How to Replace a Leaking Two-Handle Shower Valve

How often do you take a shower? If you are like most homeowners, then you would agree that your shower can take quite a beating as one of the most frequently used plumbing fixtures in your home. This means that you can experience the common problem of a leaking shower valve. Are you ready to replace your leaking two-handle shower valve? Check out how.

What You Need

One of the things that you will need to replace that old, leaky two-handle shower valve is obviously a new special cover plate. Make sure to choose the scald-proof ones that have a single-handle for more efficiency. It is worth mentioning that this replacement project can be quite challenging, but would not necessarily require you to tear out tiles of breakdown bathroom walls (hopefully).

Before you start with the replacement project, make sure that you have the following tools and materials ready:

  • Jigsaw;
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver;
  • Soldering torch;
  • Slip-joint pliers;
  • Conversion plate;
  • New shower valve; and
  • Pipe fittings.

Replacement Procedure

Replacing the old shower valve with a new one without ruining your bathroom tiles would require you extra care on your part. It is important to point out that this procedure should be done immediately to ensure that the leak does not turn into something more destructive or costly. The best way to do the replacement and limit the cost would be to use a conversion plate that would allow you to shift from a two-handle valve to a single-handle one.

The conversion plate will also ensure that there will be no cosmetic defects after the replacement. This is because it will cover the old valve holes. All you will need to do is to cut a hole through the bathroom tile. Make sure that the cover plate you buy will fit your new faucet and will be wide enough to ensure that the old valve position is amply covered.

Conversion plates can be bought for less than $20 from your local hardware or you can also search online. Make sure that you also replace any loose tiles, rusted pipes, and other potential plumbing problems you will encounter during the replacement procedure. This can save you about $200 in plumbing fees, not to mention the unnecessary rise in your water bills.


Now that you have all the tools and materials ready, you can start with the actual work of replacing that old leaking shower valve. Follow these steps:

  1. Begin by unscrewing the handles of the old shower valve.
  2. Make sure to mark on the tile the cover hole and use the abrasive blade in a jigsaw to cut it out.
  3. You have to cut the old pipes as well as remove the old valve.
  4. Solder the new valve along with the replacement conversion plate directly over the hole.

This should finish off the replacement of your old, leaking two-handle shower valve with a single-handle valve with anti-scald and temperature balancing features.

Common Shower Valve Replacement Issue

Take note that when doing shower valve replacement, there are some issues that can complicate the above mentioned procedures. This means that instead of an inexpensive replacement project that can cost your anywhere from $20 to $100, it can easily skyrocket to $300 or more.

Despite being a fairly straightforward process, you may encounter the problem of not having access to the inside of the wall. This can happen depending on the actual layout and design of your shower and bathroom. What happens? You would obviously need to create access, which may mean tearing down walls or removing tiles.

Another complexity that can be thrown your way is if the old pipes used for your shower are made from galvanized steel. This means that you cannot just cut through the pipes because it will be affecting the threaded portion of the steel pipes, leaving you no way to reconnect the new pipes.

With all these in mind, you can now make a sound judgement whether you would like to replace your old, leaking shower valve yourself or leave it to the more experienced hands of licensed professional plumbers.