Help! Is shower trim wrong in all 3 bathrooms?!

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by Concerned, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. Concerned

    Concerned New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Florida
    Hello:

    As part of a whole house remodel, we reno'd 3 bathrooms. The master shower has 2 sets of trim handles--1 for the showerhead and 1 for the jets. All in all, we have 4 sets of shower handles. They are all Moen (different models) and all have the correct rough-in valve.

    Our concern is that 3 of the 4 handles look "wrong." They are not flush with the wall plate. There is a metal cylinder (part #96987) that is quite visible through the gap between the handle and the wall plate. I should add that I don't even see part #12574 anywhere in the installation the plumber did. I took it apart to check after he was gone.

    Diagram of Moen Shower Trim:

    [​IMG]
    http://www.moen.com/shared/docs/instruction-sheets/ins1901b.pdf

    [​IMG]

    The 1 (out of 4) handle that looks correct to us:



    The rest of the handles are this far away from the shower trim:


    My questions:

    1. Is this "normal" and acceptable?

    2. If we wanted to make the handles flush with the wall plate, do we have any options as far as solutions?

    BTW, we have a plumber who did the installation, and his first reaction was to think I was crazy for worrying about the gap. When I stressed the issue, he tried cutting the metal cylinder on the one that sticks out, but that had no effect on how much it sticks out. He said it's possible his partner (who did the rough in) put the valves out too far. If we were to cut a hole behind the plumbing (the tile is already in), could we "pull" the plumbing and valve further in?
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2011
  2. jadziedzic

    jadziedzic Member

    Messages:
    96
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    The missing piece is called a "plaster guard", used to keep plaster and etc. out of the vavle area while the wall is being finished. They can be and often are removed prior to tiling.

    The person who roughed in the valves did not position them correctly; they should have been installed deeper into the wall. The problem with pulling the valve is that any attached rigid piping (copper, not pex) such as supply lines or the shower riser will also need to move.
  3. Concerned

    Concerned New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Florida
    Should this incorrect positioning of the valve be obvious to a reputable plumber? My plumber is licensed and all, but when I kept saying the handle looked "wrong" sticking up off the wall plate he just, basically, said, "Nah, no way. It's fine. It won't leak back there. Don't worry about it." The solution he suggested was to find out if Moen makes a longer cylinder so that the one that looks normal will be just as far off the wall plate as the others, which sounded absolutely absurd to me, but he just looked at me like I was crazy when I kept saying that was the only one that looked "right."
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,313
    Location:
    New England
    There is a min/max value for most valves and this might be as much as an inch or so of tolerance in where the valve body can be placed and the trim still fitting. This min/max relates to the installation that will allow the trim to fit, not how you might want it to look. As long as the trim fits, it is a 'correct' installation. For best cosmetic appearances, at least in the same shower, you'd want them all to be the same. If a valve is installed too deep in the wall, many manufacturers make an extension kit to move the handle shaft out so the trim can still be installed. There is no fix for the valve being too far out and showing more of the shaft (i.e., moving the handle out) except for moving the valve body back.
  5. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,412
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    That's pretty typical. Most of the time, the handle is out there a ways. At least if you follow Moen's specs.
  6. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    It takes a little effort, and the plumber has to be provided with an exact sample of the wall build....backer, tiles, mortar, shims, whatever is going onto that wall, in order to be exact. Even with that, the install specs usually have 1/2" to 3/4" wiggle room.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,237
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Please DO NOT be one of those customers who complain, "But it doesn't look like the picture or the showroom display". The ONLY time it looks like that is when it IS installed improperly, namely too deeply in the wall. IF the valve is installed close to the manufacturer's recommendation, as set by the "plaster guard" it will ALWAYS have substantial amount of the "stop tube" visible. In fact the manufacturer has a maximum/minimum variation to allow for revisions to the wall structure after the valve is installed, which WILL cause a variation in the amount of tube visible. IF the plumber tried to GUESS at what the finished wall location was REALLY going to be and erred, then he would have had to install an "extension' which would have moved the handle even FURTHER away from the trim ring. YOUR VALVE IS INSTALLED CORRECTLY IF he did not have to use an extension, and the trim plate fits against the wall. The only time it is INCORRECT is when either of those two conditions exist, meaning it is too DEEP, or too far OUT of the wall.

