Whether you’re installing a shower valve or replacing an old unit, the process is the same. The biggest difference is that you have better access to the shower valve during new construction because the walls are open. In either case, the job is straightforward as long as you’re working with copper or plastic pipes.
If you have a bathroom in an older house with galvanized steel pipes, you’re better off calling in a plumber who will have the specialized tools to cut and thread this type of pipe.
Most of the newer shower valves install the same way. This project illustrates the basic steps to rough in a shower valve, which is unique in that it has additional water jets in the shower valve assembly and an oversize opening that makes replacing an old shower valve easier. The jets not only tickle your middle with water, but for remodeling purposes, they’re covered by a larger-thannormal escutcheon plate. The escutcheon conceals the control handle and jets, and allows you to cut a large opening in the wall.
The particular shower valve you choose may not be exactly like this unit, but the installation is basically the same. Manufacturers include installation instructions with their units along with the rough-in dimensions.
To replace a shower valve, you need these materials:
» Emery cloth tow
» Flux (to coat copper joints when soldering)
» Hand saw, jigsaw, or spiral-cut saw
» Propane torch
» Putty knife
» Shower valve
» Solder or plastic pipe cement
Follow these steps to install a new shower valve. When you’re replacing an old shower valve, rather than installing a new one, do Step 1 and then jump to Step 9.
1. Turn off the water.
2. Remove the escutcheon from the existing valve.
Take off the control handle first. Then remove the screws holding the plate against the wall. If the escutcheon was installed with caulk, score it with a utility knife. Try to avoid scratching tile you plan to leave in place.
3. Use the template provided by the manufacturer or the escutcheon plate from the new valve to locate the position of the new hole in the wall.
If there is no template trace around the escutcheon, use a pencil to make a new line about 1/2 inch inside the escutcheon profile line (see Figure 1).
|Figure 1: Use the escutcheon as a template to position and cut the hole to access the pipes.|
4. Use a hand saw, jigsaw, or spiral-cut saw (see Figure 2 ) to cut the opening in the wall for the new valve by following the outline of the cover plate.
Carefully check inside a wall for the location of the existing pipes before you cut into it. To get a good view, shine a flashlight on the hole as you hold a small mirror in the hole. Look for electrical lines and water and vent pipes that may be in the way.
|Figure 2: You can use a spiral-cut saw to cut the opening for the valve.|
5. If the old pipes are copper, unsolder the valve body from the water pipes.
6. Heat the valve close to the pipe, gripping the valve body with pliers.
7. As the solder melts, twist the valve body and pull it off the pipe. Do the same for the remaining pipes.
Wear leather gloves because the copper will be hot.
Plastic pipes can’t be removed from the valve body and must be cut. Use a hacksaw to cut them as close to the valve body as possible.
8. The new valve requires support. If no blocking is behind the old valve, cut a 2-x-4 and insert it between the wall studs behind the valve.
Check the roughing-in dimensions for your particular valve and adjust the position of the support so that the valve protrudes the proper distance from the wall.
9. To connect the valve to the water supply pipes, first clean the ends and inside of the pipes with flux.
Clean the end of the pipe with emery cloth and then use a wire brush to clean inside the fitting. Apply the flux to the outside of the pipe and the inside of the fitting. Flux prevents oxidation, helping the solder form a good bond.
10. Insert supply pipes into the valve body.
11. Consult the instructions for the lengths of the supply piping that leads to the water jet assembly.
12. Cut, clean, and flux these fittings, and then cut the shower riser to length and insert it into the assembly.
13. Check alignment and then solder the unit together (see Figure 3).
|Figure 3: Solder the water supply pipes to the valve body.|
14. Test the unit for leaks.
If this is a new installation, screw a 1/2-inch galvanized plug into the shower head pipe so you can test the unit for leaks without the shower sprinkling water all over the place.
15. If the tub or shower is already in place, install the shower head.
16. Turn on the water and check for leaks.
If there are leaks, turn off the water, drain the valve, and resolder or glue the leaking joint.
17. Install the escutcheon and control handles (see Figure 4).
|Figure 4:Installing the cutcheon plate and control handles.|
To purchase shower valves please view our shower valves section. Click here