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Thread: Installing rain shower head with 20" shower arm

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member AlSr1's Avatar
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    Default Installing rain shower head with 20" shower arm

    We have a new home under construction and we are considering putting a 20" long horizontal shower arm for a 10" rain shower head. Our general contractor feels that such a long shower arm is not feasible. I am exploring whether we could make this work.

    I assume that there will be a drop ear elbow, a nipple, shower arm, and the shower head (connected in that order). Please assume standard part dimensions for drop ear elbow and nipple.
    a) Is there a convenient way to attach the drop ear elbow more rigidly to the 2x6 cross brace? Would it be helpful to further clamp the drop ears with small metal bars to the cross brace?
    b) Would the threaded joints between the drop ear elbow and the nipple be strong enough? Is there a way to provide additional support to the nipple - by a bracket perhaps?
    c) Will the threaded joint between the nipple and the shower arm be strong enough? Are there brackets used to provide additional support to shower arms?

    Thank you in advance for your attention and I would really appreciate your comments.

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    When you say "shower arm" I am thinking an arm extending from the WALL. That is not a good way to mount a rain head....20" is way too long for that. Piping inside the ceiling to a drop ear elbow secured to a brace is the way to go,

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Your problem will NOT be with the drop ear elbow. If you have a problem it will be with the 20" arm snapping its thread where it is screwed INTO the drop ear elbow.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    You really want the thing coming from the ceiling, hanging down, not cantelevered off of a long arm unless you can find one with a support near the end to keep it from flopping around...that's a long lever, and often the rain heads aren't all that light.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5
    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    20" arm is not that long. It really depends on the quality of the fittings.

    Many parts these days are Chrome Plated Plastic. Not so good. You seen them in many suppliers parts. Better parts are Chrome Plated Brass which many of the higher end suppliers use.

    When fitting a large shower arm it is important to remember the weight of the shower head and you might need to angle the "Wing Back" (part that the shower arm threads into) a little up so when the shower arm and shower head are installed the arm sits level.

    You should also check that the arm comes out at 90 degrees to the tiled wall.



    Here is a shot of my plumber fine tuning this for our client. If the shower arm is adjusted a little out of level to compensate for the weight of the shower arm it is important to let the tile setter know so he does not change this when the grouting is placed.

    JW
    Last edited by johnfrwhipple; 11-10-2012 at 06:07 AM.


    jfrwhipple@gmail.com - www-no-curb.com - 604 506 6792

    Always get construction advice double checked by your local city hall. Flood Test Every Shower - Every Time.

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    shower arms are not made with the highest grade, or heaviest, brass pipe, so they WILL crack at the attachment thread under stress. IF the weight of the shower head flexs the arm to the extent that you have to compensate for it, then you DO have a lightweight arm, even if it is brass.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    Thanks HJ

    I think the real key step here is having the pieces onsite so the plumber can dry fit and check both that the arm sits level and square to the wall.

    JW


    jfrwhipple@gmail.com - www-no-curb.com - 604 506 6792

    Always get construction advice double checked by your local city hall. Flood Test Every Shower - Every Time.

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    I would NOT install a big rain head with the shower arm 20" long unless it was coming out of the ceiling and thus vertical (but that would require quite tall ceilings to be of practical use). The risk is just too great of cracking the arm in the wall. Your results may differ...I'm somewhat risk adverse. If you did, you'd want to make sure the fitting was well anchored to a solid piece of blocking and the arm itself was the highest thickness/grade you can find.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    I replaced a short shower arm yesterday, (not the first one ever, however), which snapped off at the drop ear elbow, and if it can happen to a short one with a medium sized head, I would never trust a long arm with a big head;.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  10. #10
    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    I replaced a short shower arm yesterday, (not the first one ever, however), which snapped off at the drop ear elbow, and if it can happen to a short one with a medium sized head, I would never trust a long arm with a big head;.
    Yet another reason I love the Dornbracht fixtures. The design of the Dornbracht system allows for worst case scenerios like this to leak out the face of the trim not the back side of the shower wall.

    JW


    jfrwhipple@gmail.com - www-no-curb.com - 604 506 6792

    Always get construction advice double checked by your local city hall. Flood Test Every Shower - Every Time.

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