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DIY Guide for a Shower Valve Replacement

DIY Guide for a Shower Valve Replacement

It takes more than some DIY skills to replace a shower valve successfully. Depending on the fixture’s issue, you may be required to know how to remove caulk, disassemble valves, and even solder. That’s where this guide comes in place.

While there are minor differences in what you might need for each specific job, this guide will present the typical steps that should be expected. Let’s jump right in.

Preparation

For any DIY project, it is advisable to identify what needs fixing and gather the required tools before working on it.

There are three main types of valves:

  • Pressure balancing valves that a swivel handle can adjust to make the pressure moderate and combine hot and cold water
  • Thermostatic valves regulate water temperatures at a particular set point in one direction
  • Diverter/Transfer valves that you press to switch water flow from the bath faucet to the showerhead and vice versa

If there is a leak in the handle or loss of temperature control over water heat, then the cartridge is to blame. But if the temperature is the problem without any leak, dirt and lime accumulation may be the culprit.

However, you shouldn’t ignore the possibility that irregularities in your showers might result from issues with plumbing installed on walls. In any case, check the type and shower brand parts you are repairing.

And when you have the replacement part(s) at hand, whether the cartridge or whole valve needs replacing, it’s time to gather the other necessary tools.

  • Screwdriver, needle nose pliers, channel lock pliers, and Allen wrenches
  • A small hacksaw and utility knife if the escutcheon plate is caulked on the wall and to extract some of the wall.
  • Lime remover or vinegar for a clean up
  • If you’re changing the entire valve assembly and dealing with copper pipes, a soldering kit and a Teflon thread tape will come in handy.
  • Rags or towels can be used for an additional grip or to cover the base floor tube or tub shower (to prevent any nut bolt from dripping down the drain)

Here are some steps to replace a shower valve:

Step 1: Switch Off the Water Supply and Cover the Drain

First, turn off the water supply. But if the shower has an isolation valve, you can use it instead of turning off all water in the house. After doing so, you can open the valve to drain the remaining water.

With no remaining water, put a towel in the bottom of the tub or shower to block the drain. This will ensure that no small tools or pieces get lodged in the drain while you are working.

Step 2: Remove the Handle and Showerhead

Next, remove the shower handle with a hex key. Before you begin, it is worth checking your model since different models take different hex keys. Also, remove the showerhead.

Remember to place the parts in a safe spot since such items can easily go missing in the process. It will also ensure they are easy to locate while reassembling your shower.

Step 3: Remove and Clean the Trim Plate

Unscrew the trim plate and clean it thoroughly to enhance the aesthetics of your shower. Soaking the plate in vinegar can help remove caked-on residue and dirt without compromising its look.

You may also have to scrape the caulk. The easiest way of achieving this is to cut it carefully using a utility knife and peel away any residue.

Prying off multiple caulk layers that have dried out is also possible with needle-nosed pliers. If you are concerned about scratching the wall, consider investing in a caulk remover tool.

Step 4: Remove the Valve

While there will already be a hole around your former shower valve, you may have to enlarge the opening for better access. Double-check the size of your trim plate before cutting away any wall or tiles so you don’t get a hole too large to cover properly.

The essential thing is to be careful when cutting off the wall materials. If you are unsure, then it’s advisable to ask a professional plumber to do the work for you.

After locating the valve, make it accessible by using pliers to pull out the valve clip. The clip can be recycled or held as a spare if it is in good state. But almost all new shower valves are equipped with a replacement clip as part of the package.

You might also have to remove any retainer nuts using an Allen wrench. Then, you can remove the old valve with pliers. Try wiggling a little if it’s jammed tightly to loosen the grip.

Step 5: Install the New Valve

Push in the new valve using pliers, and connect your water pipes. If it doesn’t fit, ensure that you’ve selected the correct valve size because using an incorrectly sized one may lead to severe problems.

Step 6: Reconnect the Water Supply

You’ll need to link your new shower valve to the water supply. If you have PEX pipes, tape around the male thread and put on coupling and crimp fittings. Copper pipes need to be soldered on, but be careful; damaging your new valve with the solder heat is easy.

Step 7: Check for Any Leaks

Open the water supply and monitor the valve and system to ensure no leakage. If the connections begin to leak, tighten them more securely or increase solder application until the water leaks stop.

Proceed to replace the trim plate by screwing it and caulking around its perimeter when you are comfortable that your system is watertight. Restore the shower handle and clear away the rags in the drain.

How do I penetrate the wall to reach out for a valve?

Check the other side of the wall where there is a shower. For this, there are usually access panels. However, removing that drywall is inevitable if you don’t have an access panel. If your place is aging, you may require an asbestos inspection before doing anything.

If there is only one waterline, then why are two valves used to shut it off?

There is a hot water tap and another one for cold water. With no shutoff valves behind the wall, you will have to locate and turn off the water supply to the entire house, open the fixture to ease the pressure, and completely drain the water.

How do I know if a shower valve needs to be replaced?

Some signs that indicate your shower valve needs to be replaced are unstable temperature, low water pressure, and water dripping from the showerhead. If you notice any of these, go over this guide again and replace it. You can always check STARBATH for the right valves before making that move.

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