If you are planning on installing a new shower in your home, then one of the most important things that you need to consider is what type of shower valve you will install.
If you don’t know what a shower valve is, no worries because this is the first thing that we will explain here today. Once we figure out that, we are going to talk about the five different types of shower valves out there. Our aim is to help you choose the best possible type for your purposes.
What Is a Shower Valve?
The main point of modern shower valves is to stop temperature fluctuations from occurring as well as flow fluctuations. In other words, modern shower valves are all about preventing sudden changes in water pressure and temperature from occurring to help keep you as comfortable and safe as possible when in the shower.
Exactly how the temperature and the flow of water are regulated does depend on the exact type of shower valve that you purchase, which is, exactly what we will discuss below.
5 Types of Shower Valves to Know
What is important for you to know is that there are five main types of shower valves out there, each of which functions in a slightly different way.
#1: Mixing Valve
One of the oldest types of shower valves out there is called the mixing valve. This is generally considered to be the predecessor of both thermostatic and pressure balance valves. You might recognize this type of valve when you take a look at your shower and you see two separate knobs, one for the hot cold water and one for the hot water. In other words, you have to adjust both knobs to the right positions in order to mix the water to a level that suits you.
This means that you might have to fiddle with those knobs a whole lot before you achieve the right water temperature. The flow is fairly easy to control here, but with that being said, this type of shower valve doesn’t really have any protection for sudden pressure changes. In other words, if someone flushes the toilet and you have one of these mixing valves in your shower, your shower isn’t going to get any cold water and you might very well get scalded. Due to this risk of being scolded, this type of shower mixing valve is generally not installed in newer homes.
2. Diverter Valve
The next type of shower valve that you need to know about is the diverter valve. Some people might call this a bathtub valve because it is the specific type of shower valve that allows you to redirect the water from the shower to the bathtub faucet. Technically speaking, it’s the type of faucet or valve that allows you to redirect the water from the tub to the showerhead.
What is important to know here is that there are actually three different types of diverter shower valves. Take a look below for a quick explanation of those:
- Tee valve: This is the type of valve that you will usually see when there is a showerhead connected to a bathtub tab. Here you will see a little knob or lever that you pull upwards on the bathtub faucet when you pull the knob upwards, it closes the valve to the tub and opens up the one leading to the showerhead. Here you would usually let water out of the bathtub faucet first to achieve the right water temperature and then divert the water to the showerhead.
- Two-valve diverter: This type uses two rotating knobs. One of the knobs adjusts the temperature and the other is used to divert water from the top to the shower. This means that you could technically have a little bit of water coming out of both fixtures.
- Three-valve or triple knob diverter: Here you will see two knobs that are designed to control the temperature, one of which is for hot water and one of which is for cold water, and a third nob which is used to change the water flow from the tub faucet to the showerhead.
3. Transfer Valve
The next type of shower valve that you need to know about is the transfer valve and this is by far the most advanced type of shower valve out there. The reason why we say that it is the most advanced type of shower valve is that they usually always come with digital controls as well as many electronic features and programs.
This makes it much easier to set both the water flow and the temperature. However, the biggest advantage that you get with this type of shower valve is the fact that you can actually have two fixtures running at once, or in other words, you can have both the tub faucet and the showerhead running at the same time. Do, of course, keep in mind that this type of shower valve is quite expensive.
4. Pressure Balance Valve
In newer homes, one of the most common types of shower valves is the pressure balance shower valve, often called the mechanical shower valve or an anti-scald shower valve. As you can probably tell by the name, the main advantage of this type of shower valve is that it balances the water pressure on its own.
So, if somebody flushes the toilet, the shower valve can recognize this and will automatically reduce the amount of hot water coming to the system, so you don’t get scolded. The downside with this type of shower valve is that generally speaking, there is only one knob that controls both the temperature and the water flow. Remember that older homes with old pipes might not be durable enough to handle this type of shower valve.
5. Thermostatic Shower Valve
The fifth and final type of shower valve that you need to know about is the thermostatic shower valve. This type of shower valve contains a special element on the inside that contracts and expands depending on the water temperature. In other words, the main point of this type of shower valve is to regulate the temperature automatically.
One of the other main advantages of thermostatic shower valves is that they most often come with two knobs, one to control the water flow and one for the temperature. Moreover, this type of shower valve tends to be better at protecting you from being scalded by hot water than the pressure balance valve is.
How to Identify the Type of Shower Valve You Are Using
With the types out of the way, let’s provide you with a list of tips to help you identify the type of shower valve that you are using:
- You first want to look at the shower handle right at the center of the trim plate, because here you will find the manufacturer’s symbol. If you can manage to find the serial number of your specifics, faucet, and valve then you should have no trouble finding out what kind it is.
- The next thing that you need to do is to assess how many handles that the shower in question has. As you can tell from our descriptions of all five types of shower valves above, what type you have is going to determine how many handles you have.
- You then need to assess how many fixtures you have in your shower. Do have just a showerhead, just a bathtub faucet, or do you have a bathtub faucet and showerhead combination? Of course, if you have a combination faucet and showerhead then you will have either a transfer or a diverter valve.
- Another good thing that you can try doing here is to flush the toilet while the shower is on. If the shower water goes really hot then you can rest assured that you do not have any kind of modern valve that regulates temperature or water pressure.
- Once you have figured out all of these different factors based on the criteria that we have provided above, when we reviewed the five different types of shower valves, you can now figure out exactly what type of valve you have.
Now that you know everything there is to know about the different types of shower valves you can get to identifying the specific type you have, and you can also make a well-informed decision in terms of the next one you purchase.