Opinions on Drilling Through Shower Wall

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TipsMcStagger

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The girlfriend moved into a new (to her) apartment in NYC. The shower was renovated 10 to 20 years ago and is in decent shape but the shower head was roughed-in fairly low. The shower body was installed on an adjacent wall and I have no idea how the pipe was routed to the drop ear.

delta-58820-b1.jpg


I've ordered a Delta Emerge shower column (58820) but now I have extremely cold feet about installing it because it requires four 1/2" holes to be drilled to install toggle bolts and I'm very concerned about damaging the pipe or whatever else could be behind this wall. This is a high rise apartment building.

Both the girlfriend and I really like this shower column but I'm wondering if I need to keep it simple and install some kind of gooseneck to raise the shower head. Thoughts from the pros?

Also, would any of you have a guess as to what model thermostatic valve might be installed behind this Grohe trim kit? I haven't got a chance to remove the trim kit yet but the GF said there is almost no ability to change the water temperature when adjusting the control.

TIA.

tipsmcstagger-shower-1.jpg


tipsmcstagger-shower-2.jpg
 
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Terry

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John Gayewski

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If you drill carefully you should be fine. The problem comes when your pushing too hard and drill past the wall.

I do think you could find a better way to raise it though.

I wouldn't be afraid to drill, but I got those skills. Good luck
 

TipsMcStagger

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The valve looks like a thermostatic Grohe Atrio
https://www.grohe.us/Thermostatic-Valves-Trims/Central-Thermostatic-Valve-Trim/GROHE-CHROME-19170000

Drilling holes through marble isn't too bad. There will also be a backer board behind it too. How many units need to be shut down if you hit something? The line from the valve won't have pressure at least. Though it would be nice to have an idea of what else may be in the wall.

Thanks for the info on the valve. I'll see if I can find some documentation. I don't know how prone to failure these are but maybe it can be adjusted.

I'll have to ask the super how many floors are on this line. I guess I'm not particularly nervous about physically drilling through the marble and backer board as am I at potentially discovering some obstacle that would preclude the use of the toggle bolt(s). And now I've got a hole or holes drilled for a fixture I can't install. We just have no idea what's behind these walls. But I'm probably being overly concerned.


If you drill carefully you should be fine. The problem comes when your pushing too hard and drill past the wall.

I do think you could find a better way to raise it though.

I wouldn't be afraid to drill, but I got those skills. Good luck

The GF and I both like the column because it will raise the shower head up higher for me but also adds a handheld with a diverter down low where she can easily reach it.

What suggestions do you have for a better way to raise the head?
 
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Reach4

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Could you pull the big chrome cover and slip a little camera in there?
borescope camera could be a search term.
 

TipsMcStagger

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Could you pull the big chrome cover and slip a little camera in there?
borescope camera could be a search term.
Last week I pulled the escutcheon on the shower neck down but the gap is sealed with caulk or silicone. I didn't want to mess with it for the time being.

I have an Android borescope camera in FL and I don't think this gap would be large enough for it to fit through. But there could be smaller devices available.

Have any of you ever played with those supposed see-through-walls devices such as Walabot?
 

John Gayewski

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Why can't you use a different anchor that only needs the depth and doesn't matter if it goes all of the way through.
 

Jadnashua

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A carbide bit will drill most marble, but a diamond bit will maybe make a cleaner hole. To maybe have a little more control, you might use a diamond core bit. It's easier to keep from jamming through the wall. Most core bits do not come with a center bit, so it takes a little knowledge and dexterity to use one and get your hole exactly where you want it. Two tricks:
1. Drill a hole in a board where you want the holes, tape or hold the board on the wall and use the hole to guide your hole saw.
2. Hold the drill at about a 45-degree angle with an edge where you want it. Carefully use that edge to make a divot and as it deepens, slowly bring the drill perpendicular to the wall so you're cutting the whole circle.

If you don't use one of those methods, it's likely hole saw will skate along the wall. Have a spray bottle of water and keep the bit wet. With a core bit, you're more grinding a hole than cutting it like you would in wood or metal, so it goes slower.

If I get a chance, I'll try my Walabot on a tiled wall...not sure if it will see much of anything through it.
 

wwhitney

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So do you (or your girlfriend) own the apartment? If not, I would think you'd want to ask the building owner for permission to modify the shower by drilling. Perhaps they would do it for you and then you'd not have any liability.

