Help thinking about shower hardware

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by Niccolo, Jul 16, 2018.

  1. Niccolo

    Niccolo Member

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    I'm having a contractor demolish and redo a tiled shower that had serious construction defects in a home I recently purchased. I could use advice to help me in selecting shower hardware. Specifically, I'd welcome references to overview articles that will help me pick up key terms, make sense of the spectrum of products available, narrow down my choices, etc.

    I would like a wall-mounted shower head and a separate, handheld hose-mounted shower head. The flow of water to one or the other can be controlled either on the main shower trim or with a separately mounted handle (all things equal, a separate handle seems nicer). If possible, I would like the main trim to enable me to control temperature and water pressure separately, though that's something on which I may end up compromising for budget reasons. Pressure balancing seems like a nice feature, though I'm told that proper plumbing shouldn't lead to serious temperature fluctuations when a toilet is flushed or other things happen on the water lines (not sure how accurate that is).

    Other sections of this forum were incredibly helpful with toilet selection (I didn't post anything about that, just browsed voraciously). Help and advice on shower hardware much appreciated!
     
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Anti-scald shower valves are a requirement these days. There is more than one way to achieve that. I put an article in the tutorial section that describes the various generic types of shower valves...read that for background.

    Two of the three basic types of control will also let you control the volume...the basic pressure-balanced valve (single handle) is either full on or full off, the other two will let you adjust the volume as well.

    WHat's normally used to swap between one outlet and another is called a divertor valve. They can be configured in numerous ways, and the more options, the more expensive they get.

    There are numerous ways to make an industry standard shower. My preference is to use a bonded sheet membrane. There are a few manufacturers of this type of shower construction, the two oldest are Noble and Schluter (both nearly 30-years old, so it's not new tech). Check out www.schluter.com to view some videos of their system being installed. The others are similar, but Schluter seems to have the better videos. Then, run your shower construction plans by the people at www.johnbridge.com for some guidance on actually building one. FWIW, probably 70-80% of the showers built today do not follow industry guidelines. It's not particularly hard, but it is VERY detail oriented...it must be done right, and lots of people don't really have a clue. Ask your contractor which TCNA handbook procedure he is going to utilize. If he gives you a blank look, find another.
     
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  4. Niccolo

    Niccolo Member

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    Thanks! I'm not seeing the article that describes various generic valve types in the tutorial section (https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?forums/tutorials.37/), am I looking in the right place?
     
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Humm, while this can help some, it is not what I thought was there https://terrylove.com/forums/index....rmostatically-controlled-shower-valves.63931/ . I guess I may need to write it up again.

    There are three types of valves:
    - single handle - almost all of these are pressure balanced...full on/off, no volume control, only mixing for temperature
    - two handle, volume, temperature mix (also pressure balanced)
    - two handle, volume, thermostatic control. Some can respond to temperature fast enough so they aren't pressure balanced, but some contain both that and a pressure balance control if their temperature sensing can't respond fast enough.

    Several companies now make an in-wall valve body that can take any one of those three types of control. One of them is the Delta R10000 rough-in valve. Depending on what trim you buy, it will also contain the appropriate cartridge(s) needed to make it work in the manner you desire. Some big-box stores sell it as a kit, but at a pro shop, the rough-in and trim are sold separately. Grohe has a similar system, and there may be others.
     
  6. Niccolo

    Niccolo Member

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    That's super helpful. Any thoughts on how to structure the choices? For example, for a lower/moderate budget, the Toto Drake toilet seemed like an extremely compelling package. What's the equivalent shower system, if that's even a coherent question?
     
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Within the same family, the price goes up as you go down my list of types. You need to decide which features are important to you. As that thread on thermostatically controlled valves said, given a choice, I prefer a thermostatically controlled valve.

    If price is your major concern, go with a single-handle, pressure balanced valve with a diverter valve to select your desired outlet. I've had good luck with Grohe products. The Delta line is solid, but I don't like some of their engineering solutions. That doesn't mean that they don't work. Some of it is a function of the trim you like and the cost. One sister is sort of compulsive, and really likes how the typical Delta faucet works...most of their designs only shut off when the handle is centered, forcing the valve to have to move on the seals almost every time you use it. For example, say you're brushing your teeth, turn the water off...it moves to the center (warm) position. You want to rinse, you turn it on and have to move it back to cold. SHutting it off turns it back to warm. She is compulsive and likes that it is centered when off. Me, I prefer how my Grohe valve works...you can shut it off with the handle at any orientation so when you turn it back on, it's the same temperature it was before. This saves sliding wear on the seals, and, to me is more convenient. To her, she turns it back to center so it 'looks' proper, defeating the functionality. Luckily, I don't see her all that often, as that compulsive behavior gets annoying after awhile. As Ben Franklin once said...friends and fish are similar...after three days, they both start to smell! Anyway, off topic. Moen stuff when it needs to be serviced tends to be a bear to remove the cartridge, especially if you don't have softened water. Don't have much experience with Pfister stuff. Ask 10 people, you'll get 10 different answers.
     
  8. Niccolo

    Niccolo Member

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    Very helpful.

    After doing some research, I'm fairly set on thermostatic.

    I'm inclined to have the diverter handle be separate, though I'd be willing to have it on the main trim, too.

    The handshower seems like it could be either on a pole--which most people do--or just a hook. I suppose poles are more popular because that way you have a height adjustment so you can use the handle as a fixed shower, at varying heights, too.

    It seems like Delta has some nice options that, while hardly cheap, don't totally blow the budget.

    We have fairly hard water and are not planning on installing a water softener at this time, for what it's worth.
     
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    FWIW, for my shower, I installed a handheld on a pole, and it is the only shower head...works fine for me and saves some complication and therefore costs in both materials and labor. Many of the handhelds have adjustable spray patterns.
     
  10. Niccolo

    Niccolo Member

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    Makes sense. I much prefer having a fixed showerhead in addition to the handheld (I know it'll cost me).
     
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Joined:
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    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    Location:
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    Depending on the brand, the holder for the handheld places the thing at nearly any height and angle, so it works for a child or an adult as it is slid along the bar. Your choice, your house...I don't find it a factor.
     
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