View Full Version : Non Standard Shower Head Replacement

06-08-2008, 05:20 AM
I need to replace a broken shower head. However it is part of what is apparently a non-standard system. The pipe which comes out from the wall does not have threads at the end. Instead it has a "ball" at the end which is not removable from the pipe and the collar which holds the shower head on the pipe remains on the pipe above the ball. Apparently this must have been a pipe/shower head system rolled all into one.

I have attached some pictures to show what I am talking about.

I need to replace the shower head. And I would like to do so without also replacing the pipe. I figure there are two ways to do this. First is to find a new shower head out there that will simply attach directly to my existing (approximately 1 1/8') collar.

The second approach would be to find a complete similar replacement system for this system...in other words, a new pipe/collar/shower head identical to what I already have and I would just use the shower head portion of the system.

Any ideas where I could find these? Or any other thoughts?


06-08-2008, 07:13 AM
Am. Std. and Price Pfister are 2 of several companies that used this design at one time. There are acouple of different threads that were used and adapters can be located but they usually end up loose and leaking.

I would recommend unscrewing the shower arm out of the drop eared elbow in the wall and replacing the shower arm and showerhead with the version used today. Note the shower arm may shear off inside the wall when you attempt to do this. If that happens its not the end of the world just post back and we'll tell you what to do.

06-08-2008, 07:36 AM
Just unscrew and replace the shower arm. Any adapter will give you a floppy head and multiple leaks. That system is not used anymore so you would probably not find a head that would fit, and if you did it would be one just like the old one.

06-08-2008, 11:54 AM
Thanks....too bad they don't at least make the shower head since it would be so easy to screw one back into the collar. I guess I will have to try and remove the shower arm...but given the age of it I suspect it will break off in the wall. And unfortunately there is a covering over the wall so if I have to go into the wall to do plumbing repairs I won't just be able to plaster over the opening....

06-08-2008, 01:47 PM
If it doesn't unscrew easily or breaks off, there are special internal wrenches that can extract the broken part. This should not require any access to behind the wall.

06-08-2008, 02:42 PM
but given the age of it I suspect it will break off in the wall.

I would only worry about that after you have tried to remove it and you can't.
That has happened like almost never in real life.
We just unthread them, and throw in a new one that is threaded on both ends.

06-08-2008, 05:20 PM
The wall tile with the gold veins dates your house to about the '60s. So that arm has been there a while, but I agree with Terry that the odds to get it our OK are good. You are replacing it, so don't worry about the chrome. Get a 10 of 12 inch pipe wrench on it, use your other hand as a hold back so you don't put any sideways pressure on it. It will come out.

Yes there are tools to remove the broken piece. Not a fun job when it happens, but this is one of the jobs where the risk is low. If it breaks, come back and we will help you get it out!

The adapters for AmStd and PP are getting harder to find, as the population of ball end arms diminishes. Whichever brand your shower is, that is what brand adapter you would need if you wanted to go that way.
Just goodle "ball end adapter"

06-08-2008, 05:25 PM
Not to worry... Any broken off shower arm I have been to I was able to get the remaining pieces out through the hole that the shower arm was going through.

Like I said post back if it happens I've got the answer! We'll cross that bridge when we have to, if we have to!

06-09-2008, 06:56 AM
If it breaks it was about to anyway. Unfortunately, most of the ones that have crystallized and break are the antique brass finish ones like yours. But if it does happen the remnant is extractable by a plumber with the right tools. In fact the last one I did a couple of weeks ago, the metal was so crystallized that just trying to unscrew it scraped the majority of the metal away, and screwing the new arm in displaced the remaining residue. That one had spontaneously cracked in the wall while using the shower.

06-15-2008, 06:25 AM
Thanks for all the comments. I finally had a chance to do the work...and it went off without a hitch. The old arm came out fine and the new one went in just as easily. So everything worked out great.

Thanks again:):)

07-13-2008, 03:23 PM
My shower arm did crack off in the wall, shower arm being 30yrs old. I am stumped to remove it, trying the nipple extractor but not sure of correct way to use it...help

07-13-2008, 07:17 PM
I usually get them out through the existing hole in the wall or, make it slightly larger but still small enough that the escutchion will cover it then by catching a piece of the thread and break it inward then grab it with pliers or, small vise grips continue round and round carefully breaking it inward without breaking it off. Kinda like opening a sardine can... It ends up looking like a helicoil and it comes out. Hopefully this works for you, there are other more expensive methods if this doesn't work.


On the siouxchief website click specialties, then tools... Scroll down to "Internal Nipple Wrench" That will get you there.

Another way that I get them out is by using a #7 easy out with 1/2" cut off the end.


If you can get it using the first method you don't have to buy any tools.

06-20-2009, 02:34 PM
I have the exact same system in my bathroom, but I don't seem to be able to unscrew the arm from the wall... does it just screw to the left to come out? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

06-20-2009, 04:42 PM
The part in the wall should be stanard 1/2" pipe threads.

Counterclockwise to remove.

06-20-2009, 06:30 PM
Righty tighty, lefty loosey.

12-28-2009, 01:02 PM
I have read this whole thread, but when i try to remove the pipe, it will not turn. And there are marks, looks like some one tried before me.

12-28-2009, 03:58 PM
If the tile and grout are tight to the arm, they may be preventing it from turning. With the proper force, ALL of them unscrew.