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Shower Fixtures

February 19, 2013 |

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We are DIYing our moms a Duplex in Alaska! Check out our progress so far as we owner build a home, step by step. Read the Momplex blog here.

posted by Ana White

But I thought I had another few weeks before I had to start making real decisions!

For those of you following along on the Momplex, you know we've been in mechanical stage, and the Momplex doesn't change much from day to day, with the expection of more wires and pipes and tubing being pulled through walls and floor joists. If anything, the Momplex looks like we take a step backward every day, with more and more stuff being threaded through the walls. These modern houses are certainly high tech, aren't they?

But last week, the Ram said, I need shower fixtures. And I said, you mean the fittings, not the actual shower head and knob right?

Uh, wrong. It all comes as a kit, and you need the kit before the walls are enclosed in drywall. Although a non-commital person like myself may imply that we will have an access panel so I could decide on oil rubbed bronze instead of satin nickel ... I said may.

Shower Fixtures

On our house, I chose beautiful oil rubbed bronze shower fixtures during construction, and didn't quite think through the future of matching ever single fixture in the house to oil rubbed bronze .. back when it was a trendy, new color. I eventually just gave up and started mixing different metal finishes, and kinda like it. But for the Momplex, I'm going with classic satin nickel. It's easy and it's classic and matches everything.

Shower Fixtures

We have the showers set up so the fixture is inside the wall between the washer/dryer nook. Just in case there is every a problem, we can place an access panel over the back to make repairs if needed.

It's also easier to work on with the two showers back to back.

Shower Fixtures

I swear the hardest part of this whole process was determining the right size hole to drill in the shower. We went with the prefab showers just because Mom's going to be 100 years old living in the Momplex, and we want the lowest maintenance, easiest to clean amenities for her. Trust me, expensive tile isn't pretty when it's covered in gunk or is framed in dirty grout thirty years later.

The instructions didn't say how big of a hole to drill, and once you drill a whole, if it's too big, you just are plain out of luck. And if it's too small, it's really difficult to start a bigger hole without a center point for the whole saw.

Shower Fixtures

Let's hope we got this one right.

Notice we've also drilled a small hole at the top of the shower for the shower head itself.

Shower Fixtures

Now for the fixture itself. This is the main mixing valve that goes in the wall behind the shower. It pulls water from the hot and cold, mixes it, and disperses it to the tub or shower.

It's got four inlets/outlets - one for hot, one for cold, one for the shower and one for the tub. Can you see where it says tub?

Since this is just a shower, we have to block that one off.

Shower Fixtures

It's threaded, so you just wrap it in thread seal tape

Shower Fixtures

And tighten

Shower Fixtures

That seals off the tub.

Shower Fixtures

Now we have to prepare the ends of the hots and colds for our tubing. We need to add elbows so the hots and colds can come up through the floor, make a 90, and then go into the mixing valve.

Shower Fixtures

We'll be soldering these fittings, so it's not as simple as wrap in thread seal tape and tighten. This stuff is soldering flux.

Shower Fixtures

It's crucial part of soldering, pulling the solder inside the joint when heated.

Shower Fixtures

Between the fittings, we need small pieces of pipes cut to connect the fittings.

Shower Fixtures

Those are cleaned and and prepped

Shower Fixtures

And fit together.

Then we add the fittings to attach the tubing too.  Notice we've also added a fitting at the top (bottom left corner) for water to be sent to the shower head.

Time to put some heat to it!

First you heat the joints up with a blow torch.

You get it to just the right temperature

And then bring in the solder.  Can you see the silver solder at the joints?

The solder is pulled into the joints

And seals them up.

Once the shower mixing valve is soldered and cools off, it's time to install it in the shower.

We place a 2x4 behind the hole cut in the center of the shower for mounting the mixing valve to.

The mixing valve is placed in the opening, against the 2x4 on the back side.

This way we can make sure the mixing valve is placed exactly center in the opening.  Then it's just screwed to the 2x4 through the front.

We also have to mount the shower valve up top.

The opening for the shower is much smaller, so we attach it first to another 2x4 block

And attach that to the studs in the wall behind the shower.

Then we can screw the shower head arm on

And the showers are done!  We will still need to add the decorative plates and the shower head, but that comes after we finish up drywall and flooring.  Cannot wait for that!

So have you installed a shower before?  Have you done a tiled in shower?  Would love to hear about your experiences as well!

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birdsandsoap's picture

woohoo! Great progress, it's

woohoo! Great progress, it's almost drywalling time! So nice to start from scratch. We just remodeled our bathroom last summer and added an extra deep soaker tub. Because of the size of the new tub, the old plumbing fixtures are slightly off center to the new tub...Drives me nuts! I just want to break down the wall and shift the plumbing 2" to the right, ugh!

posted by birdsandsoap | on Tue, 2013-02-19 16:28
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Lady Goats's picture

I'm with Jenny!

