Replacing a shower faucet on your own may seem like an impossible task to accomplish, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can comfortably replace your old or damaged shower faucet by following the simple steps outlined in this project guide.
You may want to block your shower drain before starting the project to prevent small parts or tools from falling into the opening.
Tools and materials that you may need:
- Hand saws
- Reciprocating saws
- Cleaning rags
- Tube cutting
- Plier set
- Gas fittings and connectors
- Bathtub/Shower faucets
Step 1: Turn off the water
To prevent distractions when working on your project, you will have to turn off the water supply to the bathroom. If there is no separate cutoff valve for your bathroom, consider cutting off the water supply for the whole house.
Step 2: Remove the old trim
Next up, you will have to remove the faucet handle and showerhead. The correct way to remove these parts will depend on the manufacturer of the set. However, the majority of showerheads and faucet handles can be removed by simply unscrewing or pulling off the different parts.
Step 3. Remove the old valve
You will have to remove the old valve so that you can install the new one. To access the valve, you will have to first cut a section of drywall from the other side of the bathroom wall. To locate the valve, drill a pilot hole from the bathroom side, with the hole being located next to the valve.
After you’re done, cut an even square section out from the back wall using a drywall saw. There should be a stringer with the valve mounted to it. To remove the stringer along with the valve, you will have to cut the copper pipes using a tubing cutter.
Step 4. Get the new valve
Before installing the new valve, always ensure that it’s the right one for your bathroom setup. If you use both the tub and showerhead, your valve should have two inlets: one for cold water and the other for hot water. There should also be two outlets: one for the showerhead and the other for the tub spout.
If you don’t have a tub, you will have to cap off the outlet for the tub spout before installing the valve. Besides, some valves are meant for showerheads only, if there’s no tub in your bathroom.
Before installation, ensure that the valve is mounted to a stringer and that it comes out the right distance from the wall. Be sure to also read the installation instructions carefully to ensure that you get the dimensions for the valve and plumbing right.
Step 5. Sweating the pipes
When connecting the pipe, you will have to use a torch and lead-free solder to ensure that the connection is leak-free, in a process known as sweating the pipes. To do this, begin by cleaning the ends of the pipe using a deburring tool. Next, clean the inside of the fitting using a wire brush.
After cleaning, apply a light coat of solder paste onto the cleaned ends of the copper pipe as well as inside of the valve fittings, after which you can connect the pipes. Once the fitting is firmly connected, heat the middle of the fitting using a torch.
Once everything is ready, apply solder to the joint and let it melt all around and into the seam – just be sure not to overdo it.
If you’re not interested in using the solder method, you can opt to get solderless connectors, that will only require you to push on and lock.
Step 6. Assemble the valve section
For this step, you may use the old valve section to guide the installation of the new valve. It’s highly recommended that you avoid heating the valve, as you may accidentally damage the internal components. Instead of heating the valve, you should solder female adapters onto the copper pipe, as these can be cut and attached to the threaded valve outlets.
For the remaining plumbing connections, you can opt to use push and lock or soldering connectors. These should be couplings for the straight pipe sections, as well as elbows for the cold and hot valves. If you have a bathroom tub, you can re-use your old spout during the installation. Before you can proceed to the next step, first ensure that the plumbing is properly connected.
Step 7. Get the stringer in place
For your new faucet to work as expected, you have to ensure that the valve is set to the right depth. You will be required to install a stringer that will support the valve on the wall. The majority of valves have instructions that will help you to determine the ideal depth of the stringer before you can mount the valve to the stringer.
Since it’s not a new bathroom, this process will have to be done from the opposite side of the bathroom’s wall.
Step 8. Confirm that there are no leaks
Before testing the connections, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions. Once you’re ready to test the setup, cap off the spout connections and showerhead if you have them. If your setup does not have such components, install the test cap onto the valve and make sure that it’s tightly fixed.
Next, get someone to turn the water back on while you test the connections for leaks. If there are no leaks, you can go ahead and path the wall after removing the caps.
Step 9. Connect the cartridge
This step is necessary if your valve did not come with a pre-installed cartridge. If your valve already has a cartridge on it, you can safely skip this step. For a faucet that requires the installation of the cartridge, the first thing you should do is ensure that the cartridge is correctly positioned as per the instructions.
Next, push the shower cartridge into the valve firmly while ensuring that the marks on the cartridge are in line with the slots on the valve. Once you’re done, the setup should have a snug fit. Next up, get the bonnet nut in place and use a set of pliers to tighten it down.
Step 10. Install the tub spout
Note: If you don’t have a bathroom tub, you can safely skip to the next step.
When installing the bathroom spout, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions, considering that spouts are fitted differently, depending on the manufacturer. In the majority of cases, however, you will have to begin with soldering the enclosed adapter to the outlet pipe.
Before applying heat, be sure to remove any elements such as the O-ring, that can be damaged by the heat. Next, slide the adapter over the pipe and solder by heating the adapter, after which you should use a small bead of solder on the seam. You may use a piece of cardboard or any other material that is appropriate to catch any drips.
Once the adapter has cooled, return the O-ring into position, and then screw the spout onto the adapter.
Step 11. Install the showerhead
The majority of showerheads, if not all, install the same way. All you have to do is screw the nut of the showerhead onto the threads of the shower arm, and you’re good to go. If your unit has a hand shower, you can attach it to the main unit using the hose provided.
It’s recommended that you use Teflon tape for tight and leak-proof connections. However, some faucet setups don’t require the use of Teflon tape, which is why it’s recommended that you consult the manufacturer’s instructions.
Step 12. Connect the shower trim handle
To install the trim handle, you will require a certain kind of sleeve that goes over the top of the valve and cartridge. Be sure to include any space and/or O-ring that’s required in the installation. The escutcheon should be the last part to put back in place – it should go over the sleeve, against the wall, and held in place by screws.
Step 13. Set the temperature limit
The last, but one of the most important steps is to set the temperature limit to prevent scalding. The best practice is to set the outlet temperature to no more than 120 degrees. To set the ideal outlet temperature, turn on the water and after checking to confirm that there are no leaks, put the shower handle in place.
Next, turn the handle to the hottest position. If the temperature is higher than you need it to be, remove the handle to access the temperature limit stop, which should be a clip or ring than can be turned clockwise or anticlockwise. Adjust the temperature limit stop while following your faucet’s instructions, to meet your desires temperature.
Ready… Set… Go!
Once your shower is running as expected, you should be good to go. All you have to do now is install the handle one final time, using the provided set screw. You may need an Allen wrench to tighten the screw. After you’re done, you can comfortably take a shower to ensure that everything is working to your expectations.