Is it time to replace a shower valve in your bathroom? A leaky shower may have a faulty shower valve that you can replace. Replacing a shower valve yourself may be possible with the following guide.
Before You Begin Replacing Shower Valve
Before beginning the task of replacing your shower valve, you will want to gather a few tools and materials:
- Utility knife
Depending on your existing shower setup, you may also need additional items like PEX tubing or female thread fittings. You may also decide to update your trim plate and other bathroom components when you replace a shower valve. Of course, you will also need a new shower faucet valve.
You can also use information from a verified home improvement site to gather the materials you need to complete the project. This ensures you have everything you need before beginning installation.
How to Choose the Right Shower Valve
Before you begin the DIY task to replace your shower valve, you will need to choose a replacement valve. There are three main types of shower valves, including:
- Pressure balancing: A pressure balancing shower valve is one of the most common types of valve. It balances the hot and cold water, along with the right supplying the right amount of pressure.
- Diverter and transfer valve: A diverter and transfer valve allow you to adjust the water flow between the shower and tub.
- Thermostatic: Thermostatic valves allow your shower to maintain a consistent temperature that you can adjust to your preference.
The type of shower valve that you currently have will depend on your faucet and shower setup. You may replace a shower valve with the same cartridge, or choose a different one.
Common Issues With Shower Valves
What causes faulty shower valves? It can be helpful to consider this before you replace a shower valve so you can prevent it from happening again.
These are a few of the most common issues with shower valves:
Debris and Limescale
Debris and limescale can build up in your shower and on your shower valve. This can lead to the shower valve wearing out faster and leaking. In some cases, you can clean the shower handle and old valve, removing the limescale which may solve your problem.
However, sometimes the debris and limescale damage the shower valve cartridge meaning you need a new cartridge. It is possible that you may not be able to determine if the leaking shower is due to limescale until you remove the trim plate. You may notice the limescale on the shower drain or outside of the tub spout, which likely means it is inside the trim plate also.
Normal Wear and Tear
Shower valves will naturally wear out over time. The bearing begins to break down and at first, you may notice small leaks until it is a larger leak. Normal wear and tear to any parts of the shower, including the trim plate, may indicate that it is time to replace a shower valve.
Changes in Your Bathroom
If you make changes to other plumbing features within your bathroom, like during a remodel, it can also affect the shower valve. For example, if you install a new bathtub drain or change out your water heater, you may have to check that the other parts of your shower are working properly.
Changing out certain plumbing systems or replacing a shower may mean that you need to also install a new shower valve.
These are a few causes that may indicate that you need to replace a shower valve. An old valve can easily wear down and stop working correctly. If you are not sure that your problem falls into any of these categories, you may need to contact a licensed plumber.
Some people may also choose to replace their shower valves when updating the bathroom design. It is the perfect opportunity to deep clean and changes out bathroom items. You might also change out your shower valves in the whole house for convenience. Diverter and thermostatic valves can make it easier to transition water from the showerhead to the tub.
When Do You Change Shower Valve?
The biggest indicator that it is time to replace your shower valve is if your shower is leaking. If the leak is due to the valve, it should stop leaking as soon as you replace it. Replacing the shower valve as soon as possible is important. Otherwise, a leaking shower can put you at risk of water damage and increased water bills.
Left unreplaced for a long period of time, a damaged shower valve can lead to expensive water damage that includes mold.
Another indicator that it is time to change your shower valve is inconsistent water temperature and pressure. A new water valve not only can prevent leaks but also help with water flow and temperature.
What Happens When a Shower Valve Goes Bad?
A few things commonly indicate that your old valve has gone bad. You may have the following indicators:
- Cold water that you are unable to heat
- Leaking water
- Hot and cold water that does not transition well or inconsistent water temperature/flow
- Signs of mold
These indications usually mean that it is time to replace a shower valve. However, you may first decide to open up the wall plate and evaluate it further.
How to Replace a Shower Valve- 8 Steps
With a few tools and this guide, you may be able to install your shower valve on your own.
