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Shower power

When Bonnie Harstad thinks about the numerous showerheads for sale in the Northern Plumbing Supply showroom she manages, she sighs and laughs. There are body sprays that drench from multiple directions and showers that pour from the ceilings. Sho...

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When Bonnie Harstad thinks about the numerous showerheads for sale in the Northern Plumbing Supply showroom she manages, she sighs and laughs.

There are body sprays that drench from multiple directions and showers that pour from the ceilings.

Showerheads the size of sunflowers drip water, massaging needle-jet heads shoot it out in a sharp spray and champagne showerheads bubble out like a waterfall.

Some have easy-clean faces that only require a rub of the finger to remove any build-up.

And then there's the 12-inch fiber-optic showerhead, part of an electronic shower system, which emits the seven colors of the rainbow. The colors can improve your mood -- that's called chromatherapy.

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The showerhead costs $2,000. A plumber and an electrician are needed to install it.

It's all part of a trend that is turning a daily shower into a spa treatment.

"Shower systems are more popular than the whirlpools," Harstad says. "You immediately have water. You immediately have that pulsating action. You don't have to fill a tub. You don't have to sit in the tub."

Rick Duval, owner of Rick Duval Construction and Bathrooms by Design, says that the shower is becoming a more dominant fixture in the bathroom. People don't take baths as often, and options for showerheads are becoming more diverse.

"It isn't just one sprayer that's doing you any good anymore," Duval says. "You have to have two sprayers, or six."

But even people who aren't remodeling their bathrooms, or who don't have $2,000 to spend on a showerhead, can upgrade with a couple twists and some Teflon tape.

Use a wrench or pliers to remove the old showerhead, taking care not to damage the arm or showerhead. Clean off any corrosion or hard-water deposits. Soaking the arm in warm white vinegar will remove mineral deposits. Using Teflon tape, wrap the threads of the arm three times in a clockwise direction, stretching the tape as you go. Then hand-tighten the new showerhead onto the arm.

A shower of variety

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Home improvement and discount stores sell a variety of showerheads from $3 up to $90.

Kristi Foell, kitchen and bath designer at Home Depot in Fargo, says the latest trend in showerheads is the rain model. The large, flat head has several holes which gently drip water, like a rainfall. She uses a rain model -- the Waterpik Cascadia, which costs $40.

"Usually they tend to have not enough water pressure as people enjoy," she says. "The majority of questions I get are people looking for more pressure."

For $7, there's the Incredible Head Power Showerhead, used by the Navy. Foell says her husband, who's in the military, describes it as "ripping your skin off."

The showerhead is small, not much longer than your thumb. With few holes, the water charges forward at full force.

Homes that have people of differing heights using the shower may want to buy one with a flexible arm, Foell says, which allows the showerhead to be raised or lowered.

Handheld models are also popular. Many act like a masseuse, but Foell says they work well for bathing children or pets.

"It's nice to have the handheld when they're sitting down," she says.

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They can also be used to create a shower in a tub that doesn't have one.

Also available are a variety of adapters that can extend the length of the arm, provide a mount for a handheld model, or divert water flow so one shower can have both a fixed showerhead and a handheld.

And for $89.77, Foell sells a body spray system, Shower Surround, which adds the multiple spray points without having to tear out any tile.

Foell says most showerheads will fit in any shower. She says people just need to consider how much pressure they want, and if they want a massaging feature.

"The showerhead makes the shower much more enjoyable," Foell says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5525

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