Types of Shower Valves and How To Tell Which Shower Valve You Are Using

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The shower valve is an important part of your bathroom and your bathing experience. The main job of the shower valve is to regulate the water pressure and temperature to make sure your shower is enjoyable. Here are different types of shower valves.

Your shower valve matters because it controls how hot or cold the water gets when someone else uses the sink or flushes the toilet in another part of the house. That can be potentially quite dangerous. To counteract this, you will need to have a good shower valve and avoid those temperature surges.

What Is A Shower Valve And How Does It Work?

Delta Faucet Foundations Shower Valve Trim Kit, Shower Handle, Delta Shower Trim Kit, Chrome BT13010 (Valve Not Included)

The shower valve essentially has two functions. The first is to adjust or regulate the water temperature, and the other is to control the water pressure. These valves generally have between one to three ports. The water is essentially directed through these ports when you rotate the handle.

You may have one valve that controls both the water pressure and temperature, depending on your shower setup, or you might have more than one valve giving you more control over the temperature and pressure. 

For instance, a single-valve setup will allow you to turn the water on and off and control the temperature with a single handle. You can have two or more handles that let you regulate hot and cold water and water pressure independently, in which case you probably have at least a two-valve setup controlling your shower. Triple outlet valves usually have a knob for hot, a knob for cold, and then another knob that controls the water pressure.

Shower Valve Manufacturers To Consider

  • Kohler
  • Moen
  • Delta

Kohler

Kohler PITCH R/T SEQUENTIAL VALVE TRIM

Kohler is a company that makes high-quality brass valves that are extremely durable and will last the test of time. Consequently, they are more expensive. However, they are worth the investment in the long run.

Moen

Moen Genta LX Matte Black Posi-Temp Pressure-Balancing Modern Valve Trim, Valve Required, T2471BL

Moen is most popular for its digital shower panels and thermostatic valves. They are made with high-quality materials that make them durable. They are more affordable than Kohler, making them an attractive substitute.

Delta

Delta Faucet Foundations Shower Valve Trim Kit, Shower Handle, Delta Shower Trim Kit, Chrome BT13010 (Valve Not Included)

Delta is a shower valve manufacturer that is known for its multichoice universal shower valve. This valve is compatible with a wide selection of Delta trims and cartridges. It is also more affordable and easier to install than other brands.

Types Of Shower Valves

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There are several shower valves available: pressure balancing shower valve, mixing valve, shower transfer valve, thermostatic shower valve, diverter shower valve, and digital shower valve. It can get confusing which one is right for you, so make sure to read this section, and we will try to clear it up.

Pressure Balancing Shower Valve

sumerain Pressure Balance Shower and Tub Faucet Set Brushed Gold with Tub Spout, 8

A pressure balancing valve, also known as an anti-scald valve, is one of the most common valves. This valve automatically regulates the temperature while keeping the water pressure constant.

Water passes through the pistons or diaphragms, allowing the valve to detect any changes in the water flow, preventing the water from getting too hot or cold. This way, you’ll always have a shower that is relatively the same temperature, within 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most pressure-balancing valves have one control and a handle which you turn left or right to change the water temperature.

If your home was built before a certain year, it might not be able to use a pressure-balancing valve because the plumbing may not be strong enough so it will most likely have a shower mixing valve.

Shower Mixing Valve

The valve mixes the water from the cold and hot water taps, which are directed to the shower head. It used to be popular. However, new buildings no longer permit these types of valves because they can cause scalding.

This is especially true when someone turns a faucet on or uses the toilet in another part of the house, causing the water pressure to change suddenly, thus changing the ratio of hot to cold water.

You can avoid this from happening in a home with a mixing valve by lowering the water heater thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you have a mixing valve, an anti-scald pressure-balancing valve or even a thermostatic valve would be a worthwhile upgrade. However, make sure your plumbing can handle the update.

Shower Diverter Valve

Diverter valves allow water to be sent to the shower from the bathtub. Allowing you to have a shower in the bathtub. There are three types of diverter valves.

1. Tee Diverter

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You can divert the water from the bathtub faucet to the showerhead by using a pull arm. This is done by blocking the flow to the bathtub faucet when the temperature is just right.

2. 2-Valve Diverter

A two-valve diverter uses a rotating handle to control the temperature of the water. A second knob will control whether the water comes out of the tub or the shower.

3. 3-valve diverter

There are three knobs on a 3-valve diverter. You use two knobs to control the temperature of the water. The third knob is for switching between the tub, shower, and other sprays.

Thermostatic Valve

Thermostatic valves are also known as TS valves. TS valves essentially have two valves and two handles to control the pressure and temperature. This way, you can control the temperature and pressure of the water independently.

TS valves use a wax insert, or another thermosensitive element, to sense and control the water temperature. The desired heat threshold will cause the water supply to be restricted.

Thermostatic valves are popular shower valves, but they can be more expensive than pressure-balancing valves.

1. Twin Thermostatic Shower Valve

A single-control shower function usually means either an overhead shower or a small slider rail kit. The temperature is controlled by one handle, while the other handle controls the water flow.

2. Twin Thermostatic Shower Valve With Diverter

The diverter on this showerhead enables you to switch between two different shower functions. The temperature is controlled by one handle, while the other handle is the diverter.

3. Triple Thermostatic Shower Valve

This valve can manage two showers with two different functions, like an overhead shower and a small slider rail kit. The beauty is you can use them both simultaneously.

One handle controls the temperature, and the other two handles control the water flow in each function.

