reversing the tub

still_lynnskiOctober 30, 2013

Currently, our shower/bath is in an alcove with the controls on the short side on the right, When we replace the tub, I would like to have the faucet for the tub on the left-hand side so I can enjoy the view out the window (very private where we are). The short left-hand side is an outside wall.

I read in one of these GW bathroom discussions that it is possible to have the showerhead on one side and the tub faucet on the other. It would be my preference to keep the showerhead and controls on the right (inside wall), but to move the tub faucet to the left (outside wall). Is this possible? Is it safe to do in New England? Is it possible... or preferable to place the tub faucet on the long wall, as that is also an interior wall (but wouldn't interfere with my bathing and gazing out the window)?

The current tub is 58x32, with a couple-three extra inches possible for additional width when we re-do the tub.

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I would not put plumbing on an outside wall. It will freeze the pipes.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 7:59PM
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We had pipes freeze and burst in an upstairs interior wall many years ago, so I know all about freezing pipes! It doesn't only happen with exterior walls, but it sure is awful when it happens.

Is it possible to put the tub spout on the long wall? I see that with the fancier drop-in tubs all the time (in pictures), but wonder if it's possible to mount the filler on the long wall with a standard alcove shower-over-tub. Then the showerhead and controls could stay on the right-hand wall, and I could still attain my objective of sitting in the tub facing the other way.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 9:57PM
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It is possible, and it can be safe, with a couple of stipulations.

Some tub spouts have a diverter built in to the spout, similar to this:

Do not use the above type of spout. Instead use a supply valve with a true diverter, or add a true A/B diverter to the plumbing scheme.

With the type of spout that has a diverter on the spout itself, how it operates is when you close the spout diverter, since water can't "fall" out of the tub spout, it backflows up through the wall plumbing to come out of the shower head.

When the diverter on the tub spout is open, there's nothing that closes off the path for the water to flow out of the shower head. Water simply follows the path of least resistance, and falling out of the tub spout is easiest, so that's where it comes out.

To get the water from the supply valve on one wall to the tub spout on the other wall, you'll need several feet of copper tubing and several 90-degree bends in that tubing to connect the two. The resistance to flow in that path can be enough for the water to back up through the shower head tubing and come out of the shower head even when the spout diverter is open.

You'll still get flow through the tub spout. But you can also have water dribbling, or even flowing, out of the shower head at the same time.

So instead use a true diverter. One that shuts off the path of the water to the shower head and opens up a path to the tub spout. And vice-versa.

So be aware when you shop.

With some shower systems, even though the tub spout does not have a diverter on the spout itself, but a diverter level on the supply valve, can still backflow water out the shower head if there is a restriction at the tub spout. Example, take a look at the instruction for this Temptrol valve.:

Tub/Shower System (figure 2) Model A
Pipe shower head from outlet marked
“S” and to tub spout from outlet marked
“T”. The diverter mechanism in this
valve is designed so that it cannot be
subject to any back pressure, other than
what is imposed by the spout supplied with
this package. Do not substitute other
outlet accessories for the tub spout such as
hoses, sprays...(my edit)...or any pipe adaptor or
additional fittings that can cause back
pressure through the valve.

The added run of tubing that you want to do from one wall to another would add the "back pressure" that they are referring to.

You can ask a salesperson in a showroom. Or if you have a valve in mind, you can even call the manufacturer's tech support line. If you go into a show room that has working displays set up, a fairly easy test is to turn the valve on and open the valve's diverter to have water come out of the tub spout.

Put your thumb or hand under the spout to restrict the flow of water. If after a few seconds water starts dribbling out of the shower head, that's a valve to stay away from.

Regarding freeze protection on an exterior wall:

When you plumb from the supply valve or diverter to the tub spout, have that run of tubing pitched downwards towards the spout for drainage. That way when the water supply valve to the tub spout is shut off, the water remaining in the plumbing run to the tub spout will drain out of the tub spout due to the pitched pipes and gravity. Even if your wall were to freeze, there would be no water in the tubing to freeze, expand, and crack the tubing.

Edit to add: I never run plumbing supply tubing that will hold water in an exterior wall. I live in CT. But for a case like this, where the tubing will only have water in it when in use, and when off it will drain, it's really not a problem.

An alternative...if this will be a tub with access under the tub deck, can you run the tubing under the tub deck? Very much like running tubing to a tub spout that is mounted on the rim of a tub? In the photo below it sort of describes what I'm writing about. The hot and cold supplies come out of the wall on the left side of the tub underneath the tub deck. In this photo, they run under the deck to the tub spout which is mid-point on the rim of the tub. The hot and cold copper supplies are the runs covered in fray foam insulation. In your case, you could just run the copper all the way to the other end wall, then to the tub's spout.

Hope all that makes sense!

This post was edited by mongoct on Thu, Oct 31, 13 at 10:10

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 12:55AM
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Thank you for your generous response, mongo! It was so helpful. I appreciate it very much.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 9:17AM
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Lynn, If you put spout in middle or on long wall, would you have the drain in centre?

    Bookmark   November 3, 2013 at 1:55AM
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