There are different types of shower valves with different features, but they all serve the same purpose. Shower valves control water pressure and regulate the temperatures of water flowing from the shower. So, how long do shower valves last?
Properly installed and well-maintained shower valves can last up to 20 years because they do not have moving parts. The lifespan of your shower valves depends on the frequency of use, type of shower, the kind of water you are using, and if the valve is brass or has a cartridge.
If you live in an area with very hard water, limescale buildup in the shower valves reduces its lifespan. In this case, expect it to work correctly for about five years.
If the shower valve is damaged or the cartridge is worn out, the water pressure from the showerhead will reduce, and water will start leaking from the faucet, which calls for replacement.
Why Do Shower Valves Go Bad?
Shower valves are designed to last for a long time. To achieve this, they are manufactured without moving parts. However, just like any other appliance, some valves do not last the 20 years intended without going bad.
Some of the reasons why shower valves go bad include:
- Wear and tear from daily use
- The metal parts are impaired by the constant exposure to water and chemicals in hard water.
- Water leakages that result in short-circuiting
- The cartridge or flapper that regulates water temperature gets worn out from constant use.
- Dirt and debris that block the pathways inside the shower valve
- Human negligence during installation
Signs Of Faulty Shower Valves
Damaged or worn shower valves do not function as they should, and you will notice the issues as they arise. Some of the significant signs that your shower valve is faulty include:
- Leakages and drips from the showerhead even when you are done showering.
- Loss of water pressure such that there is little or no water coming out from the showerhead when you turn it on.
- When the water takes too long to reach the temperatures, you want.
- Growth of mold, or if the water supply pipe or the showerhead are getting rusted. Mold and rust in the showerhead result in a bad smell.
- If the shower valves feel loose and wobbly
If you are experiencing any of the above or other issues with the shower valve, the only solution is to have it replaced. Ensure to contact a plumber immediately before the problems get out of hand.
5 Types Of Shower Valves
Shower valves give a better shower experience by controlling the water pressure and regulating temperatures. They are designed with one to three outlets.
Single outlet shower valves regulate the water pressure and temperature through a 180-degree knob. Those with two outlets have separate hot and cold water knobs. Lastly, triple outlet shower valves have different cold water, hot water, and water pressure knobs.
What’s more, shower valves can be exposed or concealed, depending on your preference. For concealed valves, only the knob is exposed. On the other hand, for exposed showers, the whole system is installed above the showerhead. Homeowners prefer concealed installation.
As discussed below, shower valves fall under two main categories; temperature regulating valves and diverters and transfer valves.
Temperature Regulating Shower Valves
As the name suggests, temperature regulating valves ensure that the water spewing from the showerhead is of the right temperature. They include:
1. Pressure Balancing Valves
Pressure balancing valves, also known as anti-scald valves, ensure that the water temperature remains the same even with a change in water pressure.
It is important to point out that the source of water coming to the showerhead is the same as the water sink and the toilet flush water.
For that reason, the water pressure coming to the showerhead tends to reduce if the sink water is flowing or someone flushes the toilet, which tends to change the water temperature.
Pressure balancing valves like Moen 2510 Brass Posi-Temp (View on Amazon) ensure that the water pressure keeps at the chosen temperature.
2. Thermostatic Valves
Thermostatic valves balance both temperature and water pressure instantly. With this type of shower valve, you do not have to wait for the water to warm up when you get in the shower. On the twist of the valve, hot water flows.
Because of this function, thermostatic shower valves are expensive than other types of shower valves.
3. Mixing Valve
Mixing valves have been used in the bathroom way before thermostatic and pressure valves. This type of shower valve features separate cold and hot water valves. To get the desired water temperature, you have to adjust both valves.
Mixing valves were the best in the market for a long time, but they are no longer popular because a change in water pressure, which happens when someone flushes the toilet or opens the sink tap, could cause scalding.
Modern-day valves in points one and two above are designed to solve the pressure and temperature issue of mixing valves.
Diverters And Transfer Valves
Transfer and diverter valves are the latest inventions, and each comes with unique features. You are most likely to find these two in modern houses.
4. Diverter Shower Valves
Diverter shower valves divert water from the tub faucet to the showerhead. The water pipe that supplies water to the showerhead and the tub is the same. Therefore, when you open the diverter valve, water flows into the tub.
However, if you want to use the shower instead, there is a level to lift that redirects water to the showerhead.
Diverter valves come in three types including:
- Tee valves are a single valve located at the tab faucet and are used to divert the water and regulate the temperature. They are mostly used in budget hotels.
- Two valve diverter- this type features two knobs. One knob adjusts water temperature, and the other one diverts water between the tub and the showerhead.
- Three valve diverter features three rotating knobs, the hot water knob, the cold water knob, and a diverter knob at the center.
5. Transfer Valves
Transfer valves direct water from different outlets at a go. This means that you can have water flowing from the handheld head and the showerhead simultaneously. Most transfer valves operate two outlets simultaneously, but some latest models allow for up to four outlets.
What’s more, transfer valves like Moen 3360 M-Dura (View on Amazon) features digital controls to save you time and energy to adjust and regulate water temperatures. All you have to do is set your preferred water pressure and temperature.
How To Choose The Right Shower Valve
Now that you understand the different types of shower valves in the market, which is right for you? To make the right purchase, below are essential things to consider:
As discussed above, there are different types of shower valves with different operations. The best type for you is one that suits your needs. For instance, if you have a tub and a showerhead in your bathroom, diverter shower valves will be the best choice for you.
Shower valves are made from different materials, including durable plastic, brass, or soldered metal. Valves made from brass are the most recommended because they do not rust, are leakproof, and last longer.
If you want to install the shower valve on your own, it is essential to go for a model that is easy to install. In many cases, easy to install shower valves have one outlet. However, they are not recommended because they are essential and limiting.
For the best service, invest in a two or three outlet shower valve for versatility. If you find it hard to install, you can always hire a plumber.
4. Handle Options
A shower valve kit contains a handle. Handles act as an accessory and determine the ease and comfort of handling the faucet. Therefore, ensure that the handle is sleek and matches your bathroom décor.
Just like any other purchase, watch out for good bargains. Ensure that you get quality for the amount you pay. Also, factor in the renovation cost and go for brands with warranties.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why Does Thermostatic Shower Valve Fail?
Thermostatic shower valves mainly fail after developing issues with the cartridge, which is mainly damaged by the constant water pressure in balance. Also, debris and limescale buildup easily damage the delicate cartridge.
2. How Long Should A Shower Mixing Valve Last?
Shower mixing valves and especially those made with brass, last for a very long time unless it gets damaged along the way. With proper maintenance, some take the lifespan of the shower system. However, if you use hard water, you will have to replace the cartridge after around five years, which is a long time as well.
3. When Should You Replace A Shower Valve?
Shower valves should be replaced If you experience the following:
- Leakages from the faucet or showerhead
- Loss of water pressure
- Water temperature changes
- Difficulties turning the handle or switching in the shower
4. Do Shower Valves Wear Out?
Yes, all shower valves wear out from daily usage; for example, the seals fail and start to leak, and the ball bearing wears out, slowing down the reaction speed to water pressure. If any of these happens, it is time to replace the shower valve.
In Conclusion, How Long Do Shower Valves Last?
The average lifespan of a properly installed and well-maintained shower valve is 20-30 years. However, the valves get damaged from wear and tear, limescale and debris buildup, and short circuits resulting from water leakage.
If any of these happens, there is no need to worry; contact a plumber or replace the shower valve immediately and continue enjoying your shower time.