    The "longer cylinder", and stem, is called an "extension kit", usually only used when the installation IS WRONG. A reputable plumber would NOT say the installation is wrong, so he would NOT have said anything about its positioning.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
  8. Concerned

    Concerned New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Florida
    I am certainly not "one of those customers." My SO and I have had everything go wrong in our remodel: from tile installation in the bathrooms to the wood floors to the kitchen cabinets and now this. Through it all, we have been extremely patient and level-headed with our sub-contractors, and have never asked for more than what is possible. In fact, when they have messed up, we have been the first to offer to repurchase the materials and even pay them for some of their extra time to get it right. That is all we want. It has been a long, difficult, and expensive process, and all we have asked is for our sub-contractors to pay attention to the details and not do sloppy work.

    I am not asking for the handle to match what is in the diagram or at the showroom, as I did not buy the shower trim from a show room. All I am asking is for the two handles that are in the SAME shower to match each other. Obviously, if 1 of these 4 handles throughout the house is correctly set against the wall plate, then I don't see why it is so problematic to have all of them set correctly against the wall plate. The distances from handle to wall plate are 3/8", 3/4", and 1". This is way beyond Moen's specified 1/8" - 1/4" tolerance.
  9. BobL43

    BobL43 DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,799
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    I can understand how you feel. If 2 shower valves are in the same shower (that must be a big shower stall), then I also would expect the plumber to be careful enough to make those 2 at least, mounted the same. On the otherhand, maybe there was something in the wall that interfered with the exact desired depth of mounting it? That's why I pretty much do everything myself. When I screw up, I can only blame myself and laugh at it (until my wife makes me rip it out and do it over) and realize you get what you pay for. Sad to say, contractors in just about every trade in my area are in it for a quick buck. Not everybody, that would not be fair to say, but when you find a good contractor, you stick with him. When you do a batrhroom and put good money into it, you expect more than just good function. Appearrance is very important. If the shower valves were all in different rooms, then I would be more willing to accept it. All the tradesman here say there is nothing wrong here, but I wonder if they were not plumbers and were in your situation, if they'd be willing to accept this?
    Sorry to stir the pot here, but those are MY feelings.
  10. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,412
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Nowhere on the specs does it list an 1/8" variance. That would be an insane construction tolerance for a shower valve.
    Even the tile grout on the wall can vary by 1/4" depending on how it's spread. And the tile itself can be either thin or thick. You would have to be God to get that one right. And then depend on God fearing men to be perfect too.

    It does show on the spec sheet that the difference between the IPS and the CC (sweated) valve is 1/8" different, based on how the brass bodies are cast.

    It would have been nice in the one room with two control valves if those had matched up.
    Same wall or different wall?

    I can say that if anyone here that plumbs had installed those valves to, and notice this (2-1/2" MAX) from center of pipe to finished wall that there would still be a goodly amount of stem showing. And that's the "Max" dimension. You can have it closer to the finished wall and it's still in spec.
    http://www.moen.com/shared/docs/product-specifications/ts2713sp.pdf

    Be glad you chose a major brand that allows for that. Some of the Pegasus valves on the shelf at Home Depot had absolutely no tolerance. Those were a nightmare for plumbers.
  11. Concerned

    Concerned New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Florida
    Terry,

    You are correct about 1/8" - 1/4" being incorrect. That's what the Moen representative told me on the phone yesterday "off the top of her head." I just called back and had the rep look it up and got different numbers this time. This rep also had another suggestion.