"WOOHOO!!!!"

I know you feel like all this work has nothing to show, but it's super exciting for us to see all of the "behind the scenes"!!!!! YAY!

Thanks for sharing!

Gina - Lady Goats
DIY Blogger (when I'm not procrastinating)
http://www.ladygoats.com

posted by Lady Goats | on Tue, 2013-02-19 16:56

Making Larger Holes

If you want to cut a larger hole with a hole saw, put a wood spacer in the bottom of the larger hole saw and nest the smaller, original, size hole saw inside.

posted by Techmonkey | on Tue, 2013-02-19 17:31
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Grab bars?

Ana - Considering the plan for "aging in place", where are the grab bars going?

Did you put blocking behind the showers?

posted by Tsu Dho Nimh | on Tue, 2013-02-19 20:44

Tub Spout

Might be too late, but maybe a thought for next time. We've recently come across the idea of putting a tub spout in the shower (when there's no tub in the home) so that you can have a low-to-the-ground high volume water spout for filling buckets, etc. It had never occurred to us before b/c we have tubs now, but it's something we filed away for our "forever" home we plan to build one day.

btw, I've really enjoyed reading these MomPlex posts...I've spent the last several nights at work reading thru ALL of them! I was hooked as soon as I began reading the first post. I'm a very visual person and I love how you incorporate pictures, often with "one liners" underneath to narrate the whole project. Plus you have a fabulous sense of humor about all the oops' that do come up! Thanks so much for keeping this blog. I look forward to watching you finish up the MomPlex!

posted by lovenbugs | on Wed, 2013-02-20 01:56
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Ana White's picture

Man, I should run everything

Man, I should run everything by you all before we make any decisions! I love the idea of the tub spout and didn't even think of it - yes, it would have been super handy to have one of those for filling buckets up or just washing your feet. Darn it! Wish you all weren't so smart!!!

Tsu - uh, duh - how did we over look that! Thank you for watching out for us, up to add some blocking in right now!

Thank you all for reading on and keeping us going! I'm not telling on anyone, but I did spot one hardworking man in carhartts with a tiny smile reading your comments :) Thank you!

posted by Ana White | on Wed, 2013-02-20 15:11
clips

And by the toilets too!

Remember the grab bars by the toilets for getting on and off the "throne". too.

My SO has had several leg injuries and surgeries and it made life much easier for him to be able to use arm strength when the leg was either painful or not working at all.

posted by Tsu Dho Nimh | on Wed, 2013-02-20 18:48

Water leak test

Did you leak test yet, i came across a problem when doing the same thing. The diverter has rubber seals and when you solder with everything connected to it, you may melt them. I found that soldering evrything first then screw it to diverter now with a few inches of buffer space you can connect to the main plumbing pipes without it melting.

posted by Quintin79 | on Fri, 2013-02-22 11:59
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Ana White's picture

We do a pressure test next

We do a pressure test next and we got really frusturated because all of the solder joints passed at 100 PSI but the teflon taped ones all had to be redone .... so bummed! We ended up regretting not soldering all the joints -I'll get that post up next week. Good idea on protecting the diverter from heat! Will keep in mind!

posted by Ana White | on Fri, 2013-02-22 12:54
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AKBruce's picture

plumbing hints

I would have predicted the teflon tape on the threaded coupler to fail, since you soldered after, and as Quintin79 mentioned, the heat will mess up rubber (usually viton) seals in valves, as well as teflon tape joints. When you sweat (solder) pipes, don't hold the solder in the flame. Heat the joint, then pull the flame away and rub the solder against it, so you KNOW it's getting sucked in properly. Too late now, but a 'B' tank with acetylene makes it way easier than a map gas torch, and is far less bulky to use.
Now- your pex stuff. Why did you not just buy the manifolds? So much cheaper in the end, when you figure the labor of making them. Also, why didn't you use red and blue tubing, to color code the hot and cold?
Last- don't forget your hammer arrestors! : )

bruce

posted by AKBruce | on Fri, 2013-04-05 00:36
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Kathen's picture

Thanks for the info!

Thank you, Ana, for showing this shower installation, and thank you to everyone for the useful comments!
I need to re-do my own shower, as the blocking to hold it secure seems to be let go/missing, and I fear all that is holding up my shower pipes behind the wall is the copper pipes themselves.
I was so hoping to just use the pex fittings for everything. I take it that's not possible? It would be cost-effective for me, as I could do it myself and not call a plumber. I don't solder, and don't intend to learn to do it around the flammable 2x2's of my mobile home...any advice would be so appreciated...

posted by Kathen | on Fri, 2013-05-10 14:02

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