Ask Pete: Why Does My Shower Suddenly Start Dripping?

In this edition of “Ask Pete,” Pete answers your questions about your shower. Specifically, why does it suddenly start dripping out of nowhere; not just that it drips constantly, but when it releases water all of a sudden. Let’s find out what could cause that.

Q: Why does my shower suddenly start dripping?

A sudden leaking or dripping can be one of a few simple things but the mystery of why your shower does that randomly after it hasn’t been used in a while is kind of an interesting question. You don’t want that happening because, one, it wastes water and costs money, and two, it could be leaking behind the showerhead as well which can lead to bigger problems down the road.

One possibility is that your shower head has buildup and it needs a quick clean with something that will take care of Arizona’s vicious hard water buildup. I know some people like to use lemon and/or vinegar and give it a good scrub, but you can also use traditional cleaners to get it off. Then the water won’t get stuck behind the buildup and freak us out by randomly dripping later.

Other things that can cause it are O-rings and rubber washers getting old and brittle. These are the seals that are on the showerhead and on the valve that prevents water from leaking. If they fail, they need to be replaced. If you are experienced with handyman stuff, you might be able to do this yourself or just give us a call.

Q: Why does it start dripping in the middle of the night?

I’m guessing that you are asking this again because when it happens in the middle of the night, that means that it starts dripping when you haven’t recently showered and no one has used any water for a few hours. The answer? It’s a ghost! Just kidding. This actually is a pretty common thing we see. It can still be all the usual causes of a leak like we already went over, but that hard water buildup is holding back the water until it builds up, pushes out the obstruction, and then starts a drip sequence. Other causes might be if there is someone using water elsewhere in the line and it started the whole thing up, or it could be you have a timed pre-heater that is impacting the water pressure in that line. In any case, we are happy to come to take a look at it for you. 

Q: Is it normal for a showerhead to drip?

Yes, it is normal and no cause for worry as long as it is a really short sequence right after using the showerhead and it doesn’t continue for too long. When you turn the shower off, the water built up still might need to get out so a few drips are expected. If you still hear it going minutes after you’ve gotten out, you need to check that it is fully off. If it is shut off tight, but still dripping, give us a call because that can indicate a problem or cost you money.

Q: Can high water pressure cause leaking?

Yes, among other problems, too high water pressure can cause built-up pressure at a tap and then you get drips or full-on leaks. Call your plumber if it doesn’t resolve with those easy fixes (like checking the tap is fully off, turning it on then back off real quick, checking screw heads and seals, etc). Your home’s water pressure should be between 30 and 80 psi. We consider 50-60psi to be the sweet spot, and it really shouldn’t be higher than 75psi to be safe. You can have that tested, too. 

So, there you have it. Everything you wanted to know about unsettling shower drips and leaks that come on suddenly. We are here to help if we can answer any questions or help with any of your plumbing needs. Reach out to us at 480-388-6093 or learn more on our services page.