Are Shower Heads Universal? [How To Measure The Fit]

It’s kinda hard to feel that shower heads are not immortal; they have to die someday. I mean for them to become clogged and worn out is equally to taste death.

If your showerhead is on the verge of leaving the world, then you might be thinking about its replacement. This begs the question: Are Shower Heads Universal?

Most showerheads in the USA, UK, Canada, and throughout Europe are universal as they standardize on half-inch pipe threads. So, they are compatible to fit shower arms. However, exceptions could be showerheads manufactured in other countries, unconventional showerhead designs, and very old homes. 

That answer might be a source of satisfaction, but there are many things involved in purchasing a showerhead that fits your plumbing system perfectly.

Below, I have done a thorough analysis of this topic to ensure you purchase the showerhead that is compatible with the shower arm.

Are All Shower Heads Universal? 

As mentioned earlier, the majority of shower heads in this world are universal, which means they will comfortably fit standard shower arm pipes.

In short, 99% of showerheads have an ½ inch thread pipe that is compatible to fit any shower plumbing system. This includes both British Standard Pipe (BSP) as well as National Pipe Thread (NPT).

You can rest assured that the piece you will purchase from the local hardware store as a replacement for your old showerhead will smoothly fit your bathroom plumbing system.

But, there are some exceptions that you should be aware of. Let’s take a look at them.

What Are Exceptions That Counter Shower Heads Universal Compatibility?

Very Old Homes

If you’re living in a home that has been constructed since the late 1950s or even before, you may face a hard time finding a showerhead that comes compatible with your old home plumbing system.

In that case, you might look for other solutions, such as replacing a shower arm and using an adapter if you don’t want to ruin your bathroom walls.

However, there are few people who run into this issue because nowadays, even old homes have been remodeled with the latest pipe wiring.

But, if you’re one in a hundred who is facing this problem, one thing that I can help you with is that some old homes have ball-end shower arms.

These kinds of shower arms are only made by a few companies, such as Price Pfister, Gerber Ball, and American Standard. 

So, it would be hard to find adapters for this shower arm in local stores, but they can be easily found online.

Showerhead Manufactured In Other Countries

Another exception that can counter showerhead’s universal compatibility is purchasing a showerhead manufactured in other countries.

There are very few chances of facing this problem because the majority of showerheads, even if they are from other countries, have ½ inch thread pipe. That means It is compatible with any shower arm.

However, precaution is better than regret. Keeping this in mind, if you find a beautiful-looking showerhead in an online store, be sure to check its specs and manufactured countries before purchasing.

Unconventional Showerheads

Shower heads have many different types and each comes with different installation specs. For example, sometimes a rain shower head can’t fit over the arm of wall-mounted shower arms since many of them have ceiling installation.

So, it’s better to be aware of unconventional showerheads if you don’t want to face installation issues unless they are compatible with your shower arm.

Another point that I want to convey is that if you want to change your showerhead type, make sure that you come up with its basic installation tools to avoid trouble.

How To Check Shower Head Fitting Manually?

I have mentioned some tips below that can help you check your wall-mounted shower head fitting manually in no time.

Without further ado, let’s get straight into it.

Take Your Old Shower Head To The Store

If you’re having a hard time knowing what could be the fit size for your shower arm. The best thing you can do here is to bring the old shower head to the store and find the shower head with the same fitting.

However, for some reason, if you don’t have your old shower head, you can remove your shower arm and bring it to the store. 

This way, you can settle all the fitting criteria at the store rather than checking everything from scratch at home.

But what if you’re purchasing a showerhead from an online store or can’t take existing parts to the store? No worries, we have you covered. 

Let’s check the second tip to find the answer.

Measure Your Shower Arm

If you have problems bringing existing parts to the store or purchasing shower heads on an online platform. In that case, the least you can do is measure the shower arm and buy a showerhead that can fit that size.

Here’s how you can do it.

