How Does a Thermostatic Shower Faucets & Systems Work?
Showers are now the focal feature of most modern bathrooms, thanks to their ease of use and versatility, not to mention their mobility benefits. Given the many shower types on the market, homeowners are at a loss when it comes to choosing the perfect shower for their bathroom. If you’re trying to find a shower head with the most reliable setup, then the thermostatic shower, hands down, takes the day.
Being a lesser-known design, the thermostatic shower is a mixer shower that feeds through the property’s hot and cold-water supply. It comes with an internal valve that mixes hot and cold water.
Are they more efficient than the manual ones? —Should you settle for thermostatic shower valves in your bathroom? The answer is absolutely yes! We’ve made this complete guide to help you understand what a thermostatic shower is, how it works, and so much more.
Read on, and learn why a thermostatic shower valve is your best investment yet!
What Is a Thermostatic Shower?
Before delving into its system, we must first start understanding the thermostatic shower head. Basically, it’s a shower that automatically maintains the perfect temperature control without any action on your part—other than just setting it.
It works with three main shower head systems, including the main feds hot water systems and the combi-boiler systems. These two are notoriously popular since they can easily disrupt the flow of water by the actions of other people.
Gravity-feds water systems are sometimes seen as dependable, but even with them, this problem occurs. Therefore, a thermostatic shower valve or pressure balance valve is usually installed in these showers to offer an extra net of safety to avoid scalding.
How Does the Thermostatic Shower Works?
It’ll use the thermostatic valve to mix hot and cold water and feeds it in the correct ratio into the shower head to get a constant temperature for a relaxing shower. It also has a link between the water pressure and water temperature that ensures a steady flow of water. They’ll also shut down automatically when they notice that the cold-water supply is below the safe level.
It’s important to note that thermostatic showers are not electric showers—what are the distinguishing factors between the two showers? Let’s find out!
What's the Difference Between a Thermostatic and an Electric Shower?
Basically, thermostatic showers store water from the main supply line, then mix hot water with the hold water so that you’re able to get the desired temperature. On the other hand, electric showers will take cold water from the main supply line, then heat the cold water to get a constant temperature.
In other words, thermostatic showers work the same way mixer taps do, while electric showers work the same way as your ordinary kettle that comes with its own heating element for maximum output temperature.
How It Works: Thermostatic Shower Valves
As stated earlier, the thermostatic showers use valves to provide an extra layer of protection as far as scalding is concerned. The thermostatic shower valve has four main parts for it to work appropriately. They include temperature control, the return spring, the piston, and the thermostatic element.
Some versions have more elements, like the diverter, which allows more options when it comes to outlets. As the name suggests, the temperature control allows you to set the shower to your desired temperature. While your water starts flowing, the temperature element will measure of water; then, the thermostatic valves react to it accordingly.
When hot water gets hotter, the temperature element will expand, and the thermostatic valve will expand as it continues to get hotter. The temperature element may also regulate the piston and the return spring.
How does that look like? —moving across the hot and cold-water portals controlling their temperature. When the temperature rises above the safe level, the thermostatic element expands to the point that covers the hot portals.
Now that you know something about the thermostatic shower valve and how it regulates your shower temperature.
Let’s look at what a shower valve does, plus different types on the market.
Pressure Balance vs. Thermostatic Valves
These are the primary shower types on the market. They’re quite different in terms of functionality. Let’s look at some of their distinctions.
- Pressure Balance Shower Valves: Unlike the thermostatic shower valve, the pressure balance valve has one handle that tries to control the temperature and volume of water. It will balance out the ratio of hot and cold water by sensing the pressure ratio coming from your fixture. When you flush your toilet tank, there’s either a sliding disc on a spool that’ll react to changes in the valve, which in turn balances the water pressure.
- Thermostatic Shower Valves: In contrast to the pressure balance shower valve, the thermostatic valve has two handles—one for temperature control and the other for the volume of water.
While a pressure balance valve is convenient as it prevents scalding due to sudden changes in water pressure, but the thermostatic valve is more efficient in terms of consistency and customization of water temperature.
What are the Types of Thermostatic Shower Valve?
Once you’ve decided to settle on the thermostatic shower valve for your fixtures, you’ll notice that they come in different types. Here are some of them.
This type is easy to install and may be among the reason why it’s popular among many homeowners. The shower valve is made of brass and ABS plastic for extra durability. This thermostatic shower valve is easy to use, as you’re able to adjust the temperature of your water as you go. A good example is the LittleGrass thermostat mixing valve; it comes with a knob that adjusts water temperature and flow of water.
