Replacing Shower Tub Faucets

If your bathroom renovations include replacing shower tub faucets, here are some basic things you'll need to know.

Shower faucet installation always looks easy in the "how-to" books and TV shows, but as any handyman knows, your job is never like the ones on TV.

The first thing you'll need is access to the shower faucets. Many homes have an access panel in the room or closet behind the shower. By removing the panel, you'll have easy access to the shower faucets from behind.

If your home doesn't have an access panel, you might want to consider installing one. If your shower backs up to a closet, than you can cut a hole through the wall in the back of the closet and install an access panel, available from any plumbing supply, hardware or home center store.

If your home doesn't have an access panel and you're not able to install one, you will need to remove the portion of the wall around the shower faucets. If your bathroom renovations are extensive, this may not be a problem as you'll be replacing the tile anyway. If you weren't planning on replacing the tile, you will at least have to patch the area around the shower faucets, so you might want to make sure you can source tile that matches before going any further.

Once you've exposed the pipes, removal and installation should be as easy as following the instructions that come with your new faucet. Once again, however, there are a few things that can prevent it from being quite that easy.

The most common problem in older homes is the discovery of galvanized steel pipes. Depending on the age of your home, these pipes may be badly corroded and will need to be replaced with copper. If your galvanized pipes are in good condition, this may not be necessary and you can proceed.

If you're working with galvanized pipes, you'll discover that unlike plastic and copper pipes, the ends are threaded. This means that instead of cutting and soldering a new section in, you'll need to preserve the threads. Unscrew the union fittings and when replacing, be sure to use plumbers tape on the threads before joining and tightening.

If your old shower faucet has separate hot and cold handles, you may want to replace these with a single mixer. Each manufacturer is a little different so follow the instructions that come with your new faucet. If you're working with a fiberglass or acrylic one-piece tub or shower surround, you will need to drill a new hole and cover the old holes with cover plates available at plumbing supply, hardware stores and home center stores.

So depending on your situation, access panel or no access panel, tile or fiberglass shower surround, single mixer or double fixtures, galvanized pipes or copper, you can otherwise count on following the instructions that come with your replacement faucet.

Consult your plumbing supply or home center store to determine your best replacement options if you're not sure.

And remember, improvements made to your bathroom or kitchen provide the highest rate of return on investment when you sell your home-so it's worth any extra effort to do it right!

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