

      Why is My Shower Arm Stuck?

      There are a number of reasons why your shower arm may be stuck. 

      Most shower arms get stuck as a result of rust or mineral buildup thanks to hard water. Sometimes, the shower arm gets stuck during installation. 


      Corrosion, the process of metal turning into rust, naturally occurs to metal material over time, especially when it comes into contact with hot water temperatures and high water pressure on a regular basis. 

      Not only does rust contaminate the water coming from the fixture, but it deteriorates the material to the point where it can eventually create a leak. 

      Hard Water

      If your home receives hard water, water with mineral content higher than 120 miligrams per liter, you may experience sediment buildup more quickly. 

      You can reduce the hardness of your water by installing a water softener at your main water supply or at specific fixtures throughout your home.

      did you know how to remove shower arm

      FYI: If your water source has a hard mineral content, your shower head and arm may need regular descaling. Soak it in a CLR (Calcium, Lime, Rust Remover) descaler product approximately every 6 months. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions. If the CLR is not available, white vinegar can be used as an alternative, soak it for about 30 minutes or longer.

      Improper Installation

      If a shower arm gets stuck immediately after installation, it may not have been installed properly.

      Caution: Some shower arms are not steel, they are only chromated hard plastic. If that is the case, you should only hand tighten the shower arm. Most of the time plumbers do not use a wrench on delicate fixtures. When in doubt, only use your hands to tighten it.

      Some people use sturdy glue or pipe dope during installation, thinking that will keep it in place and prevent leaks. However, the glue may make the shower arm more permanent than intended. 

      It’s better to use Teflon tape, plumber’s tape, or thread seal tape when installing a shower arm, since it’s much easier to remove. 

      Tools/Supplies You’ll Need to Remove a Stuck Shower Arm


      You will need a sturdy, reliable stepladder to reach the shower arm. 

      Follow all safety precautions when using your ladder, not placing the stepladder on an unbalanced or wet surface. Use caution!

      Locking Pliers (Vise Grip)

      A vise grip is basically a handheld clamp that can keep a pipe in place when you don’t have a second set of hands. 

      Jaws wrap around the object in question, and an adjustable knob on the bottom allows you to tighten the jaws around the object securely. Here is a video on how to use…

      Adjustable Wrench

      All professional and DIY plumbers should have an adjustable wrench handy. 

      An adjustable wrench gives you the flexibility to fit a variety of different pipe sizes, making it appropriate for plumbing needs throughout your entire home…not just a stuck shower head.

      New Shower Arm

      After you unstick the old shower arm, you will need to install a new shower arm and maybe get rid of the old shower head. Here is a basic option on Amazon.

      You need to ensure that your new shower arm fits the shower head you plan to use, as they may vary based on shower head type and brand name. 

      You have a number of options when it comes to a new showerhead. Upgrade your shower experience by buying one of the most popular waterfall shower heads


      If you think glue was used to attach the shower arm to the wall, you should also get acetone, the main ingredient in nail polish. Use a rubber glove to protect your application hand, and be careful not to spill or drip any acetone on painted surfaces.

      This product works to eat at adhesive materials such as residue from old duct tape, so it may help loosen the glue. Need something stronger? You can also try using Liquid Wrench to penetrate the metal.

      How To Remove a Shower Arm That Is Stuck? 4 Steps

      Step One: Turn Off Water

      Find the shut of valve to your shower. If you don’t have a shut off valve to the shower, you wlil need to shut off water to your whole house at your main shower line. 

      Step Two: Clean Shower Arm 

      The shower arm may simply have a large amount of material caked onto it, especially if it’s a little bit older. 

      You can use vinegar and baking soda to clean the buildup. 

      While cleaning, remove the flow restrictor and clean that as well before replacing it. 

      If you notice that the shower arm appears glued to the shower wall, you will need to use something to counteract the effects of the adhesive, such as acetone. 

      Caution: Acetone is a strong paint remover, make sure your’re not dripping it on any painted surfaces, as it will leave a mark.

      Step Three: Lubricate the Shower Arm 

      Use WD-40 or another lubricant to make the shower arm move more easily. The increased movement may make it easier to adjust. 

      Sometimes cleaning the shower arm and using lubricant will provide you with everything you need to remove the shower arm if you do not have tools. 

      However, if that doesn’t work, you’ll need locking pliers and a pipe wrench. 

      You may also need something stronger if corrosion is in play, such as Liquid Wrench penetrating oil

      Step Four: Apply Vice Grip and Loosen With Wrench

      Apply the vice grip to the shower arm.
      With the vice grip in place, use your wrench to remove the shower arm by turning it counterclockwise.

      If you’re planning to reinstall your old shower arm and head (if it is still usable), ensure that the fixture doesn’t get scratched by protecting it with cloth so that the wrench does not directly touch the surface and leave marks.

      Better still, first try to loosen it with your bare hands.

      FAQs For Removing a Shower Arm That’s Stuck

      How to remove a shower arm without tools?

      If you don’t have any tools available to you, you can try to loosen a stuck shower arm by cleaning away all sediment buildup and soap scum developed on the shower arm with a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda. You can also use WD40. 

      How do you remove a glued shower arm?

      To remove a glued shower arm, soak the shower arm in acetone to loosen the adhesive. 

      How do you remove a shower arm without scratching it?

      To avoid scratching your shower arm while you remove it, be careful while using your tools and avoid using steel wool on it. 

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      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about "all things plumbing," helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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