The concealed shower valve is yet another type you can opt for. Known for their durability and minimalism, the concealed thermostatic shower valve will fit nicely in your modern bathroom. The shower valve is installed underneath the wall, and the only exposed part of it is the adjustable knob.
The best type on the market is the Kohler Master Shower Thermostatic Valve. It’s made of brass, therefore rustproof. You, therefore, should expect a decent lifespan.
Another type of thermostatic valves is the exposed valve. It’s definitely a game changer as far as improving the aesthetic of your bathroom is concerned. The exposed thermostatic shower valves have a designer look that can make the appearance of any bathroom superb.
The installation process is super easy as they’re placed on the outside of your wall. Moreover, they’re quite affordable. Hansgrohe Thermostatic Trim is the perfect example of exposed thermostatic shower valves.
It has a knob that allows you to adjust the temperature of your water. The plate is small and may not occupy a lot of space.
Can Buy A Thermostatic Valve for Over-bath Showers?
The answer is yes!
But you’ll still have to get a diverter to enable you to switch between your shower and the bath taps easily. You also get thermostatic taps to get a wholesome showering experience. The thermostatic taps are kind of similar to the mixer taps, but the thermostatic taps will adjust the water temperatures and maintain it at your desired level.
Now, let’s see how you install thermostatic shower valves onto your existing shower head.
How to Fit a Thermostatic Shower
After buying thermostatic shower valves to regulate hot and cold-water temperature portals, the next phase is fitting. If you already have a mixer shower plus a separate pipe for your shower, then you must shut off the stopcock.
This is done to isolate the water supply and get rid of water from your pipes.
Decide the Area You'll Store Your Hot and Cold-Water Supply
For people who are installing their thermostatic shower valve above their bath, then they’ll easily tee into their bath tap. However, if you have a cubicle, you’ll need to tee the thermostatic shower valve into the nearest water pipe for the best shower temperature.
The water pipes are usually underneath the floor.
Run the hot and cold-water pipes towards the shower
Once you’ve shut off the main water supply, you can now get your hands dirty.
Start by running the pipework toward your shower. Keeping checking the thermostatic valve manually to ensure you place the cold and hot water supplies in the right position. It is imperative to note that your hot water supplies should always be on the left side.
Working with plastic piping is somewhat efficient. You’ll be able to easily position them under your floorboards or up your stud wall. Won’t the plastic pipe deform through use or heat?
Great question! But the answer is no; just use pipe inserts in between the joints, and you’re good to go. You might as well incorporate copper inserts at each joint, as they’re easy to tighten up.
Make sure you incorporate shut-off shower valves on the hot or cold-water pipes. Turn on the water supply on to check for potential leaks. Moreover, you can add stop ends of each pipe.
Flush the Pipe
Undoubtedly, your thermostatic valves can become damaged by dirt from water flowing through it. You, therefore, need to flush the new pipework. Do this while checking for leaks.
Get rid of stop ends on the pipe and allow water to run through them. Place a bucket under it to catch any dirt.
Marking and Cutting the Pipes
After flushing, hold the new shower valve next to the outlet pipes. Using a pencil while the concealed valve is flat against the wall, mark the quantity of pipe—hot or cold- to ensure the concealed valve stays in position during flushing.
The process is done before installing your tiles and wall panels. You can then cut off the extra piping.
Once you’ve estimated the right pipe measure, you can go ahead and drill holes to attach your thermostatic shower valve. Make sure you mark areas where the shower valve will sit, plus its screw points, before drilling. Ensure you get a diamond-tipped driller for the best results.
Fit a Compression Olive
For your thermostatic shower to maintain your desired water temperature, it has to be tightened with a seal. Get a compression olive, better known as collapsible olive. Put them in each outlet and screw with a retaining nut for all of them.
Arrange the Thermostatic Valve
The most important step in the fitting process is aligning the thermostatic valve with the hot and cold-water pipes. It’s imminent they fully slide into the pipes. Afterward, you can screw them in position using the retaining nut.
Fill in the Rest of the Shower
After fitting the valve, you can then fill in the rest of the shower. Once everything is fitted, check if the valve is working efficiently by confirming the shower temperature.
Improve your Shower Experience
No one likes sudden changes in temperature while showering. Thanks to thermostatic valves, showering has become a wholesome experience.