On May 18th I wrote a post about pressure balance shower valves. A plumbing tutorial is not complete without a discussion of thermostatic shower valves. So, once again, I will try to demystify the terminology and give you the tools to create the ultimate showering experience.

If you recall, the pressure balance shower system is a simple budget conscious installation. The thermostatic shower valve can be a “bells and whistles” installation to include a hand shower, body sprays or spray bars, and an overhead shower and perhaps even a second head.

There are actually 2 types of thermostatic shower valves (originally used in manufacturing where precise temperatures were required). The differences are apparent in their appearance, not in their function. The concealed valve has the internal workings, called the “rough”, hidden behind the finished wall. The exposed thermostatic valve has the rough outside the finished wall covered in decorative trim.

The concealed or exposed valve automatically CONTROLS and ADJUSTS the TEMPERATURE of the WATER. The temperature of the water is factory preset at 100 degrees (a nice hot shower). The valve itself measures the temperature of the water and mixes the hot and cold water to the desired, preset temperature. The valve does not make hot water, but increases or decreases the flow of hot or cold water to deliver the set temperature. (NOTE: The contractor is responsible for testing the water. If it is not 100 degrees at the limit stop, he must calibrate it using a thermometer).

It is important to note here that the thermostat is merely a TEMPERATURE SETTING DEVICE. In order to operate the shower you have to have what is called a “wall valve”. This valve turns the water on and off and regulates the flow of water. So if you want an all out, full throttle shower you have to have good water pressure (just as you do with a pressure balance valve) and a system that has been carefully laid out by your architect or sales consultant with the right number of wall valves for the various functions.

This is a system that requires installation by a professional plumbing contractor. There are detailed instructions that clearly describe the installation process and testing for temperature accuracy. While I am not a mechanic for sure, I know that the shower will work ONLY if the hot water is fed to the left hand inlet.

I have included diagrams so you can imagine the shower that you want, from one using a single head and hand shower to one that has several different sources of water. Remember, you only install a shower once so imagine the experience at your favorite spa and include as many of those features at home as possible. Do it once and do it right!!

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