Especially if you’ve been using the same shower for a while, you may start to notice issues with your shower valve. In particular, have you ever experienced a sudden cold or hot burst of water in your shower if someone turns on a tap in another part of the house? Such incidents can be not only inconvenient but can even lead to burns. Thankfully you can prevent these problems by installing a new shower valve in your bathroom.
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In this article, let’s go into the details of what a shower valve is and how it works.
What is a Shower Valve?
A shower valve or a shower mixing valve is a mechanical part of your shower system that performs two essential functions for a safe bathing experience for the user. First, it controls the water temperature, preventing unexpected bursts of very hot or cold water like described above. Secondly, a shower valve allows the user to adjust the flow of water in the shower. It usually has one or more adjustable knobs to operate manually so the user can pick the optimum temperature and pressure for their shower.
You may be interested in our full reviews of shower valves.
How It Works
As mentioned, shower valves help control several factors:
- Temperature: The natural temperature of water from your water supply may be painfully hot. To resolve this issue, and generally provide for controlled water temperature, shower valves allow both cold and hot water to mix in standard proportions. Thanks to the combined temperatures, the water won’t come out too hot, preventing any burns for the bather.
- Water Flow: Shower valves also include flow controls and diverters within the pipework that control the overall flow rate of the shower and direct the water to specific outlets. This detail helps standardize your water pressure and ensure you’ll have a controlled amount of water coming from your faucet each time.
- Water Outlets: Finally, shower valves may have one or more outlets depending on the number of faucets in your bathroom. For example, a one-way shower valve works with only a single faucet, while a two-way unit works with a shower head and an attached handheld shower. Units with multiple outlets basically help divert the water flow to either of the outlets with the turn of a knob. Furthermore, each outlet has a corresponding control unit attached to a mechanical handle, so you can control the water flow, temperature, and more for each potential outlet.
Modern shower valves typically have a lifetime finish that supports non-corrosive, non-toxic operation for many years. However, there are certain signs to look out for to determine if there are any issues:
- Check for any leaking, especially when you’re renovating your house or moving to a new one. If the leak can’t be fixed, you’ll need to purchase a new shower valve
- If you notice unexpected changes in either water temperature or pressure, your valve likely isn’t working correctly
For either of the issues above, you may need to call a plumber to help with repairs. If you do need a totally new system instead, the good news is that the process if very straightforward. You can even install a new valve on your own, or with only limited help from a plumbing professional.
Installing a new shower valve is a fairly simple DIY process, particularly if you have previous experience. Overall, you’ll need to follow the below steps:
- Unscrew the handle bolt to remove the cover from the shower handle.
- Then, unscrew the bolt that keeps the decorative plate in place. Remove the plate.
- Next, you’ll have to remove a portion of the wall behind the valve by cutting the sheetrock
- Once you have enough access, remove the old valve by cutting the inward and outward water flow pipes
- Solder the new unit to the plumbing for a robust connection. However, note that soldering requires specific technical skills and can be risky. Therefore, if you don’t have soldering experience, we recommend working with an experienced plumber for this step in particular
- Re-install the plate and the handle to the shower system and tightly screw the bolts
- Finally, make sure to check and test the shower efficiency to confirm everything works as expected
Picking the Right Option
The best shower valve for your bathroom is one that’s durable, effective, and, most importantly, fits your bathroom layout. Our researchers reviewed the top choices and came up with 3 top features to keep in mind:
- Material: If the unit is rusty or cheaply made, it can contaminate the outflowing water and make the bather sick. Therefore, look to pick a shower valve made out of a durable, reliable material to avoid any unexpected issues.
- Bathroom compatibility: There are many types of shower valves with some made for particular user needs, such as multiple faucets. Therefore, choose the shower valve that works with your specific needs. You’ll want to think about outlets, temperature controls, and any bathroom specifications to validate before picking out your new valve.
- Minimum water pressure: Finally, every shower valve comes with a minimum pressure rating, typically between 0.1bar to 0.5bar. However, some options that include diverters have a pressure rating as high as two. Therefore, be sure to validate your water pressure before finalizing your new shower valve choice.
Thankfully, new shower valve are typically affordable compared to the large benefit they can bring. Overall, most new shower valves cost between $40 to $70, although some can cost more. However, if you plan on hiring a plumber, don’t forget to factor in about 2 hours of their professional time. Therefore, with plumber costs included, your total spend could reach up to $400 depending on the specific parts and your bathroom space.
All in all, installing a new shower valve is an important way to regulate your bathroom’s water temperature and flow. Whether you’re looking to support multiple outlets or you need to repair an old malfunctioning valve, we hope this article helps you understand how to replace your shower valve like a pro.