Type of Shower Valve

leahgillumJanuary 29, 2008

We're purchasing fixtures for a bath remodel. I'm good with the sink and bath, but need some assistance on what type of shower valve to purchase. Right now, we have a single handle Moen fixture in the shower. We're replacing our Moen fixtures with Price Pfister Contempra fixtures. I'm 99% certain we'll have to replace the shower valve, but what type do I need? A pressure balancing valve or a mixing valve or both? A plumber will install, but I need to purchase them soon. Thanks!

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A lot of people, including myself, are choosing to get a thermostatic balance valve. That is one with two knobs/levers, one for temperature and one for volume. You can get them with or without "stops" - which I think means that you don't need a separate water shutoff for the shower, and you can get them with or without "scald guard".

Before researching I had no idea that you generally buy the valve and the trim separately, though some places do package them together. They are separate because there will be many trim options for each valve a company makes.

I just bought the American Standard T050.541 Double Handle Thermostatic Valve Trim and the needed AS R540 3/4 inch rough in valve which is a thermostatic balance valve with scald guard.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 6:07PM
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I prefer brands, such as Moen that have a single lever temperature and volume control (Moen's moentrol valves). I made the mistake in my one bathroom of using seperate handles, and I do not like that set up at all. Home Depot packages everything (valve and trim) in one box, but if you something "other" than the standard HD offering, you will find you need to buy the valve and trim seperately "on-line" or in a plumbing supply store. Also, HD complete package boxes will most likely have threaded connections at the valve so you need to get fittings. Not a big deal, but I prefer 1/2 sweated fittings to avoid a threaded fittings behind the wall. Again, personal preference.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 7:27PM
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To me the biggest downside of one lever is that you can't have a low volume of water unless you have the water on cold (and maybe also on hot, but I've never tried this). I really discovered what a PITA this is when I tried to give my (at the time) 14 month old grandson a bath at my in-laws. My grandson likes gently running water the whole time - a shower in a bath tub. The in-laws tub had a single level and so when I got the temperature to a nice lightly warm temp the volume was on fully, way too hard for my grandson.

We've only ever had separate knobs for hot and cold here, both in the tub in the kids room (where we bathe our grandson) and in the shower in our room. My husband likes a gentle water pressure in the shower and I like it really strong. If we got a single lever faucet in the shower when we remodel he would want to have a water restrictor in the shower head to slow down the water, and I'd just as soon go dirty, stinky, and disgusting as to take a shower with low pressure - well that last part is an exaggeration, but you get the point. Quite frankly if the only choice I had was the current, separate hot and cold knobs, and the single lever faucet, I'd stick with the separate knobs.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 8:47PM
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You may have misinterpreted the above post by Tom...The Moentrol mentioned above has a single lever, but it works in TWO ways....volume and temp control. The handle pulls in/out for volume, and turns right/left for temperature. This is a great system, and beats seperate controls. You can control everything with one lever. And it fine tunes volume much better than seperate knobs. Very accurate.

The lower end single levers have just right/left for temperature and only one volume control (full on all the time).

    Bookmark   January 29, 2008 at 9:41PM
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Pete, thanks for the additional post; now that you point it out, I DID notice some single lever controls that controled both volume and temperature but I had forgotten about that and was remembering the faucet at my in-laws and in hotel rooms I'd stayed.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 6:31AM
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Stops in the valve means that you can shut the water off at the valve to service it instead of having to shut off the entire house. Now, if you are opening up the wall, you have lots of options. What's the most important thing to remember is each manufacturer has a specific valve to go with their trims. There is no mixing and matching. These are the basic types of valves... Pressure balanced (which is what I think you have now) Thermostatically controlled with volume controls built in or separate. So if you want to do some fancy things like a his and hers or body sprays, that would be the way to go. What's nice about a thermo valve is that you can control the flow of the water from a trickle to full blast AND within a few seconds of turning the shower on, the water is at the temp that you set it on. No more having to wait and manually set the water temp. Most manufacturers carry both of these styles. I recommend that you visit a decorative plumbing showroom in your area. Most of them carry a variety of manufacturers to suit any budget needs. Carleen

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 7:07PM
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