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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Dripping shower irritates reader

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)
Leon Frechette Correspondent

Can you tell me why my showerhead drips water after I turn off the shower and how I can correct the problem? I’m not talking about a leak where the showerhead attaches to the shower arm, but rather water dripping from the end of the showerhead. It’s a slow drip, not continuous, and it does eventually stop. I have a tub spout where I pull up on the handle to start the shower. Anything you can tell me would be most appreciated. – Scott H., Spokane

A: Since the showerhead eventually stops dripping, the problem is not with the shower valve. Instead, you have a simple – but annoying – case of the “dripping showerhead blues.” Basically, when you turn on the water and pull up the shower diverter lever on top of the tub spout, the water is redirected and forced up the shower standpipe and out the shower arm and showerhead.

Once the shower is turned off and the shower diverter lever is pushed down, excess water in the vertical shower standpipe (inside the wall) falls backward so most of the water drains into the tub through the tub spout. During this process, an airlock develops in the standpipe, trapping water in the horizontal portion of the shower arm and also in the showerhead.

Inside the showerhead near the back is a flow restrictor which may restrict air entering the system, air that would normally help to completely flush out the water once the shower diverter lever is pushed down.

There are a couple of procedures worth trying. Before pushing down the shower diverter lever, turn off the water and raise the showerhead to an upright position. The combination of the showerhead pointing upward and your pushing down on the diverter should create a siphoning action to completely drain the system.

Because every showerhead is a little different, there’s no guarantee that your system will completely drain. It’s possible that the diverter will automatically open when you turn off the shower. If this occurs, hold up the diverter lever before you shut off the water, lift the showerhead up, and finally push in the diverter.

I experienced the same problem, so I put the diverter in the downward position and allow the standpipe to drain. Then I turn the water on and off about four times for a few seconds; this breaks the airlock and forces any remaining water out through the showerhead. Some showerheads can hold up to a cup of water, so it may take some time for the showerhead to completely drain.

Here’s the bottom line: You’ll have to manually drain the system. Yes, it’s a nuisance but it takes less than a minute. Do it while you are still standing in the tub and your annoying drip will stop.

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