What Is a Shower Valve Assembly?

B. Turner

A shower valve assembly is a plumbing device used to control the operation of a bathroom shower. This device regulates the flow, pressure and temperature of the water as it exits the shower head. The valve includes components mounted to the surface of the shower or wall, as well as components hidden inside the wall cavity. Shower valve assemblies range from simple, budget units to elaborate designs that can cost more than a bathtub or toilet. Many common problems with leaks or water pressure can be remedied by simple repairs to the shower valve assembly.

A shower head.
A shower head.

Regardless of design, each shower valve assembly is made up the same basic parts. This includes some type of handle, which allows the user to turn on the water and adjust pressure and temperature. The handle connects to the home's hot and cold water supply via some form of plumbing valve, and is soldered to the pipes inside the walls. Decorative trim or finish surrounds the handle on the surface of the shower wall, giving the assembly a clean, neat appearance. Some of these assemblies come with matching shower heads, while others are sold as separate units.

Some shower valve assemblies come with matching shower heads, while others are marketed as separate units.
Some shower valve assemblies come with matching shower heads, while others are marketed as separate units.

Shower valve assemblies may feature a variety of controls and features. Some include a simple handle that can be oriented in one direction for hot water, or in the other direction to add cold water. Others feature two separate handles, with each handle responsible for operating either the hot or cold water supply. Only by adjusting both of these valves can one achieve the desired mix of hot and cold. These handles also adjust the flow and pressure of the water by opening or closing the valve attached to the water pipes within the wall.

Like many plumbing fixtures, shower valves are often chosen to match other accessories in the bathroom. For example, homeowners with brass hardware and plumbing fixtures will choose a brass shower valve assembly to create a visually pleasing finish. Some other common finishes for these fixtures include chrome, stainless steel, copper, or bronze. Buyers can also choose between polished and matte, or brushed finishes.

Homeowners who experience leaks or other problems with a shower valve assembly may wish to change out the valve to improve performance. Others may choose to upgrade the valve simply to improve aesthetic appeal. Depending on shower design and valve type, this is often a fairly simple job that requires only basic skills and experience. Some valves may be more complex, and require some basic plumbing and soldering skills.

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