2 Common Problems with Shower Valve Replacement
Replacing a shower valve is by no means an easy feat. It is a moderately complex job that can take a day (or more) to finish depending on how good your skills are and the number of stumbling blocks you can encounter. Yes, there will be problems that you will face when doing shower valve replacement that can discourage you from finishing the job. Let us take a look at the 2 most common problems you will encounter.
1. Lack of Access Panel
Considering the savings you can get from a do-it-yourself shower valve replacement project that can be from $100 to $200 at the least, it is understandable why some homeowners would venture to do it. After all, with a few affordable replacement parts, your shower valve should look as good as new and possibly even more efficient.
The whole procedure is quite simple, which requires you to connect the new valve to your old pipes and replace the cover plate with a new one. But, what happens when there is no access panel available? How will you reach the old pipes and connect your replacement valve? Suddenly, the complication grows.
Replacing the old shower valve would require you to work within the walls. If there is no removable panel or an access panel, what should you do? The easiest thing to do is to cut a hole in the shower surround. However, a better solution would be to have a paintable plastic panel installed just behind the faucet. You can find these at different home centers. You would need at least a 14-inch square sized panel.
What is the drawback to having a panel installed? It can be an eyesore. So what other option do you have? You can buy an oversized cover plate to replace your old one and use it to cover the shower surround access hole you cut out. The access hole should go right above the old one, making sure that the new cover plate completely hides everything.
Do you have a drywall? Make sure that you use a long bit drill rather than a screwdriver. Begin by cutting a smaller hole to see the exact position of the valves and pipes. From here, you can start to cut the full-sized hole that will give you the best access to complete the replacement. You can install an access panel after you have replaced the shower valve to avoid complicated problems in the future.
2. Galvanized Steel Pipes
What is the problem with galvanized steel pipes? Why will it complicate the replacement process? First off, galvanized steel pipes make use of a threaded connection that allows them to be screwed together. This makes it different from plastic or copper piping materials. Therefore, you cannot just cut through the supply lines when replacing an old shower valve. This would completely remove the threaded ends, leaving you with no reliable option to connect your new pipes.
How do you preserve the threaded ends? When working with galvanized steel pipes, you first have to unscrew the union fittings connecting the old supply lines. You do not have to remove the spout nipple since this can be discarded together with the old shower valve.
Check if the shower valve is connected to the showerhead. If so, you have to cut off the shower riser pipe. You can reconnect the pipe later using a special coupler. You can now connect the replacement shower valve and the shower riser. Make sure that the compression coupler you will use is designed for galvanized steel or what is known as a dresser coupling.
Make sure that you have a proper seal by using Teflon tape on the thread of the coupler as well as the rubber seals. Always check for leaks and never overtighten the coupler nuts to prevent damage.
These are the two most common problems you will encounter when replacing old shower valves. To make things simpler, you can just pick up the phone and call a licensed professional plumbing service to do the job right.