Cheers, Wayne
 

Jadnashua

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From what I understand (may be wrong!), NYC talks about apartment where you're renting like the rest of the country talks about condominiums where you own your unit. I don't know about NYC, but where I live, any plumbing mods must be done by a licensed plumber in a multi-family dwelling. But yes, if you're a renter, it can get libelous to make unapproved mods to a unit.
 

TipsMcStagger

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We own the apartment. It's a co-op. The super will do the the installation. We've already had a conversation with him. He's less concerned about the installation than I am.
 

Tuttles Revenge

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walbot do not see through walls. They are just stud sensors with a fancier readout that translates what they are picking up. I don't think they will penetrate through tile as well. Last time I checked they didn't work on plaster walls even.

I thought that Hansgrohe makes a similar unit that only uses the drop ear to get the overhead and the handheld. There are also bars that use a suction cup on the bottom.. But for that matter you might be able to simply epoxy the base plate to the tile.

04527chrome.jpg
 

TipsMcStagger

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The Delta Emerge unit we bought does use the drop-ear to charge the entire fixture. From a plumbing perspective, installing the Delta fixture is no more involved than replacing a shower arm. The existing shower arm is removed and the Delta inlet adapter is threaded into the drop ear. The fixture slides over the inlet adapter and is sealed with o-rings.

The four holes that need to be drilled are simply to secure the fixture to the wall.

Here's a link to the installation sheet.
 
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Tuttles Revenge

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The four holes that need to be drilled are simply to secure the fixture to the wall.

Yes. The upper holes I usually sink longer screws into the wood backing used to hold the drop ear 90. I too agree with someone above that I would try to use a simple wedge anchor into the tile before using the toggles. and if I did end up using toggles, I only use the type that use a zip tie style system to secure them in place rather than the ones that require the bolt in place to hold them. "Toggler" i believe is a brand of these.

*one note of caution*
a quick measurement of how deep the drop ear is behind the wall too. The Kohler kits come with a standard o-ring nipple that covers a set range of depth.. But if your nipple is too deep or too close to the wall, you need to order a different nipple.
 

TipsMcStagger

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Yes, I saw the same limitation with the inlet adapter design that Delta uses. I emailed the installation instructions to the super and pointed out that he should put a mark (or tape) on the existing shower arm flush with the tile before removing it so he can see how far it extends into the wall when seated in the drop ear.

I certainly don't want to find out after drilling that it's out of specification. If it's outside of the 2" specification, we'll have to go with a different fixture.
 

Tuttles Revenge

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Yes, I saw the same limitation with the inlet adapter design that Delta uses. I emailed the installation instructions to the super and pointed out that he should put a mark (or tape) on the existing shower arm flush with the tile before removing it so he can see how far it extends into the wall when seated in the drop ear.

I certainly don't want to find out after drilling that it's out of specification. If it's outside of the 2" specification, we'll have to go with a different fixture.

Too deep can be fixed with a nipple and coupling. Hard to say from the photo of the existing shower arm It looks like its installed with the longer bit of the arm outside of the wall, where the shorter bit is installed in the drop ear.. backwards. I'll wager a guess that the face of the drop ear is about 1.5" from the tile face.. and likely in the sweet spot of the new fixture.
 

TipsMcStagger

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LOL...funny that you're guessing it's in the sweet spot. It might very well be, but I've spent the past couple of days thinking about how I didn't really care for Delta's design, which doesn't allow for easy adjustability outside the 2" specification. The little voice inside my head was shouting and after reading your initial comments (in post 16), that sealed the deal. I just returned the Delta unit and will order the Kohler fixture instead.

I like that Kohler has a broader initial range of adjustability, plus specific provisions to compensate if out of spec. Maybe the Delta fixture would have worked fine but not knowing how far back that drop ear was roughed-in doesn't sit well with me (Kohler's installation specs).
 

Jadnashua

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It's been my experience with Kohler stuff is that they are much less forgiving on mounting stuff. FOr example, some of their body sprays require the distance to be within 1/16" to fit properly.

Keep the instruction sheet...Kohler changes things frequently, and identifying any repair/replacement part you may need can be really tough to identify without it.
 
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