    It seems I can get an (expensive) 1/2" escutcheon extender for the handle the handles that are 3/4" and 1" away from the wall plates, and I'm happy with that solution, assuming the escutcheon extender doesn't look like crud.

    My concern is still the handles in the master shower that are one on top of the other (one for shower head, one for jets) and only about a foot (if that) apart. These are the 2 in the pictures I posted in my original post. The two handles are so close together that it looks really ODD that there should be such a gap in one and almost no gap in the other.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 14, 2011
  12. Dia

    Dia New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Vancouver Island, BC
    I too, am having the same problem ... just saw our finished trim today. Moen Kingsley shower handle (moentrol) in ensuite and Moen Rothbury tub/shower combo in main. I asked the plumber about it but he said that was perfectly normal. I don't like how it looks at all ... as for "being one of those customers" that complain about it not looking like the showroom ... I have never shopped for shower trim in my life except for our now extensive and expensive 2 bathroom renovation that is nearly complete ... when I purchase a product I expect it to look like what is presented to me .... or at the very least ... have the sales person at least mention how the end product may look different. I wouldn't have even thought to be concerned about the handle depth. I will have to get used to it but I think that Moen has misrepresented their product.
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,237
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; In fact, when they have messed up, we have been the first to offer to repurchase the materials and even pay them for some of their extra time to get it right.

    Now I do have a problem with THAT. If it was really the contractor's error, it makes no difference how much it costs, HE should have redone it WITHOUT any extra cost, at least I and most other plumbers, would have. Do you really think a salesperson, who is trying to induce you to make a purchase, is going to say, "This is what some bippy at the factory thought it should look like when the display was assembled, BUT yours may not look anything like this, because the company makes the valves to work in the real work, not in a designer's office"? There is also the situation where the homeowner tells the plumber the wall will be 3/8" tile cemented to the wall board, but when the room is finished, she says, "You know, we decided that 1" stone tile on a cement base REALLY looked better." AND then complains the valve does not look like it should have after he does whatever is necessary to correct for HER revision.
  14. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,185
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    IMHO, both are set wrong but the calculation of where the finished surface landed may or may not have been the plumber's fault. One is set too deep and the other too shallow. If I were the contractor, I would open the wall from the other side and make adjustments. Depending on how much slack there is to "pull" or "push" the rough-in, it may require re-sweating some of the joints.
  15. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,237
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; IMHO, both are set wrong but the calculation of where the finished surface landed may or may not have been the plumber's fault. One is set too deep and the other too shallow.

    I am glad your screen name says "not in the trades", because that comment would be ludicrous otherwise. A valve is ONLY set "too deep" when it needs an extension, and if it is "too shallow" you are screwed because there is no "pretty" way to make it right. Deep or shallow can also be caused by the tile installer, the construction carpenters, the builder, or the homeowner. All the plumber can do is go by what they tell him when he installs the valve, although normally since all the walls in a room should be the same, the valves should come out equal.

    That "correct valve" in the second picture came within a 1/4" of being WRONG and requiring an extension, so someone was lucky. There is only one extension and it is 1" additional.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  16. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,185
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) means just that, my opinion just like you are entitled to your opinion. If the knob is so close that it is touching the escutcheon, IMHO it is set too deep. If a lot of the stem shows, it is set too shallow. How much clearance and how much variance between them is a matter of personal opinion, but the inconsistency smells of poor workmanship. As I said, it may or may not have been the fault of the plumber. I would not accept that sort of workmanship and if the contractor would not make it right, I would open the wall on the other side.
  17. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,185
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    If the first picture with no clearance was the objective to shoot for, with the possible variation in tile setting, there would not be both plus and minus wiggle room so if one were to strive for no gap and came up shy by 1/16" it would rub. Also, the tighter the clearance, the more visible the variation, so if one were to strive for a 1/4" gap and missed it by 1/16", one at 3/16" and the other at 5/16" would IMHO still be acceptable.
  18. Concerned

    Concerned New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Florida
    First of all, let me thank all the members of this forum. Because of you, I am much closer to reaching an acceptable outcome to this situation.

