Shower valves perform two main functions: On the one hand, they control the water flow rate. On the other, they determine your shower’s water temperature.
There are different types of shower valves, depending on their functionality. This article will cover all of them and explain their primary benefits and disadvantages.
What is a Shower Valve?
A shower valve is the heart of the shower. This component can control water flow and can allow you to set up your desired temperature.
Getting a suitable kit will ensure you have the shower of your dreams, but you should always remember that each shower valve type will come with its own piping requirements.
Main Types of Shower Valves
If you are remodeling your home or installing a new shower, there are hundreds of different shower valves you can choose from. Getting the right type and model can seem challenging at first, but here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to understanding their different features and benefits.
There are three main types of shower valves on the market: thermostatic shower valves, pressure balancing shower valves, and diverter shower valves.
Thermostatic Shower Valve
- One of the main advantages of thermostatic shower valves is that they can maintain a consistent temperature even when using other home water appliances.
- They do this by using a thermostat that controls the temperature down to a degree and a separate command for the pressure. Once you pinpoint the setting one you like, you won’t need to deviate from it.
- This is why thermostatic valves are considered some of the best types of shower valves for multiple heads and sprays.
Pressure Balancing Valve
- Pressure balancing valves can sense changes in water pressure (both in hot and cold lines) and partially close down one side so they can deliver flow at a consistent temperature.
- These valves, sometimes also called anti-scald valves, can avoid the scenario where one person having a shower gets burned because someone else flushes the toilet.
- Although a pressure balancing shower valve is always a great idea, you should keep in mind these models require more frequent maintenance because they can accumulate scale and heavy mineral deposits in the internal cartridge.
- Diverter shower valves don’t control the water temperature or the water pressure. Instead, they divert the flow when you have more than one shower head.
- Diverter valves are usually used in addition to the main shower valve and are typically installed above it. If you have a pressure balancing valve, you will only need one diverter. With a thermostatic valve, you will want multiple diverters for different body sprays and shower heads.
Shower Valve Controls and Connections
When you are searching for the next best shower valve for your home, it’s important to understand the different connection types. These include:
- IPS connections: IPS (or Iron Pipe Straight) connections are threaded on the valve. A plumber attaches an adaptor and then solders the copper pipe to it.
- CC connections: CC (or Copper Connection) means that a plumber will solder the copper pipes and the shower valve directly.
- PEX connections: PEX refers to plastic tubing that is more resistant to scale and corrosion and more flexible than copper. PEX is becoming more popular as new homes switch from older piping systems.
Before you install a shower, make sure you decide the number of ports you will need. For example, a walk-in shower and a tub-shower combo have different port requirements, and it’s better if you can let your plumber know this in advance.
Always check your service stops before installing a new system; if you live in a multi-residency building, you might need to contact your superintendent before arranging a visit.
If you live in a home and don’t have a service stop, consider adding one; they can be the difference between a valve getting repaired in a couple of hours or a few days.
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