Step 1- Cover Your Shower Components
It is worth it to take the extra time to protect your shower components before you install a shower valve. Protect your shower drain and wall by covering the area with a protective cloth. Depending on the size of your shower, you might also cover the shower head. Avoid losing screws, especially down the drain. You also want to prevent screws from getting lost on the bathroom floor.
Step 2- Turn Off the Water
Before taking apart the parts of the shower, turn off the water. This is especially important if you are putting in new cartridges due to your shower leaking. You may be able to turn off the water supply by turning the handle to one of the two stopping points. If the leak is heavy and you are unable to turn off the water supply, then you may consider turning off the water supply to the entire home.
Step 3- Unscrew the Shower Handle
You will need to unscrew and remove the shower handle. Be sure to keep track of all screws and other components so you can easily replace them when finished.
Step 4- Remove the Escutcheon Trim Plate
Remove the escutcheon trim plate by unscrewing it from the wall. You may need to scrape away some of the caulk with a utility knife if it holds it in place. You will also need to unscrew both sides of the trim plate on the wall to access the valves. If you do have to remove caulk from the wall, you can usually easily replace it with some new caulk to ensure a secure fit.
Caulk is also very affordable and you can find it at most home improvement stores.
Step 5- Cut a Hole to Access the Shower Valve
The existing hole may not be large enough to access and replace the shower valve. You may need to cut a bigger hole in the wall to reach the valve. Ideally, you want a minimum of 12 inches by 12 inches to ensure you have enough room to work. Be sure not to make the hole in the wall too large as you want it to be covered when you replace the trim plate. You can use the trim plate to guide you on the hole size.
Step 6- Remove the Valve Clip
Using a pair of pliers, take the metal end and remove the valve clip from the hole in the wall. Some showers may have a retainer nut, which you may also have to remove. You can pull the metal clip valve out using the valve cartridge. It is possible that you may be able to reuse the existing clip. If it is still in good shape, you can simply replace it when you install the new valve.
Step 7- Remove the Valve
Remove the shower valve and pull it through the hole in the wall. Hold on to any screw you may need to replace a shower valve.
Step 8- Complete the Shower Valve Assembly
Replace the shower valve cartridge, replacing the clip if needed. Replace the trim plate and shower handle. Pull tight to ensure that the handle is secure. Screw the screws back into place.
Possible Modifications When You Replace a Shower Valve
Some bathrooms may have additional requirements or necessary modifications. For example, if your existing shower has copper pipes, then you may need to use your soldering skills to securely connect each metal end. When soldering, you also want to test that you replaced the cartridge securely. You can turn the water supply back on and check that the leak is gone.
If you are using PEX pipe to install the new shower valve, then you will need Teflon tape to securely attach the male threads to the PEX pipe. Then, you will need to install the female threads. You can do this by using pipe crimp fittings.
Another option for secure attachment is Teflon tape. Before soldering and attaching valves to piping, make sure all items are thoroughly dry and clean.
It is always a good idea to evaluate your plumbing skills before beginning a project to replace a shower valve. It is best to have at least some plumbing knowledge. Otherwise, you may hire a professional plumber instead.
Tips on Installing a New Valve
These additional tips can help you when replacing a new valve:
- Know when to call a professional plumber, both to ensure that the new valve is fitted accurately and that you are able to complete the project safely.
- Purchase your supplies ahead of time, including the PEX tubing and new valve cartridge.
- Measure shower trim plates before making a hole larger.
- Always turn off the water supply before beginning the new cartridge replacement.
- Use this project as an opportunity to thoroughly clean shower parts, including the faucet, handle, and retainer nut.
- Consider your bathroom materials first. For example, with copper pipes, you will need to solder. It is also important to know the difference between female thread fittings, male, and pipe crimp fittings.
With a little preparation and the right tools, you can replace a shower valve on your own. Once you replace a shower valve that is leaking with a new valve, you should get better water flow and temperature control.