View Full Version : Help retrofitting handheld shower onto clawfoot tub spout

07-22-2007, 02:38 PM
We are about to rip apart our main bathroom (that has the only shower in the house) and therefore won't be able to use it during the reno.

Our backup bathroom has a clawfoot tub (no shower) and an angled ceiling, but we *really* want to be able to shower there while the main bathroom is ripped apart.

How would we retrofit some sort of handheld shower onto this clawfoot tub?

This is what the backup bathroom looks like:

and here is a close-up of the spout etc where we'd like to attach the handheld:



07-22-2007, 10:17 PM
Unscrew your tub spout and replace it with one that has the extra fitting for a hand-held shower.

07-23-2007, 12:02 AM
Thanks -- I had no idea such a thing existed.

Here I was thinking that I'd either need to find something to clamp over the spout's opening, or else have the hand shower threaded directly onto the copper stub coming out of the wall.

I'll have to take another look around to see whether I can find one of these.

Thanks again!

08-03-2007, 07:38 PM
Okay, thanks to your help I bought a new spout with diverter and the extra hand-held fitting.

I also got a Delta hand-held shower unit, figuring that it would be well-built.

When the shower is running, there are no leaks.

The problem now is that, whenever I finish using the hand-shower and turn the taps off, the built-in vacuum breaker in the hand-held unit (a code requirement?) lets all the water drain back through its hose and out where the hose fitting screws onto the spout. It's as if this is a designed-in feature of the hose.

Here's what it looks like:

This hose connection point is *outside* of the bathtub and so therefore drains all over the floor and tries to go down where the drain pipe penetrates the floor.

Help! What would you suggest?? Or does this not make sense...


08-04-2007, 01:03 AM
It sounds like the air gap is doing its job. Since your valve setup isn't exactly normal for a claw foot, your best bet is probably going to be to put some kind of extender hose or piece without an air gap into the tub spout and then attach the hand held shower to it, so that the air gap is always inside or just over the tub.

I have never installed one of those tub spout adapter kits, so I totally admit that I am just guessing here, but the method I suggested seems like the most painless route.

08-04-2007, 09:05 AM
Or, just return your hand-held shower and get one without an "air-gap."

08-04-2007, 03:46 PM
It is working as it's supposed to, but unfortuneately, your filler is too far away.

The vacuum breaker is there in case the hand-held spray is left in the tub of water and there is a hiccup in the pressure sucking water into the supply lines that is no longer pure., contaminating it.

08-05-2007, 08:56 AM
Well, I think I've got it fixed (for now).

I bought a replacement (Delta) hose and, for some reason, the replacement does *not* have a vacuum breaker in it. So no more water pouring down the wall whenever the water is turned off :)

I'm not sure why Delta would only put them on some of their hoses...

*** Follow-up question: How would you plug the 1/4" gap between oversized hole cut in the wall and the spout? The person who did the work 10(?) years ago jammed plumber's putty in there and painted it over. Not sure whether I want to duplicate that feat.

Thanks for everyone's help!


08-05-2007, 09:26 AM
You need a vacuum breaker / anti siphon on the handle.
Imagine someone washes the dog...leaves the handle in the tub.
Then several fixtures in the house are opened at the same time as you try to use the handle....you can get a back surge of that dirty dog water in the water supply.
I'm sure you'd rather not be drinking dirty bath water....just a hunch.

Some handles are made without protection because they are intended for use above flood level of the fixtures, example...a hand held shower that can't reach the tub.

08-05-2007, 09:46 AM
Use white silicone caulk to fill that gap between the spout and the wall.

Get a clip to hang the shower head on, and screw it into the wall. Make sure people keep it hanging on the wall and you will avoid the scenario Grumpy just laid out.

08-05-2007, 02:58 PM
Thanks--the hand-held unit came with an adjustable height mounting bar, so it'll have a permanent home on the wall. :)

But here's our next problem...

The only shower curtain hoop we have found at less than $150 is 66" x 28" which is way too long to fit in the area (it runs into the sloped ceiling).

Having a hard time finding a *round* shower curtain hoop (say, 32 - 36") for a reasonable amount. (Most are positioned as high-end items at $500+. We're aiming for less than $150)

Anyone know a good source for these round hoops that won't break the bank?


08-05-2007, 09:03 PM
If it's just temporary, why not make one out of pex or poly pipe. You can make the exact size you need. Then find or make some hangers to suspend it from the ceiling.

Another temporary solution is to cut a 2x4 and wedge it up against the sloped ceiling at the foot of the tub, and install a regular expandable shower curtain rod.

And, If it's just privacy you need, you can buy a shoji room divider for under $100.

08-05-2007, 11:44 PM
They are a weirdly high-end item. If looks matter but only a little, get some aluminum conduit & a bender, make your own.

08-15-2007, 09:48 PM
Now that we've had a chance to try the new set up, we've discovered another problem...

The new spout makes a terrible squeal whenever the handheld shower is in use! Rattling the diverter knob doesn't seem to stop it.

Is this spout just a dud? Or is this a common problem (with a common work-around)?


08-16-2007, 09:24 AM
Usually, loud squeals indicate that the water pressure or water flow is too low. I think it's more a problem with the hand-held than the spout.

Does the hand-held have several positions? If so, try all the positions to see which one lets the most water through.

Does it make the squeal when the hand-held is not hooked up?

08-16-2007, 08:14 PM
Thanks Eric -- you were right.

When both taps are on full, no squeal. When the cold is backed off to make the temperature right, full squeal.

One of the things I'll be doing is replacing the pipes to this 2nd floor bathroom. The guy who plumbed it in 1994 made a lot of really nasty looking solder joints which (based on the excessive pipe noise at certain points) are likely clogged with solder.

Upsizing the pipes and getting the clogs and superfluous bends out should really help boost the flow.

I'll let you know how it goes.