Dripping, sputtering or spewing cold water, a shower valve that isn't working correctly can be a daily pain. A faulty shower faucet doesn't have to be a nuisance. With the right tools and basic skills, you can have a shower valve replaced and in good working order in just a few hours.
What a Shower Valve Does
The flow and temperature that flows from the shower head are controlled by the control valve. There are two types: A single and a double. The single valve uses one handle to control both the temperature and flow, while the double has two handles that control both. The single control valve has a lever or handle that allows water to flow to the showerhead by either begin flipped, turned or pushed. You can increase the water temperature by turning the lever or handle toward the hot water symbol. A valve with two controls has separate handles for hot and cold water to flow to the showerhead, which allows for more accurate temperatures and flow for individual showers. The water lines go to each control valve and correspond with the hot and cold on the outside of the shower valve.
Replacing a Shower Valve
Turn off the water supply to the shower. If you don't have a separate shutoff for each room, turn off the water to the whole house. Relieve pressure in the lines of the house by opening a faucet at a downstairs sink if you have to stop the water to the whole house and the shower is upstairs. The hot water should be on the left and cold on the right. They come together in the valve and the diverter shoots the water up to the showerhead or through the tub spout. Remove the old valve by taking off the trim plate and widening the opening. With needle nose pliers, remove the valve clip carefully so that it can be reused. Remove the retainer nut if there is one. Pull the valve out of the wall. Clean out any old rust or debris before inserting the new valve. Put the metal clip back into place to secure the valve. Tighten the water stops and check your work before turning the water back on. If all is working well, put the trim plate back on the shower wall.
Reasons Shower Valves Aren’t Working
After you've done all the hard work and have turned the water back on and the shower still isn't functioning properly, there are a few ways to troubleshoot what could be wrong. The valve should be flushed before installation to rid it of any debris from the factory or from the removal of packaging. This can be a messy job so have towels at the ready and close the shower door if possible. You can also flush out the riser pipe if the problem continues. Make sure the screwdriver stops are completely turned to the "on" position.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.