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Thread: Help plumbing a walk in shower please?

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    DIY Member fidoprincess's Avatar
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    Default Help plumbing a walk in shower please?

    Hi, my tile shower is gutted to the studs and now it the time for me to pick out new fixtures. I have a couple of questions if you can help.

    The shower is 4.5 by 3.5 so seems big to me. Since I had to redo the thing because the shower pan failed, I'd like to do something different than just the one shower head on the end. My plumber said he can do whatever I'd like but won't help me pick out and design so...

    Is the shower deep enough to put 2 heads on the short wall facing out with a 3.5ft depth?

    If not, I want to do one at each end but it is all so different picking out things now. All I have now is a threaded pipe sticking out of the top that through the years, I just put new shower heads on myself from Home Depot type stores. The current one is so nice that has a big shower head and a handheld one and I can use either one or both at the same time-good for washing my little kids. Looking at plumbing supply places, all of the sudden this takes a gazillion knobs and handles and you can't use them both at the same time?

    Can you tell me what fixtures/parts/brand to buy? I want each end to have a shower head with a hand held and want to use both at the same time and only need one knob to turn them on and off. (No fancy body sprays etc.) I do need the rough in shower valve but do I need 2? Why are some $80 and others $380 for this valve thing. All I know is I don't want to rip out new tile because I picked a cheap bad one and all my plumber says is Hansgrohe which is very $$$. Just a pole with one shower head was $400 and didn't include the rough valve but it slid up and down and came off-ack.

    Do I ask the plumber to go off the existing line? How is that done to insure enough water pressure to run both showers at the same time? To run the new pipe to the opposite side, is it better to go up over the ceiling or around the wall inside since it already is open?

    Oh and why is the plumber telling me it takes 2 guys 4 hours to just change out the rough mixing valve? Heck, I can see the thing-little triangle piece with a couple copper pipes running in to it-4 hours, 2 guys, really?



    Sorry so long!

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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    I'm doing the same thing in a 3x5 shower, with 45 degree corners on the front side where the shower controls and heads are, so the sprays go up against the back wall. I'm using Moen fixtures; I forget the cost, but they for damn sure weren't $400.

    As for the number of guys, it's easier if you've got a helper, but I've done everything myself. If I had to change out a shower valve, I'd probably take anything from an hour to most of the day, depending on how it was installed in the first place, access, etc., though, so for a couple of guys who know what they're doing maybe 4 hours isn't so bad, but I sure wouldn't want to pay for them!

    If you're really doing everything from scratch, I hope you're doing a Kerdi shower...

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    DIY Member fidoprincess's Avatar
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    Hi Mikey, thanks for your reply.

    Nope, no luck doing the Kerdi Shower, posted on the pros boards looking for help but there are no installers near me. Very few people even heard of it and no places near me sell it. I almost bought it online thinking I could do it myself but realized it was too hard for me alone. I am sick about it but at least I finally found one person that didn't insist on hot mop and feel lucky about that. The tile installer uses the chicken wire bed with mortar like in the olden days!

    My shower is U shaped with the bottom of the U being the long wall. Yours must have a partial front wall too that you put your fixtures on to have them spray at the back wall? I guess mine is too shallow to put them on the back wall without having them spray out.

    Should I get 2 separate mixers to share the one line or do 2 lines? I will look at the Moen, are they good and reliable? I'd had to have to rip out the tile for a valve replacement. Did you get "kits" or buy all your pieces one by one? Do you have a bunch of knobs or just 2, one for each shower? Do you have a handheld? Help-not sure what to pick!

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Read the shower construction info over at www.johnbridge.com. The shower pan needs to be built right, or it will give you a problem. The preslope, liner, setting bed must be correct with no holes, proper slope, etc., and the curb built right. Chicken wire is not the stuff...expanded metal lath is (but it's a lot more nasty to work with!). It's needed over the curb, and in the first layer if the floor is plywood, otherwise, it's not needed there.

