Damaged shower valves lead to leakages, increase your water bills and make shower time less enjoyable, hence the need for replacement. Other times you will want to change your valves when remodeling your bathroom. And this brings us to the question of the day, Are Shower Valves Interchangeable?
Shower valves look similar, but they are not interchangeable. You cannot mix valves from different manufacturers or even different types of valves of the same brand. However, you can install universal valves that give you the flexibility to remodel your bathroom without altering the plumbing system.
If you have decided to change the shower valves, you must understand the type of valves in your bathroom. Depending on why you need to change them, you can do it on your own or hire a plumber for a quick fix.
For a successful replacement, you must be sure of the valve manufacturer and the valve’s purpose. The guide below will help you identify the shower valves in your bathroom.
What Are The Different Types Of Shower Valves?
The first step to replacing or repairing shower valves is identifying the type of valves you have. Below are ways to tell the type of shower valves you have:
1. Identifying The Valve Using The Manufacturer
To identify the shower valves using the manufacturer, check for the manufacturer’s symbol or the name behind the faucet/handle. You will see K for Kohler, M for Moen, American Standard, Price Pfister, or Delta.
The manufacturer information is crucial for shower valve repair or replacement because the valves are not interchangeable.
2. Shower Mixing Valves
Shower mixing valves are the oldest types of shower valves. They are designed to mix cold and hot water taps before releasing them to the showerhead.
Buildings from back in the day use shower mixing valves but they are not effective in delivering water at a constant temperature because they cannot regulate changes in water pressure.
For example, the cold water pressure drops if someone opens another tap in the house or flushes the toilet bowl. In such instances, the showerhead releases very hot water, which might burn you.
To prevent such instances, set the hot water temperature at 120°F so that even if the cold water pressure drops, the hot water will not be too hot to burn you.
3. Thermostatic Valve
Thermostatic valves are more modern and contain a heat-sensitive material that expands and relaxes to control the flow of water until it is of the right temperature.
Once you set the preferred water temperature, you will always get it from the showerhead irrespective of the changes in water pressure.
Considering its features and effectiveness, thermostatic valves are more expensive than shower mixing valves.
4. Shower Transfer Valve
Shower transfer valves are designed to control water flow to different outlets, like the showerhead and the bathtub, at the same time. This valve makes it possible to use both the bathtub and the showerhead at the same time.
5. Pressure Balancing Valves
Pressure balancing valves are the most common type of shower valves. They maintain a constant flow of the water at the same temperature by balancing the cold and hot water ratio coming in.
They are the most effective and use a series of pistons to balance water pressure from the sources. By turning a single knot to the right or left, the water temperature changes.
6. Shower Diverter Valves
As the name suggests, the shower diverter valve diverts water flow from the bathtub faucet to the showerhead. This valve makes it possible for the bathtub and shower to be in the exact location.
How Do You Replace A Broken Shower Valve?
After identifying the type of shower valve you have, replacing or repairing it becomes easy. If the shower faucet is leaking, for example, you can fix the valve on your own to avoid the mess, water damage or the growth of mold in your bathroom.
Below are simple steps on how to replace a faulty shower valve on your own:
1. Block the shower drain– use a piece of cloth to cover the drain; this way, the screws will fall on the cloth and hence not get lost.
2. Turn off the water supply– cut off the primary source of water supply in the house to prevent more leakage.
3. Remove the shower handle– use a screwdriver to remove the handle so that you can access the shower valve. Note the steps you used to remove the handle and keep all the parts safe because you will need them to fix it back.
4. Unscrew the trim plate– loosen both sides of the trim plate and remove them. Soak the handle and the trim plate in a vinegar solution to clean them.
5. Remove the valve– after removing the trim plate, use pliers to pull out the old valve from the wall.
6. Install the new valve– hold the metal end of the new cartridge using pliers and fix it in the hole where you removed the old valve. It should fit perfectly unless you bought the wrong match. Ensure that it fits perfectly
7. Connect water pipe– you can use the old pipes or new ones depending on their condition. Also, handle the valve cartridges with care because they are heat sensitive.
8. Turn on water supply– after fixing all the pipes, turn on the water supply and test for leakages. Also, the water clears the pipes of residues from soldering.
9. Fix the trim plate and the handle back– place the trim plate back into the hole and apply caulk on the sides. Put back the handle in position and screw it back. Remember to remove the cloth on the drain.
Replacing a shower valve is not a difficult task, but you must have the skills and patience. If you cannot do it on your own, contact a reputable plumber from your area for a quick fix.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Are Shower Valves Universal?
No, shower valves are not universal, and you cannot mix trim plates and shower valves from different manufacturers. Therefore, before buying a replacement valve, ensure it is the exact size and from the same manufacturer as the one you are getting rid of.
2. Are Delta Shower Valves Interchangeable?
Delta shower valves are universal. Therefore, you can remove the trim kit and replace it as long as you stick to the Delta brand. However, Delta valves and trims are not compatible with other manufacturers.
3. Are American standard shower valves interchangeable?
American standard shower valves are not interchangeable. If you want to replace your current with a shower valve from another manufacturer, or another type of American standard, you will have to open up the shower wall to change it.
4. Are Moen shower valves interchangeable?
The trim plates and shower valves of Moen shower valves are not interchangeable. Therefore, if your shower valve is damaged, or you decide to upgrade your bathroom, take note of the part number of the old shower valve. You can get the part number online from the manufacturer’s website or the user manual.
5. Is there a difference in shower valves?
Yes, shower valves are different in terms of the manufacturer and how they function. For instance, thermostatic shower valves control the temperature of the water, while pressure balance valves control the ratio of hot water to cold water.
6. How do I know what kind of shower valve I have?
To identify the shower valve manufacturer, check behind the handle for the manufacturer’s brand name or symbol. If you see K: the manufacturer is Kohler, M: Moen, American standard, among others.
7. How do I know if I need a new shower valve?
Leakage from the faucet is the number one indicator that there is an issue with your shower valve. The water drips all day lead to water wastage which increases your water bills. Also, the leaks behind the wall will result in mold growth.
8. How much does it cost to replace a shower valve?
The cost of shower valve replacement includes cost of removing the broken valve, the cost of buying a new valve, the price of other valves, and labor costs. The actual cost varies with the valve brand you are using and how much you pay the plumber.
9. How long should a shower valve last?
If your shower valve is installed correctly, it should serve effectively for about four to five years, even if you use salty water. The limescale buildup is known to damage electrical appliances, but quality shower valves will withstand it.
10. Can you change shower fixtures without changing the valve?
Yes, you can change the handle without changing the valve. Find out the brand of the valve and get a replacement handle from the nearest plumber store or online from the manufacturer’s website.
In Conclusion, So, Are Shower Valves Interchangeable?
Shower valves are not interchangeable, meaning that you cannot mix valves and trim kits from different manufacturers. What’s more, the brands make shower valves of various sizes, which are not universal or interchangeable. The shower valve is sold as a set, and you must get the same size and brand for repairs or replacement.