How to Replace a Shower Valve at Home
In this article we’ll talk about an unseen part of a shower, the shower valve behind wall. Even though you may not see or even know about it, it’s there and it’s working to give you an amazing shower without any interruptions. But the problem occurs when it warns you about its existence. Yes, by giving you troubles. You’d not want to deal with that.
How to Replace a Shower Valve at Home
So, the solution you have in hand is to have it fixed or replaced. How? Calling a plumber? Are you sure you want spend money there when you can do it home by yourself and save a few bucks. Replacing shower valve behind wall is not actually easy peasy lemon squeezy but I can hopefully help you there.
ALSO READ: HOW TO REPLACE SHOWER FAUCET BY YOURSELF
What Is A Shower Valve ?
Chances are you’ve never heard of it, if it hasn’t given you any trouble, yet. If you have, ever wondered what is this shower valve actually? There are various kinds of shower valves used in households. Pressure balancing valve, thermostatic valve or the diverter & transfer valves may be the ones you might have heard about. Pressure-balancing valves are the most common type of valve used in household; it controls the temperature to ensure that the ratio of hot and cold water stay constant.
Thermostatic valve helps your shower to reach to a Pre-set temperature, you can simply run the water and it will do it so automatically. And the diverter and transfer valve changes the direction of your water flow. And the transfer valve works so that you can run water from multiple faucets, like transferring water from wall-mounted shower to hand-held showers.
Why You Might Need to Change or Replace Your Shower Valve?
1. If it has a leakage problem. It’s quite common problem but a serious one. You cannot ignore it. The more you delay changing the shower valve the more damage it is causing to your bathroom wall. And the leakage can be more serious behind the wall where you can’t see it.
2. If it reacts slowly. Imagine you are in shower and suddenly the water turns boiling hot and the next moment freezing cold just because someone else ran another tap in your house. Then it might be time to change the valve of your shower.
3. If you’re upgrading your shower. You can’t possibly expect your old shower valve to work fine with the upgraded shower system. If you’re thinking of installing a pre-set temperature system in your shower to save your time from twiddling with the water temperature, changing your shower valve is a given.
It is wise to act fast when it comes to fixing problems of Machineries. You might be worsening it unintentionally while delaying the repairing.
Problems with Shower Valve and How to Fix Them:
If your shower valve has build up lime and dirt. This is not only nasty looking it also disturbs the function of valve. Such as causing problems while changing the water temperature.
You can get rid of the grimes by removing the cartridge and also the other parts that is easy to disassemble, soak them in CLR cleaner and use a rag or toothbrush to scrub the lime off. If the component is plastic, CLR can do harm to it.
Use white vinegar for plastics. For your own safety use rubber gloves while rubbing the minerals off. Then rinse the acid off carefully because acid can damage the metal if they are left for a long period of time.
And if you’re thinking of changing the temperature of your hot water unit completely, your shower valve won’t adjust automatically, and this might cause problems
To avoid it, you’ll have to adjust the stop in your shower’s pressure balancing valve. Or if you have thermostatic valve, adjust the temperature setting of that to adapt to any change.
From everyday use, shower valves suffer from aging and may need repairs. You may face your shower valve seal fail and leak water. Also if the ball bearings wear out, it may cause the thermostatic valve to slow down and react negatively on the speed pressure.
If this happens, your shower temperature might start to act in an unsteady manner, and react slowly to the sudden change of water pressure.
You can replace the valve to fix any possible issue. And if it’s been long time since you’ve done it so, then maybe it is time to change it.
HOW TO REPLACE A SHOWER VALVE ?
It requires lot of patience while replacing shower valve behind wall. So don’t give up mid way and try to keep up with the instructions. Let’s have a look at them.
Step by step procedure
1. Shut the water off before the operation to avoid leaks. It’s better to shut the entire water supply of home if you cannot find the water stops for your shower.
2. To be safe, at first cover the drain with a cloth. This will prevent losing small parts like screws while you’re working on the shower valve. And keep the small parts together.
3. The screws which hold the shower handle with the wall, remove them and keep them in a safe place. It will take a moment to wiggle the handle off the stem.
4. For the trim plate, it should be screwed to wall, unscrew both screws and lift it from the wall. Put it together with the shower handle. Since you have already took the trim plate off, you can clean the trim plate with vinegar or other solution for any grime build up, and make it look new again. If there is caulk you can scrape it off with a knife.
5. Make sure of it again that the water supply is off. After lifting the trim plate off you’ll see a wall opening which should be 12 cm by 12 cm if not then you’ll need to cut it large. If needed, you can ask for help or look it up on verified home improvement site. But don’t cut it too large that the trim plate won’t be able to cover the hole.
6. Look closely over the shower valve, you’ll find a metal clip. Use a needle-nose pliers to lift the clip up. See if it’s damaged, if not keep it with other parts to avoid losing it, you can reuse it that way.
7. Now use pliers to pull the valve cartridge out. Grip the metal part of the valve cartridge and pull it firmly out. Use a thicker one to get the job done easily. If it doesn’t come out in one go, wiggle it a bit. After getting it out, you can dispose of it, you won’t need that anymore.
8. Get a valve cartridge identical to your previous one. It is important to double check the model you’re buying. It won’t fit otherwise. Grip the end of the new valve cartridge and slide it in its slot, and wiggle it again if it gets stuck anywhere that it won’t slide in any farther.
9. After getting the new cartridge in its place, fetch the metal clip that came with the new valve cartridge, or you can use the old one too. Though I won’t recommend it. The newer one is supposed to give you lengthier service. Insert it with the needle-nose pliers the same way you pulled it out. If you have put the valve cartridge the correct way, then the clip is supposed to go right in. And won’t be much visible.
10. Now, if you’ve used shower's water stops to shut the water, turn it back on before closing the wall opening. Remember to turn both the water stops on if you have two for hot and cold water.
11. You’re almost done now. Screw the trim plate over the wall opening. Apply a new layer of caulk if it had a layer before. Finally, screw the shower handle back in its place.
12. If you didn’t use shower’s water stop but the main water supply to shut it off, then now turn on the main water supply of home. And turn the shower on to make sure it’s fixed and works perfectly. Remove the cloth from the drain.
With this you’ve changed your shower valve all by yourself. We can hope that it went well. If you’ve enlarged the wall opening bigger that the trim plate can’t cover it, use caulk to fill it back in. And this should do the work.
From this article you should have understood by now about how important it is to have your shower valve work properly. Since, it doesn’t need changing very often, after getting a proper replacement once you should be free from worry for a long enough period of time.
To replace it at home you should have at least tiny bit of DIY skill. If not we’d recommend that you take help from someone who has, or simply call a plumber in. Your well-being should always be the top priority.