    Delta or Moen are good brands that won't cost an arm and a leg. If you always want both showerheads to run at the same time, and don't need to control them individually, you don't need a divertor (which will add to the expense and complexity of installation).

    Often, the rough-in valve and the trim are spec'ed separately (but must be compatible). A 3/4" valve costs more, and is only needed where lots of flow is required. Temperature controlled valves are more expensive than a pressure-balanced valve. If you want a fancy trim in a designer finish, that can get quite expensive...basic polished chrome is the least expensive of the finishes.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Member fidoprincess's Avatar
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    Thank you Jim,
    I "live" at the john bridge forum but they send people here to find out about the plumbing. I'm pretty confident in the guys that are going to do my shower but am sick that I could not get a Kerdi Pro to do that. I know more about tiling showers than I ever wanted and will be watching closely since the shower curb was that part of my pan that failed.

    About the plumbing, I'm getting more focused after reading all the posts. I want to be able to use each end independently and also both at once so I need a diverter but do I still need 2 rough valves. The plumbing is exposed now and consists of a hot and cold copper pipe to the mixer and the shower pipe off of that-must replace that mixer valve for sure since it is 30 years old.

    So...how do I do 2 heads on each end and have enough water? Do I go through the wall with the pipes or overhead? Now I am thinking I could have one side be a straight showerhead, the other side a handheld and maybe do a rainshower in the center ceiling? That's a lot of plumbing but worse, I hate all those knobs on the wall. Can you help me with this? Is there a site that explains and shows plumbing options?

    (By the way, I like chrome just fine. I heard it lasts longer and so far the only thing I bought was a sink and faucet with chrome.)

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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    I think my shower configuration is about the same as yours. Facing it, it's 5' wide and 3' deep, with a 30" glass door in the center. The front corners are filled in so they are 45 degrees to the sides and front. The valves, showerheads, and spouts are on those walls.

    I'd recommend 2 separate valves, on the off chance that your shower buddy wants cold while you want hot. As for the rain-shower head and other fancy features, I can't comment, other than to recommend you do it now, while everything is opened up. You could plumb both valves to the rain-shower head for more volume, with diverter valves. You could make things look like the ballast control panel in a submarine.

    I bought Moen Posi-Temp valves at the orange big-box store; I think they were around $150 each:

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    Each valve is supplied by 1/2" CPVC lines which go overhead to 3/4" manifolds. Plenty of volume for individual showers, but higher pressure (my well bottoms out at 40psi) wouldn't hurt. I use water-saving showerheads which I love but aren't fancy by any means:

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    Last edited by Mikey; 07-23-2008 at 04:15 AM.

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    DIY Member fidoprincess's Avatar
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    Thanks Mikey, That is a smart configuration! Do you design it yourself? Wow, if I could add those 2 extra walls, it would save me big time on the shower door!

    Thanks for the plumbing help. This made me laugh so hard because it exactly the look I am trying to avoid: "ballast control panel in a submarine." I think I will drop the rainshower in the middle and just try and concentrate on doing something nice at both ends. I like the Moen handle, so the valve comes with that part or are they seperate? Now I also know that just because I get the Moen valve doesn't mean I have to get the Moen showerhead-thanks!

    So the existing plumbing is 1/2 inch, will the plumber just come off that to do the second one? Sorry I don't know what this means: "Each valve is supplied by 1/2" CPVC lines which go overhead to 3/4" manifolds" Don't know what a manifold is? I do want 2 seperate controls for the temp:"your shower buddy wants cold while you want hot"-my shower buddy is most often my little kid who says its HOT while I am freezing. I get the distinct idea that it is better for him to run it OVER the untiled ceiling instead of around the tiled walls so if there is a future problem/leak, we won't be pulling the tiles off, right?

  8. #8
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    In order...

    Yes, I designed it and built it myself. Part of the reason for the 45 degree corners was to add rigidity to the shower -- the walls don't go up to the ceiling.

