Water Comes Out of Shower Head When It’s Not On

It’s the middle of summer and you are taking a shower after a long day at work. You turn the water off to soap up, but to your surprise-water is still coming out of the shower head! Why does this happen, any idea?

If water comes out of the shower head for a few minutes after you close it. Then, it is probably the residual water that drops out slowly. The culprit behind this is a clogged shower head. However, when the shower head leaks out water constantly, it indicates a problem with the shower valve or cartridge. To fix these problems, clean the shower head with vinegar or replace its cartridge.

Further, in this post, I will throw light on the possible causes why the shower leaks when it is off, and a few solutions to fix this problem. 

Why does water come out when Shower Head is not ON? [ 3 Main Causes]

It is not common to witness water from the shower when it’s not ON. This usually happens when something is wrong with either the shower head or the components it is linked to i.e. shower cartridge and shower valve.

#1 Residual Water in the Shower Head Leaks

In case, the shower head drips for a couple of minutes after you turn it off, then that’s probably due to the residual water stored in the shower.

The shower head has tiny pores which get clogged over time due to minerals and dirt in the water. When the pores get clogged, not all of the water in the shower leaves instantly after your turn its knob. Instead, water drips slowly through the open pores. That’s why you see water dripping for some time, and then it stops. 

#2 The Shower Cartridge/Valve is Loose

If the shower drips constantly when it is turned off. That means the cartridge has turned bad.

A shower cartridge is like a valve that regulates the amount of water being sent to the shower head. It is controlled by the shower handle, which you rotate clockwise and counterclockwise.

When you turn the handle the knob counterclockwise, the cartridge slowly opens the passage for water to reach the shower head. And when you turn it clockwise, it closely its gate and no water reaches the shower head.

Due to overtightening, the cartridge becomes loose and lets the water into the shower head, even in the close position. The shower has two valves, one for the hot water and one for the cold water. If any of them are out of work, then the shower valve will leak out water.

How to fix a Shower Head that Leaks Water in Off condition?

Now, before you try to fix anything, make sure you have diagnosed the exact problem with your shower head.

Fix 1: Unclog the Shower Head

First, check if the shower drips for some time after you close it. If it does, then it is clogged.

To get rid of this problem, you need to take off the shower head and unclog it. However, follow the complete procedure to do it correctly.

Step 1: Turn off Water Supply

To avoid any accident, it is better to turn off the water supply from the shower valve before you unscrew the shower head.

Make sure to turn off both the valves when taking the shower head.

Step 2: Remove the Shower Head

Now, take a wrench and unscrew the shower head. If it is screwed too tight, then use pliers to remove it.

Step 3: Soak Shower Head in Vinegar

Take a bowl and fill it with vinegar. Now, place the shower head in it and let it soak for some time. This will help in unclogging the shower head.

Step 4: Clean Shower with Brush Underwater

Now, take an old brush and clean the shower head with it under running water. This will remove any dirt or debris that was stuck in the shower head.

Step 5:  Replace the O-ring

Sometimes, the O-ring also needs replacement. O-ring is attached to the shower head where it is linked to the shower stem. Over time, the O-ring splits and can cause the shower to drip from this point. Since you have already taken apart the shower, you can replace this ring now.

Step 6: Re-install the Shower Head

Wrap a shower stem with a thin layer of Teflon tape. Then, screw back the shower head. Don’t overtighten it.

Turn on the water supply.  Check if there is any leakage. If not, then your problem is solved.

Fix 2: Replace the faulty Shower Cartridge/Valve

If any of the shower handles, either the hot water line or cold line is free to rotate in any direction, and water is leaking out. Then, you need to replace the shower cartridge.

Step 1: Turn off Main Water Supply

Like before, turn off the water supply from the supply valve to avoid any spill of water. However, this time you will have to turn off the main supply line of your house.

Step 2: Remove the Shower Handle

To remove the shower handle, you will first need to remove the handle’s cap and look for screws under it.

Unscrew those screws and take out the handle by grabbing it tightly with a piece of cloth.

Step 3: Take off Retaining Clip and O-rings

Once you have removed the handle, look for a retaining clip that is holding the cartridge in place. Remove that and take out the old O-rings from the shower valve.

Step 4: Remove the Cartridge

With the help of a wrench or pliers, take out the cartridge from the valve.

Step 5: Install a New Cartridge in its place

To install the new cartridge, first, lubricate the O-rings with some petroleum jelly and then place them back in their respective places.

Now, take the new cartridge and place it in the valve. Tighten it with a wrench and place the shower handle back on its top.

In most cases, replacing the cartridge of the shower valve fixes the problem. However, in some cases, you need to replace the complete valve if it’s rusted or its rings are out of shape. 


Here are a few questions regarding the faulty shower head that might help in problems related to the shower head.

No water in the shower head even the shower valve is on, why?

If the shower valve is turned on and there is no water in the shower. Then, severe clogging is responsible for this to happen. Build up of lime and dirt closes the shower pores and no water spills out. In addition, a faulty diverter can be a culprit (if installed).

How to tell if your shower valve has turned bad?

A bad shower valve leaks out water from the shower head, and when you turn it, it freely rotates in both directions. Sometimes, the valve also gets stuck in its place.

Final Words

A dripping shower head can be a very annoying problem. Not only does it wastes water but also creates a mess in the bathroom. Fortunately, this problem can be fixed quite easily with some basic tools and knowledge. In most cases, you won’t even need a plumber to do it for you.

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