If you’re remodeling your bathroom, you’ve probably put a lot of time and effort into making sure your updated bathroom will have the right feel to it. You want your newly redesigned bathroom to be the perfect place for you — down to the color of the tiles on the shower wall. You’ve probably selected a shower head that features multiple settings, so you’ll always have the exact type of experience you want, depending on the circumstances. The bottom line is that you want your updated bathroom — and shower — to be flawless. Yet imagine if you go through all the trouble of remodeling your bathroom to look exactly how you want, only to find that the shower doesn’t work as well as it should.
It takes more than fresh grout or marble tiles to ensure the perfect shower experience. If your shower isn’t working at its best behind the scenes (i.e., plumbing), no amount of fancy tile or color combinations will overcome it. That’s why, when remodeling your bathroom, you need to consider whether or not it’s time to replace your shower and tub valves to guarantee everything about your shower will be working to the best of its abilities. Even if your shower seems to be working fine, your shower and tub valves might be costing you performance that could enhance your morning routine and make every shower more enjoyable.
What’s more, underperforming shower and tub valves could be costing you extra money each month by not performing as efficiently as they could. They also could be slowly damaging your home and creating the conditions for dangerous mold growth. In any event, remodeling your bathroom is a golden opportunity for checking your shower valves and considering replacing them. If you want your updated bathroom to be perfect, it’s worth considering what’s behind the wall as much as what’s going on the wall.
Why You Should Consider Checking Your Shower Valves
Remodeling your bathroom may include pulling down the walls inside your shower, which makes it a good time to look at your shower and tub valves. The valves will typically be in the general area of where the knobs that turn on the water are on the shower wall. The first issue to look for is if there are any leaks in the valve when you turn on the water. If there are drips, that’s a good indication that you should think about replacing the valve. Because, not only are you wasting water, but water that leaks behind the wall can cause rot as well as mold and mildew growth.
Slow reaction time when changing water temperature is another red flag of which to be aware when considering whether or not to replace your shower valves. If a sudden change in water pressure elsewhere in the house (such as when a toilet flushes or the washing machine starts) causes a drastic change in the water temperature in your shower, the valve may not be functioning properly.
Options for a New Shower Valve
If you’ve determined that it’s time for a change to your shower and tub valves, there are a few options for a new setup. The two main types of shower valves are pressure-balancing and thermostatic. Pressure-balancing valves are the most common types of shower valves. They work to maintain a constant temperature in the shower by balancing the ratio of hot water to cold water. Inside this type of valve, a piston or diaphragm reacts to pressure changes inside the hot and cold water pipes — adjusting the flow accordingly so you’re not scalded or chilled when the pressure suddenly drops in the opposite water pipe.
Thermostatic valves are less common. However, they offer a greater degree of control over the temperature of your shower than the pressure-balancing variety. These valves allow you to set the water temperature without having to balance the hot and cold water manually. Thermostatic valves typically contain a heat-sensitive material such as wax that expands and restricts the flow of hot water until it cools enough to let more hot water through again. This can ensure that the water never gets too hot or cold.
An optional type of valve you may want in your shower or tub is a diverter or transfer valve. These valves change the flow of water to different fixtures — such as from the tub faucet to the shower head or from the fixed shower head to a hand-held shower head. Depending on how you want your remodeled shower to function, you may need to install a diverter or transfer valve.
How often should shower valves be replaced?
A properly installed shower valve should serve you well for a long time. Even if you live in an area with hard water that causes limescale build-up in your appliances, you can expect to have a shower valve work well for about four or five years.