Published onOctober 4th, 2021
Single Lever vs Three Valve Shower Bodies
Whether you own a single-family home or a large apartment building in New York City, eventually you will have to deal with bathroom problems. One of the most common calls we get at Sanitary Plumbing is a request for help with shower bodies. If you need your shower handles repaired, or if you are thinking about upgrading a bathroom, this is the perfect post for you. We’ll discuss the difference between old-fashioned and more modern types of shower levers and why updating your shower bodies is a smart idea.
Signs Your Shower Handles or Valves Need Replacing
Don’t wait for these warnings
A malfunctioning shower body often prompts property owners or managers to call us for help. Typical signs that shower valves are broken or going bad include:
- Water drips from the tub faucet or shower head even when the handles are turned all the way to the “off” position
- Dripping from the faucet or shower head gets worse over time, turning into a steady stream of wasted water
- Signs of water leaking behind the shower handles: damp spots on the wall or floor behind the bathroom, growth of mold or mildew, boggy or crumbling tiles in the shower
- The shower responds slowly to temperature changes when the handles are adjusted
- Unexpected fluctuations in hot or cold water even when no one has touched the shower handles
These warning signs range from nuisances to high water bills. They all indicate that it’s time to call for help.
The Problem with Dual or Three-Valve Shower Bodies
Be aware of multiple issues
Most people are familiar with these traditional shower valves. There may be two handles or three, depending on the location, with the third handle in the center used as a diverter valve to control whether the water flows from the tub spigot or the shower overhead. Uncontrollable temperature variations are, by far, the greatest hazard with showers that have dual or three-valve shower handles. If the water turns suddenly hot, there’s a risk of scalding.
Children, the elderly, and the disabled have the highest risk of injury from faulty shower bodies that might expose them to scalding hot water. They might not realize the temperature has changed or are unable to get out of the flow of water quickly enough. However, anyone can get burned by a rapid change in water temperature. It only takes a second or two for hot water to cause second-degree burns that could send someone to the hospital.
Even if the handles are working properly, a change in nearby water pressure, such as after someone flushes a toilet, can result in less cold water and more hot water in the shower mix. This is why most building codes suggest swapping outdated handles for a single shower valve regardless of how well they’re working. And if the valves have to be repaired, you should replace them instead.
Single Lever Shower Valves
Go with the safer alternative
A single shower handle uses one valve. There is always a continuous ratio of hot water to cold water, and this eliminates the danger of scalding. It also means no sudden douses of ice-cold water when you or your tenants are rinsing off or enjoying a shampoo in the shower.
There are other benefits to using a single lever shower body. One handle is much easier for everyone in the household to operate, including young kids and seniors. Also, there are fewer parts subject to wear and tear, so you’re not likely to be calling the plumber as often.
Tips for Replacing an Outdated Shower Mechanism
A licensed plumber can do the job quickly and easily
It’s been our experience that many homeowners and landlords put off switching to single lever shower valves because they mistakenly assume the swap entails a lot of mess and expense. However, we’re here to put your mind at ease on the topic, as the job is now fast and painless.
There’s no need to redo all the tile on the wall, for example, just to replace the shower bodies, unless you are already planning a full bathroom renovation. In most cases, a kit can be used to easily convert your dual or three-handled shower into a single lever mechanism.
In many of our clients’ bathrooms, the walls are tile, often in a vintage hue that’s expensive or even impossible to match. You can keep your tile intact; we simply cut a hole in the tile over the entire shower handle area and remove only those tiles immediately surrounding the handles. We cap the old valves to the now-defunct handles and create one center valve for the single handle. To finish off the job, we cover the area of removed tile with a metal plate that houses the single lever in the center.
Of course, if you are remodeling on a larger scale, we can accommodate that too. There are a variety of shower levers available, including luxury thermostatic valves that let users feel like they have a spa in their own bathroom. These are terrific when installed with other luxury elements, such as rain shower heads, built-in benches, and beautiful tempered glass doors. We’re happy to explore options with you that best suit your budget and lifestyle.
Sanitary Plumbing for All Your Bathroom Plumbing Upgrades
Call NYC’s hyper-local blue-chip plumbers
Whether you’re planning a major renovation or simply want to change the shower levers in your property, Sanitary Plumbing should be the first professionals you call. We have served New York City property owners for nearly a century, and we work with properties of all sizes, from single-family homes and duplexes to the largest of the city’s apartment buildings.
Reach out to let us know your needs. You can call us at 212-734-5000, or use our easy online form to schedule an appointment. Don’t wait until someone in your household or one of your tenants has a scalding injury! Get in touch today.