Male and Female Threads

To measure the shower arm, the first thing you have to do is to check what type of threads are on your shower arm.

Don’t get confused here, you just need to check whether the threads on your shower arm are constructed inside or outside.

Male threads are those that are situated outside of the shower arm while female threads are situated inside of the shower arm.

Suppose your shower arm has male threads then you will have to look for shower heads with female threads so that both can fit with each other. 

Parallel and Tapered

The next part is to look at whether the threads of the shower arm are parallel and tapered. The difference between the two is that tapered threads maintain a consistent diameter while the parallel will decrease the diameter along with the threads.

You will find that by looking at the threads of your shower arm. If you’re from the US or Canada, it is quite obvious that you will have a shower arm with tapered threads. 

However, double-check the threads and make sure that your connection resembles each other since the tapered male part will connect with the tapered female part.

Inner and Outer Diameter

Now it’s time to measure the diameter. Start by measuring the male and female threads. Male threads will be measured from the outside, while female threads will be measured from the inside. 

Correspondingly, they are designated by “I.D” for inner diameter and “O.D.” for outer diameter. After that, take the actual measurement and compare it on a thread chart to find a trade and nominal size.

You might be wondering what a nominal size (trade size) is; it is a standard naming convention to identify parts. The measurements you have taken will be used to find a showerhead compatible with your shower arm.

Buy Several Shower Heads Of Different Sizes And Return Those That Won’t Work

If all of the above tricks prove to be a failure for you, then I recommend following this one. But, this technique might not work for all and does not have a 100% success rate. You can use it as your last option.

First head on to the nearest hardware store and purchase several shower heads of different sizes. Try them all on your shower arm to see which can fit on it. If you’re successful in finding one showerhead compatible with the shower arm, return all others at the store.

Ask For Help

You can use this trick as your first option because asking for help from experts will help solve your problem. You can take help from your DIY friend or even contact a plumber to suggest the best size showerhead for the shower arm.

Hiring a plumber may cost you a lot, but it will help save valuable time that you would be wasting by following other methods. 

FAQs Related To Are Shower Heads Universal

Are Shower Heads Easy To Replace?

You can easily replace an old showerhead with a new one. All you need are some tools that can help you with the installation process.

Do All Shower Heads Fit Any Shower?

All Shower Heads have a standard size of ½ inch NPT that can smoothly fit on any shower. This includes the National Pipe Thread size that is standardized in the US and Canada.

Do All Shower Heads Fit All Hoses?

The majority of shower mixers have a 1/2-inch thread, and almost all shower hoses are standardized to this size (on both ends). The 3/4 inch thread is much rarer but can be found on multiple shower hoses. The best part is you can use connectors to make these connections fit 1/2-inch hoses.

Do All Shower Head Fit Shower Arms?

Shower arms are universal to attach with showerheads as both come with the same thread size 1⁄2 inch NPT. They are compatible with the majority of shower heads.

Can You Change Shower Head In A Rental?

You can change the shower head in a rental as far as there are no conditions in your lease for plumbing and fixtures. Besides, it is recommended to have a conversation about this matter with your landlord. If you’re not allowed to change the showerhead, make sure to keep the old one safe, so you can put it back in the same place when you move out.

Wrapping It Up!

Almost 99% of shower heads are compatible with attached shower arms available at homes. So, you can rest assured the shower head you’re purchasing at the store will support your shower arm unless it is not old or outdated.

This guide has explained everything you need to know about ARE SHOWER HEADS UNIVERSAL. I hope this helps find you the answer you have been looking for.

If you have any questions, you can ask them below in the comment section; I would love to answer them. UNTIL NEXT TIME!!!!

Related Articles: How To Install A Handheld Shower Head

Hey there, I'm Abdul Moeed Shahid, the DIY aficionado and experienced writer. With a wealth of knowledge gained from years of honing my craft, I bring my expertise to the world of DIY and home improvement projects.

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