    Secondly, if this forum doubles as a venue for plumbers to vent their frustrations with their clients, the homeowners, I apologize for unwittingly stumbling into your midst.

    HJ, within this single thread, you have presented 2 hypothetical situations that had nothing to do with my original post: a) a homeowner wanting the handles to look like they did at a showroom that I never visited, and b) a homeowner changing their mind at the last minute for a different thickness wall tile, which I did not do. I sincerely apologize on behalf of all homeowners for those who have caused you such deep consternation that you must take such an accusatory and condescending tone in all of your posts. Although I doubt it will assuage your mortal abhorrence of the uninitiated plumber and/or homeowner, I will add a bit of back-story to my plumbing woes to at least put them in perspective for the rest of the forum (if this post doesn't get canned):

    The morning after plumbing in the master shower (the one with the two handles featured in the OP) was finished, we had our inspection. The plumber finished late the previous day, already two weeks behind schedule because he came down with the flu, and so my SO and I did not have time to inspect the plumbing. After the inspection, the tile setter came in to start tiling and he made it about three feet up the shower before the end of the day. That evening, as my SO and I are inspecting everything, we notice that the main shower pipe, with the valves where the handles will attach, is about 5" to the left of the center line of the tile. The tile is 24" wide and the shower stall is exactly 2 tiles wide with a thin grout line directly in the center. And the plumber's pipe is veering hard left. It wasn't so easy to see when there was no tile yet laid, but after the first three rows of tile were laid it was quite obvious. The shower is only two tiles wide, and our handles were going to be almost a quarter of the way into the left tile. The next day we asked the tile setter to stop work in that shower and had the plumber come back to re-sweat the pipes and lay them straight. So, not only did we provide the exact width of wall, thinset, and tile, but he already had a third of the wall height laid out for him to match up the valves to, and still my two shower handles are wildly inconsistent!!!

    None of this seemed pertinent at the time of my original post because I didn't think it right or necessary to vent my frustration at an inept plumber on a public forum. All I was hoping for was a solution to what is, to me, an aesthetic problem. I realize it is to some extent an aesthetic matter and I at no point was trying to lay blame. I was only asking for suggestions to fix the handles so I would be happy with them since, after all, I paid for them. And, before HJ suggests that it is, in the end, my fault for hiring an inept plumber, let me add a bit more to the puzzle: I live in a small town; we do not have that many plumbing companies; this gentleman has been a plumber for 40 years, his daddy was a plumber, his granddaddy was a plumber. If I'm at fault, I'm at fault for hiring a plumber past his prime.

    Again, thank you all for helping me come a little closer to finding a solution to what is to some of you a silly trifle, but is to me a heartbreaking disaster in a home I've put so much effort, time, and money into

    [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2011
  19. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,412
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    It would be typical that the handle would be out a ways from the wall.

    The fact that the two valves on the same wall were plumbed at different depths was a workmanship issue.
    You should not have needed to call a plumber back to make the installation plumb to the wall. Installed valves at an angle is sloppy.

    Since you did call him back, he could have made them the same distance out.

    You can only adjust with the adapter in the 1" increment that hj mentioned. It sucks that the plumber installed the way he did.
  20. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,237
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    My "hypothetical" situations are REAL ones. If you do some searching you will find several postings at this site where the homeowner bemoans the fact that the handle is NOT against the plate like the photos in a catalog show or like the ones on the display board at the showroom. At the point where the valve was repositioned and the tile was only partly done, was when SOMEONE should have realized that the "plaster ground" was NOT going to be flush with the finished tile surface, even though it is PLAINLY MARKED that it should be. (Unless you have a tileman who thinks the plaster ground is a nuisance because he has to make too nice of a cut to fit around it so he tosses it in the garbage.) IF THAT had been done the handles would ALL have been the same distance from their plates, but NOT necessarily like the one with the handle almost right against the plate.
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