Sometimes when “remodeling” a bathroom, you want to leave most fixtures intact, unless they are broken or are in poor shape. It’s costly and time consuming to change plumbing / electrical fixtures, and many homeowners are unable or should not do it themselves.
Here is what happened to me: I was replacing shower liners, and the old valve handle was frozen to the valve – I could not remove it.
So I used Sawzall to cut it in half and finally took it off. So now, I had access to the valve, and could install the wall liner. But, I noticed a small drip from the valve. I tried to take it apart and change the gasket – but great unsuccess.
PRO-TIP: When considering a new Bathroom Shower Valve – recommendation of most plumbers is to go with time-tested Symmons valve. You may be tempted to go with a more “stylish” Delta or Moen, but those are more prone to break down, and parts are expensive and hard to find.
Symmons valves are made in Quincy, MA, USA, and parts are readily available in every Home Depot, Lowe’s, and most other home improvement stores, as well as online. Most Symmons valves have interchangeable parts, due to identical internal design.
Heavy duty brass construction of Symmons valves has decades of proven track record for being reliable and easy to work with, and Symmons is the most recommended brand of shower valves by most plumbers, due to its reliability.
Check for yourself – go to any Plumbing supply parts store (not the showroom), and ask the plumbers there!
Lo and behold – I realized that it’s not worth trying to fix it, as there was a risk that the valve will start leaking later, and then it would be a much bigger mess.
So I went to Home Depot and got (by chance) supposedly the best valve on the market (according to the guy at a local plumbing supply) – Simmons (US made).
But to put it back I would have to solder 4 pipes in a very cramped space, which could easily lead to a fire. So I decided to use BRASS PUSH FITTINGS by Blue Hawk. I already used these before to repair heating pipes.
NOTE: Using push fittings is NOT the recommended way, and you should always solder/braze your valve in, if possible. It may also be against building code to do so. I used push fittings, as I was not comfortable soldering the valve in a tight space, due to risk of starting a fire.
If you are not comfortable soldering copper pipes, we strongly recommend getting a licensed plumber to do it for you. It is also illegal in many jurisdictions for homeowners to do their own plumbing work.
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BRASS PUSH FITTINGS VIDEO
The push fittings are made to connect Copper to PEX tubing without any crimping or soldering – awesome! I did not have to hire a plumber or buy an expensive crimping set. And after testing them for leaks, the results were amazing.
Also Blue Hawk push fittings are made in the UK, which gives me a sense of quality. I would gladly buy a US made product, but I could not find any! The Home Depot brand is a US company, but it does not say on the package where they are made (so I assume China), which is a BIG turn-off.
Basically, the way push fittings work – you just get an appropriate size / configuration part (1/2″ or 3/4″ to 1/2″, straight or elbow, etc.) and stick it in either copper pipe or pex tubing, all the way in, tight. That’s it. No need to solder! No leaks, no mess, no fire.
For my shower I used two 90 degree elbows (for water inlets), and one straight push fitting to connect a shower head pipe. The bathtub outlet I soldered separately, in a kitchen sink, which turns out to be super safe for soldering.
I made sure that the inlet pipes are the same length (so that the new valve would be more or less level, and connections would be straight) and installed the valve – all in all it took me 1.5 hours of work, and 2 trips to the Home Depot – the second was for a missing male adapter for a tub outlet.
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INSTALLING A SHOWER VALVE VIDEO
If you must know – these push fittings cost about $7 each. You would need 3 or 4 of these for a similar job. However, the time saved greatly compensates the price difference with regular copper elbows. Also, you would save about $300 on hiring a plumber to do this job!
The valve was about $135 + tax. I figured that it’s better to pay once for a good valve than twice for a crappy valve and deal with removing wall panels, redoing the valve and dealing with leaks.
The total cost was about $170 for the valve, push fittings, three 1/2″ male adapters (with screw heads) and 10 foot 1/2″ copper pipe, but I already had all the tools and soldering supplies. If you by new ones, you will spend another $50 on the torch, gas, flux, and solder.
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Thanks for sharing such a nice bathroom design and remodeling ideas in a limited budget. I will have to keep these tips in mind so that I do not spend bunch of money. If you get a nice bathroom in the low budget, you do not need to spend more money.