Tub/shower plumbing question

buyorsell888March 28, 2010

We need a new tub faucet/spout whatever it is called. New single lever hot/cold thingy. New hand held shower head and would like to add a rain shower head from the ceiling as well.

DH thinks we are going to have to have two hot/cold lever thingys for two showerheads. I think there has to be a valve for this to be able to choose hand held only, rain head only and both together and that this would go above the hot/cold thingy so it would control both.

Which one of us is correct and what are the proper names?

Thank you.

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You won't have separate hot and cold "thingys" anymore; you'll have one valve which handles water volume and temperature. There are two types of values: pressure-balanced (cheaper) or thermostatically-balanced (more expensive). The valve is the unseen piece of hardware in the wall plumbing; the part you see, with the level for adjusting the water, is called a trim plate.

If you want to have two outputs -- a handheld showerhead and a rainshower head, there are additional options. You can get single trim plate which allows you to switch between two showerheads; or you can have a separate diverter valve to route the water to the desired showerhead. Some diverters give you a choice to send water to one or the other (A-B), while some give you the option to run either or both at the same time (A-B-AB).

A greater primer on all this was written by one of this forum's frequent expert contributors, mongoct, a few posts down in this thread.

-- Eric

P.S. That means you're right and DH is wrong. Have fun with that! ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: FAQ/Answers Bathroom Plumbing for dummies

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 10:46PM
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I'm still lost. DH went to a local plumbing store and they told him we had to have two hot/cold thingys. He is really mad at me for disagreeing.

We want a tub spout, hand held showerhead to be mounted on an arm (no bar) and a rain showerhead from the ceiling.

Can someone please spell out exactly what plumbing we need?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 4:41PM
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Either the description to the plumbing store is incomplete, or the plumbing store staff misunderstands the question. Either way, you don't need 2 hot/cold thingy.

There are a few ways you can do this, but we'll mention 2 common approaches.

You need 1 pressure-balancing valve (ie hot/cold thingy)
without tub diverter

You need 1 3-way transfer valve (also called 3-way diverter valve)

The pressure-balancing valve will get 1 hot input and 1 cold input from the supply lines. This valve will output directly to the 3-way diverter.

The 3-way diverter gets its input from the pressure-balancing valve output. Its 3 outputs will be connected to your rain shower, your handheld, and your tub out.

In this configuration, the PB valve mixes the hot and cold, and sends one output to the diverter valve. The diverter valve with 3 inputs A,B,C can usually let you choose between A, AB, B, BC, C, and CA, a total of 6 combinations.

You need one pressure-balancing valve with tub diverter
You need a 2-way transfer valve (2-way diverter)

If you can find a 2-way, that's great, if not, you can still use a 3-way here, and the plumber will know how to do loopbacks and capoffs. It's all in the installation manual as well.

In this configuration, the PB valve again gets its input from 1 hot supply and 1 cold supply. This PB valve with a tub diverter built-in can produce 2 outputs, one to the tub spout directly, and one to the diverter.

The diverter gets its input from the PB valve. It has 2 outputs, 1 to the handheld, and 1 to the rain shower.

Of course, you will need to buy all the trims and covers, arms, spout, heads, handles.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 5:24PM
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If you want the water to the two showerheads to come out at different temperatures at the same time, you'll need two thermostatic valves, otherwise one valve with the diverters will do.
Hansgrohe makes a thermostatic control valve that includes both the temperature and volume control in one thingy. Other manufacturers require one valve for the thermostatic control and another valve for the volume, which adds up to two thingys.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 9:07PM
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The water for the two showerheads can be the same temperature.

If it is going to cost five hundred bucks in extra plumbing to have two showerheads, then perhaps we won't have two showerheads.....

We just always wished for another one because we shower together sometimes and the person not standing right in front of the handheld gets cold.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:29PM
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No wonder there's confusion. We're talking about different applications. If you want 2 independent shower systems, of course you need 2 thingys.

With the new description, I would worry more about the size of your incoming lines. If you have 1/2 inch supplies and you want to split to support 2 systems, your water rate at the heads will drop when used simultaneously.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 12:40AM
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Here's the easiest, or should I write an easy solution, hopefully in words and terms that you can understand. And hopefully within your budget.

Symmons makes a very good pressure-balanced valve, the Temptrol line. They sell them at Home depot for around $90 give or take, depending on what comes with the valve.

They may sell the valve alone, I'm not certain. I've usually seen it packaged with a shower head and tub faucet. I'm not terribly familiar with big box plumbing.