    I just saw the Moen kits (valve, shower head and bath spout) for $152 in Lowe's yesterday. You could probably buy just the valve, but I doubt it'd be any cheaper by itself. It's the Monticello model. I installed the bath spouts even though it's a stand-alone shower. Good for toe-testing the water, filling buckets, and washing dogs.

    My house is plumbed with 3/4" hot and cold lines running the length of the house -- the "manifolds". Individual fixtures are T'd off these lines with 1/2" CPVC. In your case, since there's apparently just one 1/2" line to the shower area, then yes, your plumber will just T off that line to each shower valve.

    Yes, I'd go overhead rather than around the walls. If I ever have a leak it's going to be major construction to get at the pipes (can't get overhead directly). Since it's easy for you to go overhead, you might reconsider dropping the rainshower head. There might be a two-way valve available that you could use to select either the regular showerhead or the rainshower, and that wouldn't look too ugly -- maybe one of the pros could tell you, or you could call Moen customer service -- 800-BUY-MOEN. (Not very subtle, are they?)
    Last edited by Mikey; 07-24-2008 at 08:21 AM.

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Fidoprincess,
    The answer to the shower of your dreams could be as simple as a Moentrol valve with a 3 funtion transfer valve like the one pictured below. It would give you the option of either or, both showerheads being on without having 2 separate valves to operate or, playing with buttons on shower hears. Those showerheads with the buttons do not fully shut off with the button so a head that has the button in the "closed" position will dribble water. There are other trim options for the Moentrol valve. This valve would make your installation a very nice one.http://www.moen.com/products/T4211


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    DIY Member fidoprincess's Avatar
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    Redwood, So would that let me run a rainshower head, a regular showerhead and a handshower all at one time? The only thing it can't do is adjust each to different temperatures? I could live with that if I had to in terms of budget. Or does it only this:1 function: Handshower/ 2 function: Showerhead and 3:both together?

    Would I get enough flow to each having only one valve?

    Also, it seems very $$$-around $570 for just that including the valve with no fixtures yet? Or go the other way and buy 2 separate valves like the one Mikey posted?

    Mikey, We don't have Lowe's in my tiny town-just the big orange one but I worry about buying something there. I am afraid it will be cheap and cost money down the line when I have to rip out the tile to fix it? Plus, they are NO help. (By the way, I wish you could come do mine! Yours sounds so nice.)

    What parts would I need to do my shower like Terry's post here-scroll down to the 5th one.
    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?t=21017
    He has 2 handles and has just what I want-reg showerhead, handheld and rain head in the ceiling.

    If I keep it all on the one side except the rain shower like this, that would save, right? I only budgeted $800-$1000 for the plumbing parts/fixtures, am I waaaay off?

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    I didn't realise that your were talking 2 showerheads and a hand held.
    The one I cited has a 3 function valve (2 outputs, output 1, output 2, or both) I'll look more for you and get back to you later.

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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    If you use Terry's style of layout, you could put in 3 of the cheap valves -- one each for each showerhead (at each shower position), and one for the rainshower (maybe in the middle of the back wall), for under $500.

    I actually bought mine at the orange store, but was in Lowe's yesterday and saw them there as well. I doubt there's any difference in the valves from the 2 stores. Your plumber may be able to get them for you from a "real" supply house at a comparable cost.

    Don't be scared by Moen's list prices on their web site. Their list was $260 for the kits I bought for $150 or so. Again, have your plumber see what he can do for you at his supply house.

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey View Post
    Don't be scared by Moen's list prices on their web site. Their list was $260 for the kits I bought for $150 or so. Again, have your plumber see what he can do for you at his supply house.
    Nobody pays MSRP!

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    DIY Member fidoprincess's Avatar
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    Thanks-yes, the pricing really scared me off. After searching for the moen part Redwood showed me with the valve, I found it as low as $220 on the internet-big difference from the $570!
    But...they are saying delivery time 3 weeks-ack. I need to have everything to go in just one more week! Do you think HD will have something like this in stock or are they just pretty much the single function ones?

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    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    I don't think its a stock item at big box i'd check though.

    Don't rule out a local plumbing supply house that sells Moen!

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