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Thread: Repurposing a 3-way diverter valve

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member kirbyg's Avatar
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    Default Repurposing a 3-way diverter valve

    Hi folks,

    I've been looking for a method to turn off the shower momentarily to save water (I have 5 kids) but all the ones that I've seen are valves that go at the shower head, which is useless to me because my kids can't reach it.

    I've considered plumbing in a 3 way diverter instead of the two way that we've got now, and simply capping one of the outlets. That way the user can turn the diverter to the capped outlet to stop the shower, lather up, and then turn the diverter back to the shower head to rinse. No adjusting of water temperature or flow, just on/off. When they are done the shower, the diverter goes to the tub spout and the water gets turned off..

    Does this seem a valid plan?

  2. #2
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    If you leave the valve open, and then cap the flow, then the hot and cold cross over through the valve and mix in the walls.
    Pretty soon you you hot water to the toilet.

    If you were to try this in an apartment building, it would "cross over" the entire building.
    I sell some shower head set-ups with multiple heads, and when you shut off or divert a head, it weeps a little water to prevent cross over.
    What is wrong with using the faucet and turning off the water while soaping up?

    Last edited by Terry; 05-28-2011 at 12:03 PM.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member kirbyg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    If you leave the valve open, and then cap the flow, then the hot and cold cross over through the valve and mix in the walls.
    Pretty soon you you hot water to the toilet.
    Really? That's interesting. So the same problem would happen if I simply used one of those valves that let me shut off flow at the shower head?

    I'm not talking about leaving it this way, by the way, just using the third capped diverter valve during the shower. When the shower is done, it goes back to the tub spout and the water is turned off properly. Are you saying this problem will occur in a short period of time, or if it was to be left that way for a long time?

    What is wrong with using the faucet and turning off the water while soaping up?
    We have separate hot and cold faucets. Turning the water on and off requires adjusting both faucets to find the right temperature again, which is dangerous for children and inconvenient for everyone. Not useful when you have a head and face full of soap.

    Optimally I'd like a valve that will shut off the shower head with a pullchain, then turn it back on again with another pull, but I've had no luck finding those. The only ones I can find are pull the chain to turn off the water, let go to turn it back on.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    If you're going to "plumb in" something, why not a pressure balanced single handle valve?

    Or, they do make thermostatic valves that are single handle that can be plumbed with separate diverters in the wall. I think a set up like that should cost less then $700.00



    Last edited by Terry; 05-28-2011 at 12:11 PM.

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    For safety of all involved, this would be an ideal time to update the valve to one meeting current anti-scald requirements. You can get a renovation plate to cover the hole made by removing the existing stuff. To make it easier to return to the desired temperature, there are some valves that have separate volume and temperature levers/knobs, or you can go higher buck and get one with a volume and a thermostatically controlled setup. Even the more common single handle job is fairly easy to return to your desired temp from off, but you'd get that cold spurt when going from off to on. Unless you get one with a volume control (which adds a second lever/knob), all the single handle jobs are full on or off, there's no volume control.

    If, for some reason, someone left the divertor in the 'plugged' position you propose, and left the valves on, it would stay in cross-over mode until changed. In a quick glance, since the water would not be running, it would look 'normal'.

    Last edited by Terry; 05-28-2011 at 12:07 PM.
    Jim DeBruycker
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member kirbyg's Avatar
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    Fantastic!

    Thanks for the advice!

    I will stick with the normal way of doing things rather than thinking I've come up with a better mousetrap....

    Your time is much appreciated.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Use a hand held shower with a push button on/off control. It can be mounted on a "slide rail" or multiple wall brackets to match the height of the user(s).

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    DIY Junior Member let it flow's Avatar
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    Regarding the problem of hot-cold crossover in a thermostatic valve:
    Many thermostatic valves are sold which do not have an integrated shutoff or flow control handle. How do they expect the water to be turned off, if not a valve on the outlet pipe? Do these types of themostatic valves also include check valves on each of the hot and cold inlets?

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; I'm not talking about leaving it this way, by the way, just using the third capped diverter valve during the shower. When the shower is done, it goes back to the tub spout and the water is turned off properly

    That is "ideal" behavior, but what happens in the real world is that the user turns the shower off, then, since there is no water flowing, forgets and leaves it that way. Thermostatic valves with no "on/off" function ALWAYS have check stops as part of their construction. In the "old days" diverter spouts did NOT turn off completely so if the customer installed a valve on the shower head the water would continue to drip out of the spout until they turned the faucet off. And, "shower head valves" also "dripped" for the same reason.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    The little shut offs that install at the shower head...by design, they allow a trickle of water to keep flowing, for the reasons explained.

    If you are concerned with the cost of water, or just want to be green...then you have to accept the "new normal" which is the shower is not for playing or soaking. You get in, get washed, get out.

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