Which is better -single shower or separate valves?

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by 12fingers, Nov 13, 2008.

  1. 12fingers

    12fingers New Member

    Nov 13, 2008
    This morning the hot water shower valve did not completely shut off the water. After playing with it a bit, I finally closed the flow. Later my wife took a shower and the same problem existed. Again, I finally shut the flow. Taking the valve covers off and looking aty the stem and other hardware, I thought the possible replacement to be beyond my capabilities and way beyond the tools I have.

    I called the friendly plumber who came over for an evaluation. First he stated that I had Sterling company valves and the company is out of business. The replacement parts they are getting do not fit correctly and there are many problems with this.

    He suggested that I replace the two valve system for a single valve job which would entail a bit of work. Needless to state the price may be in-line with the present day market but it seemed a bit much.

    However, my question are:

    Is the Sterling valve company out of business and replacement parts are not very good replacements and therefore a new hot and cold water valves should be installed?

    He also suggested a single valve system instead of the two valve system although he will do either--but the single one was his suggestion as being a better job.

    Finally, to do either job he explained that he had to get to the piping behind the shower wall to make any valve replacement because they are soldered in place as opposed to the old screw-in valves . As explained, the sterling system is soldered and cannot be simply screwed out and replaced as such. Is he correct about the soldering and therefore any replacement becomes more costly?

    Anyone who would offer ANY suggestions or thoughts or even any comments that would give me some idea towards which direction I should go would be greatly appreciated.

    I would even accept as being very helpful a suggestion that I find a different mechanic if you feel that the one I had was hyping a bigger job than necessary

  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    If you can repair what you have (one of the pros may know the status of that companies products), that remains grandfathered. If you replace it, it requires anti-scald technology which is usually cheaper with a single-handle valve. Those typically come on full force cold, and you continue to rotate it until it get to the temp you want. An alternative is to go with a (usually) more expensive temperature controlled unit. This usually has at least two controls - one for volume and one to set the temperature. I prefer these since you can just turn the volume on/off (and control it if that's an issue), and once you've found your ideal setting, leave it there forever, winter or summer when the incoming cold means you normally need more hot (which you'd have to manually do on a single handle unit).

    If you have access from behind the valve, it's pretty straightforward. If you don't, then working through a relatively small hole means it takes longer getting the old one out and putting in a new one. If the hole needs to be enlarged (not uncommon), they sell special plates to cover it up.

    From a safety and resell point of view, it makes sense to update to current codes; choosing a one or two knob control is up to your choice and budget. The time to install is the same.

    Many valves come with multi-mode connections, you can either solder them on or screw on an adapter. Soldering is preferred as it's more reliable on something that is touched on a regular basis. Older ones typically came one way or the other.
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  4. Master Plumber Mark

    Master Plumber Mark Master Plumber

    Feb 6, 2005
    Sensitivity trainer.. plumber of mens souls
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of
    sterling is junk...

    Sterling is pretty old stuff and I would not fool with it

    I dont know what kind of price he was quoteing to install a single handle faucet...

    In the midwest you would be looking at about around 450.00

    If you get the Delta single handle 1700 faucet the wall can be opened up from the front and changed out without having to re-doa bunch of tile..

    they make a special trim plate in chrome that will cover an 8 inch spread shower faucet....

    with this special trim kit and a Delta 1700 faucet
    I would take a ball park guess
    between 500 and $600

  5. Dunbar Plumbing

    Dunbar Plumbing Master Plumber

    Apr 18, 2005
    Service Plumber, Outdoor Temperature Relief Owner
    Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati Area
    Single handled valves are code required by means of thermostatically controlled.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Are they charging you 35% on cards you accept for sales, or on your personal charge card? If the former, that is why I do not accept credit cards, and if the latter the reason why I do not use them.
  7. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Sep 1, 2004
    Yakima WA
    I recently replaced an old Delta single handle valve with a Delta 1700 trim. My wife insisted on having a volume control as well as a temperature control. I'm glad she did. This went together quite easily other than having to fiddle awhile with getting the maximum temperature adjustment just right.
  8. Phil Clemence

    Phil Clemence New Member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Yeah, it is a nice feature. Center temperature dial in the center of the rotating pressure lever handle. Seems to work pretty good, but of course different users like different temps, but still.. a nice visual feature - i know how much hotter to tweak it now - i don't have to stand waiting for the lines to heat up :)

    I DO wish the temperature control was a little looser though. When the washers/springs are greased, you have to use both hands to adjust the temperature (one to hold the volume knob still). Well i actually do it with one hand - holding the volume full stop with some fingers and pushing with temp dial with the others .. i am not ever sure which fingers i use to do that :D
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