4. Triple Thermostatic Shower Valve With Diverter

Showering can be a luxurious experience with the right equipment. This set includes three shower functions: an overhead shower, a small slider rail kit, and body jets. The temperature is controlled by one handle.

The flow of water between the functions is controlled by a diverter handle. The body jets can be turned on or off with the third handle.

5. Shower Transfer Valve

These are the most sophisticated valves and are perfect if you have a twin shower or enjoy having your main overhead shower on while using the handheld shower. They typically will control 2 outlets; however, the later versions can control four outlets.

6. Exposed or Concealed Valves

Exposed valves in a bathroom are more about design and art. The advantage is of course that no walls need to be ripped apart for installation, and access is very easy if there ever is an issue.

Concealed valves are the norm in most homes. These valves are installed behind the wall allowing a clean-looking bathroom and are best for small bathrooms.

Traditional Hot & Cold Shower Valves

The traditional hot and cold shower valve is the most common type, found in many homes and hotels. As the name suggests, this model features a simple and straightforward system, with two separate controls to adjust the temperature and flow of water.

Offering a straightforward but reliable shower experience, this faucet operates like any classic two-handle fixture – one for hot and the other for cold. It’s an ideal selection if you don’t need extra features or prefer to immerse yourself in more familiar surroundings.

Volume Control Valve

With the help of a volume control valve, you can turn your shower on and off with ease while also controlling the amount of water that flows from this outlet. Unlike other forms of shower valves, this one is exclusively compatible with thermostatic valves for maximum precision, allowing you to select an exact stream rate (for example, 1/2 inch per minute).

This makes it a great option for those who want to save water or for homes with young children who may be easily startled by the sound of the shower.

Concealed vs. Exposed Valves

When choosing a shower valve, you may also want to consider whether you prefer a concealed or exposed option. A concealed shower valve is typically installed inside a wall, while an exposed model is typically used in homes where renovations or bathroom remodeling are being done.

A concealed shower valve is typically the more modern and sleek option, as it does not require any additional hardware or visible plumbing. However, an exposed valve can be a good choice if you want to maintain the traditional look of your bathroom. Also, by utilizing this, it becomes much simpler to repair or replace valves and cartridges.

Ultimately, both types are functional and provide similar benefits, so the choice will depend on your individual preferences and needs.

How To Tell Which Shower Valve You Are Using

When it’s time to repair or replace your shower system then, you will need to pinpoint the type of valve and faucet that you have installed. Below are some pointers on how to tell which valve you have, but if you are still not sure, then speak with a local plumber.

1. How Many Shower Faucet Handles Are There?

Typically the shower faucet and handle will reveal which shower valve you currently have installed.

No handles mean a shower panel faucet that comes with buttons that control the water pressure and the temperature.

Single-handle faucets are the most common and use the pressure-balancing valve to control the water pressure and the temperature.

A dual shower handle indicates that you have a thermostatic valve.

Three-knob faucets are not very common at all. They have one knob for the temperature. one knob for the water flow, and the last knob that will divert the water to the shower or the faucets, as the name suggests, this setup uses a diverter valve.

2. How Is The Shower Connected?

When a hose is attached from the showerhead to the shower pipe, this is called a handset showerhead. If the showerhead is connected directly to the shower pipe from the wall, it is known as a fixed or mounted showerhead. Handheld showerheads are more flexible to use, while fixed showerheads are a bit more restricted as they are fixed to the wall.

3. What’s the Brand?

Most shower brands have their names either etched or stickers stuck on. A “K” means Kohler, an “M” means it’s a Moen and the other brands tend to have their entire names displayed.

Most of these brands will have specific connections of the faucet to the valve, so make sure not to mix and match the brands.

What Else To Consider When Replacing A Shower Valve

Number Of Valve Ports

Do you want a tub/shower combo or a walk-in shower? There are two types of valves for showers: a 3-port and a 4-port. A three-port valve will have one port for hot, one port for cold, and one port for the shower head. A four-port valve will have an extra port that goes down to the tub faucet.

Keep in mind that if you only need three ports, you can always cap off the fourth port on a four-port valve. But if you only have a three-port valve, you can’t create a fourth port. This is why it’s important to know what you need before you buy a shower valve.

Valve Material

Generally speaking, these valves are made by reputable companies and will last you years. One of the best materials is brass, as it does not rust. After that, copper is your best option. These valves will be hidden away and, in most cases, behind a wall, so be sure to buy the best.

Service Stop

If you live in an apartment building or a condo, then this is a good idea. This will allow you to shut off your water independently in case of any repairs. It may cost extra, but having the ability to shut off your water could mean that issue gets resolved in 2-3 hours as opposed to 2-3 days and having to wait to get permission to shut the water off for the whole building.

The Different Connections For Shower Valves

If your bathroom requires new piping, then there are essentially 3 different types of connections.

IPS

IPS stands for Iron Pipe Straight. This is a threaded connection on the valve that you use to first attach an adapter. The copper pipe can then be attached to the adapter and soldered in place.

CC

This is a Copper Connection (CC). Using this connection will require your plumber to solder the copper pipe directly into the valve.

PEX

PEX is made from plastic and is flexible, resistant to corrosion, and easy to install as there is no soldering involved, unlike copper. Due to these factors, PEX is becoming more popular in new constructions.

Conclusion

Remodeling your bathroom is a big deal, and there is a lot involved. We hope that we were able to shed a little light on some of the factors involved in choosing the right type of shower valve. If you are not sure about anything, then it is probably best to get in touch with a local plumber.

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