Why does my shower head drip when the tub faucet is on?

Don’t we all seek peace in the shower? The reason we spend so much on the best showerheads is that we want to relax in the solitary bliss of a good shower. It doesn’t take more than a drip to ruin it all.

Why does my shower head drip when the tub faucet is on?

An excessive amount of water can cause your showerhead to drip. When there is more water than the diverter is capable of handling, the excess will flow towards the shower head and drip even if it’s turned off. Sometimes, the valve is unable to handle even normal water flow due to a faulty washer.  

There is more than one possible reason for this problem, but no matter what the cause, it is an annoyance that needs fixing. The last thing you should be doing to fix the problem is using more force to turn the shower off. It only causes more damage.

Take a deep breath, and try to figure out what is causing the showerhead to drip when you turn on the faucet. Watch this video:

Is It Really a Problem?

A strange thing about plumbing, some problems are so common that they are almost considered normal.

Many people consider it normal for the showerhead to drip when the tub faucet is on. They have experienced it for so long and with so many different showerheads that they are no longer annoyed by the unwanted plop plop plop.

The question is, should you bother solving the issue if it doesn’t bother you?

The answer is ‘Yes, and for many good reasons.’

First of all, it is a waste of water. Secondly, the issue may not be limited to the visible dripping from the showerhead. There may be an internal leak behind the wall that can eventually cause dry rot, mold, and corrosion.  

Not to mention, if the leak happens to be on the hot water side, it will put an extra burden on the water heating system. The system will have to run longer due to hot water coming out of showerhead and faucet at the same time, which can cost you on your utility bills.

Now, let’s take a look at the most common reason water comes out of shower head with the tub faucet turned on.

A Faulty Diverter

A diverter is a valve between your showerhead and the tub faucet. It is an essential part of the mechanism that lets you switch from showerhead to tap and vice versa. Pull the lever, and the valve will divert water from the faucet to shower. Push the lever, and it will redirect the water to the faucet again. It is a simple mechanism, but also prone to damage.

Bear in mind that the valve isn’t always perfectly sealed. Most diverters can only manage a certain volume of water at a time. So, in homes where the water pressure is too high for the diverter, back pressure builds towards the showerhead even when you turn on the faucet.

If you are sure that water pressure is not an issue in your home, then there may be an issue with the diverter. O-rings in the valves do wear out over time, and if dripping only started recently, that may very well be the case.

Solution

To fix the problem, simply replace the washer.

However, if water pressure is the actual culprit, there is only so much a new diverter can do. You first need to figure out what is causing the backpressure.

Water Pressure

Water pressure is another reason for drippy showerheads. You need to check the water pressure in your home. Here’s how:

Sometimes the pressure may not be too high across the house, but backpressure may build in the shower due to faulty plumbing.

Here are two things that can be potentially wrong with your shower plumbing.

If you have read instructions by most showerhead manufacturers, they do not recommend PEX(polyethylene tubing). PEX tends to have a smaller inner diameter, and that can be what increases the pressure inside. That is why most manufacturers recommend copper tubing. The larger diameter is capable of handling the water pressure more effectively with no restriction to cause backpressure.

Secondly, it may be because the showerhead isn’t installed at the recommended height. You may want the showerhead closer to you, but the manufacturer has their reasons for the recommended shower height.

 Solution

Both of these problems seem severe. However, you don’t have to resort to changing the entire tubing. That can cost a lot of time and money.

You can use gravity to your advantage. Add a few vertical inches to manage the backpressure towards the showerhead. You can solve the problem without cutting the drywall by extending the length with the help of a sharkbite coupling, which creates a loop, i.e., an inverted U, that goes up and then down to the showerhead.

Why Your Tub Faucet Leaks When The Shower Is On?

In some cases, the problem can be the other way around. And in many homes, it can be both ways: the shower drips when the faucet is on, and the faucet drips when the shower is on.

The reason can be the same. It is just about how the system was installed in your home. So, the first thing you need to check even in this case is the diverter. If it is worn out, fix it and see if the problem is gone.

The second reason is again, the vertical inches. Most manufacturers recommend the inches needed between the showerhead and the tub faucet. May be your shower is not too low, but the faucet is installed a bit higher than recommended.

Again, the most practical solution is to leave the faucet be, but add more inches between the showerhead and the sprout by creating the loop as advised above.

The Overlooked Reason

Before we conclude today’s topic, let’s talk about a possible reason often overlooked. It could be the accumulation of too much debris due to hard water in your home. The debris can clog the pipe and restrict flow, resulting in backpressure. Hard water can also expedite wear and tear of valves in the system.

So, if you have a hard water issue, your first instinct should be to check for clogging.

Conclusion

While it is a common problem, it is not normal. If your shower head drips when the tub faucet is on, you need to figure out the underlying reason and fix it as soon as possible. Any delay might result in a waste of water, excessive bills, and ugly corrosion of the showerhead and the wall. Take early action, and you might just solve the problem with a simple valve replacement..

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