Shower plumbing without recessed panels - risky? Acceptable?

alina_1April 28, 2014

I am working on the design for our master bath renovation. I planned to install a shower in the corner against two external walls. To not compromise insulation, I planned to build a raised rectangular column to hide all plumbing for shower head, handheld shower, valve, etc. I planned to tile this column.

Now, my husband says that since there will not be recessed panel for plumbing with such layout, I have to change the design. Honestly, it ruins all my plans - the only change I can make is switching shower with whirlpool tub so the tub is in that corner. This will not resolve the problem - I wanted to use the tub as a shower/tub combo and it will also require similar plumbing.

Any thoughts? Is it really risky to install the plumbing/pipes without access panels? What is the common practice - to make plumbing accessible no matter what?

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Why not make the tiled column removable? It's not that tough.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 11:33AM
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You mean the entire column? Not sure how to do this and still keep the waterproofing reliable... To caulk the seams?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 11:43AM
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It's rare that all the plumbing is accessible through a panel - just the parts behind the valve usually are. Can you put in a removable panel as part of the column (side?).

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 11:55AM
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The sides of the column will be just about 4"-5", so not very suitable for repairs..
You guys gave me a new idea - what if I make the front surface of the column removable? I can install those magnetic catches that are used for whirlpool motor access panels and then caulk the seams with the sides of the column.

Do you think it would work?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 12:18PM
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Another thought might be - repairing leaky faucets can be done from the room side. Make sure you buy quality, readily available faucets so repair parts will be available and nothing inside the wall will have to be replaced until the next remodel. When the tile guy comes over to estimate the job, tell him that when the job is done, you want enough new tile leftover to redo the plumbing column area - two times over. Put the boxes of tile in the attic or corner of the basement storage room and forget them.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 1:49PM
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Thanks DreamingoftheUP,

The tile guy would probably be me :)

The faucets I chose are from Delta Vero line - lifetime warranty, so despite plastic parts in the valve, I do not worry about repairing them. As you said, they can be repaired from the room side. The worst fear is the pipes - what if something will go wrong? We are going to try Kerdi shower system. My vivid imagination draws a terrible picture of the entire shower being destroyed to reach that pipe ;)

Well, anyway, keeping some extra tiles is a great idea for this project I guess.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 2:32PM
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The worst fear is the pipes

It can happen. And if it does, it sucks. But really, how many bathrooms (or other parts of the house/building) have you ever seen that allow easy access to ALL the pipes? Every wall would have have a removable panel!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 2:40PM
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Thanks for your ideas and thoughts! As always, it is so helpful :)

I feel better now. I have at least two acceptable solutions for this - a removable front panel on my column and some extra tiles to repair the column if there is a problem with pipes.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 3:43PM
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I don't think there is any reason to go to all the trouble to make it removable. Use L copper. Install fixtures that have a rough in that stays in the wall. The actual valve and trim are accessible from the outside.

If you're really worried - keep some extra tile.

Here is a link that might be useful: Example: Grohe iBox Rough In

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 4:18PM
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