If they don't sell the valve alone, you'll want a "basic valve kit" that comes with a pressure-balancing valve with a built-in tub/showerhead diverter lever, a faucet spigot, and a shower head. They make a few variations of this, but it's general designation is "96-2". Although it comes with a shower head, you can buy your own handheld hose and head to attach to the arm that comes out of the wall. Or if they do sell just the valve by itself, buy the valve, plus a tub spigot, plus a handheld outlet, a handheld hose, and a handheld head.

Yes, there are variables because you're asking for a slightly non-standard set-up.

Then you want a second Symmons Temptrol valve. If you can't buy just the valve, buy the 96-1 valve kit, which is the same valve as above but it just includes the shower head. No tub spigot. That will feed the rainshower head which you'll have to purchase on your own. Although the valve still has the diverter lever, when it's plumbed to just a shower head, in this case a rain head, the diverter lever will act as a volume control to the rainhead instead of a diverter to the tub.

You'll have a hot and cold water supply line coming into your shower. Split both lines with a copper "T" fitting so you have two hot water and two cold water lines, one to feed each Symmons valve.

The 96-2 valve will feed either your tub or the handheld. You choose which with the diverter lever built in to the valve. That's your typical bathtub/shower setup.

The separate 96-1 valve will just feed the rainshower head.

Two different controllers, but it keeps thing simple and affordable. Plus you now have the ability to select different temperatures for the two shower heads.

There are other ways to do this, but I'm trying to keep this simple and inexpensive for you.

Symmons does sell valve kits that have all the goodies you want, but they can get expensive, up in the $500-$800 range, but they don't allow the two shower heads to be used at the same time.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 12:04PM
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Mongo, thank you. DH listened to me read this and we looked at their website and now we understand each other.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 9:31PM
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He originally explained it to me that we would have to have to large sized hot/cold trim pieces (both identical) and I knew from looking at pictures that the second one would be smaller.

We like the Pasadena collection from Price Pfister which comes with tub spout with diverter, hot/cold trim and hand held showerhead with arm (metal hose)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 9:44PM
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Looked at Home Depot online, they don't sell the valves alone. We don't like any of the Symmons trim. Are the valves worth buying with trim and not using the trim? Can we use another brand of trim with the valves?

Home Depot does sell pressure balancing temperature control valves alone by Kohler and Moen.

DH is re-piping from galvanized to copper, lines are 3/4 inch to the bathroom now, just waiting for all these decisions to finish. Tankless water heater.

Here is a link that might be useful: would this work?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:09PM
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No the Moen won't work. It can't feed a tub spigot and it'll only feed one shower head at a time, not two.

Glad you got more specific and said you liked the Price Pfister. Going off of that:

Let's run with that Pasedena set that you said you liked. From your description it has pretty much the basics of what you need; a valve, a handheld and hose, and a tub spigot with diverter.

For argument's sake I'm going to use left/right/up/down in describing the valve ports on the main valve. They may be plumbed differently from what I write, I'm just trying to simplify the description okay?

So, install the pasedena valve in the wall. Hot and cold supply go into the left and right sides of the valve. Out the bottom of the valve is the copper line to the tub spigot. Out the top of the valve is the copper line to the handheld hose and head. Make sense so far? That's how it's normally plumbed, but you want to add a rainhead that you can select as needed.

To feed the additional rainhead you'll need a separate diverter valve and a rainhead. So where do we add the diverter?

The diverter will be installed along the run of copper that comes out the top of the main valve and goes to the handheld head. Pfister has a valve called a "Kenzo" valve that's a 3-way valve. They may have others as well, but that's one I know of. I don't know if it comes in the Pasedena trim line, but that's something you can figure out.

Anyway, the diverter valve gets plumbed between the main valve and the handheld outlet. The copper line coming out of the main valve and running up the handheld first goes into the Kenzo's "INLET" port. The Kenzo has two outlet ports. One goes to the handheld outlet, the other goes to the rainshower head.

So after it's all plumbed how does it work?

Turn on the main valve, set the temp, and water flows out of the tub spigot.

Close the tub spigot diverter and water will flow up to the diverter. If the diverter is turned completely in one direction, say clockwise, water will flow out of one showerhead, say the handheld. If the diverter is turned completely in the opposite direction, water will only flow out of the rainhead. Turn the diverter to the mid-point position and water will flow out of both showerheads.

The Kenzo is known as an A/B/AB diverter. Water can go out of one head, a second head, or both heads simultaneously. Not all diverters do that, some are just A or B.

Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:17AM
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YES, that helps! Thank you so much.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:44PM
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Is this the right diverter?

The Pasadena hand held shower/tub spout combo says it comes with the rough in valve and Single metal lever handle for volume and temperature control. So, all we would need is the rain showerhead and this diverter and trim for it right?

Here is a link that might be useful: diverter valve

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 8:13PM
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