It seems we have setback after setback.

We had planned on finishing the bath tub and shower this weekend so we can finally shower again on Sunday. To say the least, we did not make that goal. I had noticed earlier, that the shower/tub faucet only had hot water and not cold. So I test it out, turning on/off the lines, etc without success. I was dismayed, Serena was upset. No shower this past weekend.

Maybe I should have tested the valve before installation, and before all the walls, cement board, and tile went up. Doh!

Today, I was in the process of removing the radiator in the adjacent room to get to the tub/shower access panel (stupid how they put a radiator in front of it), but it was just too darn difficult to move (without breaking anything). They probably used some crazy pipe joint compound like Rector Seal (it’s a true product - I’ll blog about it in a future post).

So I try to access the shower valve from the inside. I had to chip out some cement board and tile, since I was not very generous on the shower valve holes. After drilling and then chipping the rest away with a cold chisel, I gain access to the water shutoffs and the mixing valve.

open access

As I was taking apart the mixing valve, I got sprayed with cold water. A good sign, since I had turned hot water off, but I got wet. After playing around, I got the mixing valve/stem out. Apparently the mixing valve was not letting cold water mix with the rest of the water. A chamber was blocked. Looking at the picture, you can see the rubber O-rings separate the mixing valve into 4 chambers - 1 for cold inlet, 1 for hot inlet, 1 to mix cold, 1 to mix hot.

mixing valve

I tried to Google “anatomy of shower valves” with no luck. They show me the entire valve, and point to the “anti scald” part. I could not find how the anti-scald part worked. I even watched a “This Old House” video on changing an old valve to an anti-scald shower valve (which is definitely a good idea if you have an old shower valve). I probably did not know my terminology this morning, but I do now. I knew something was blocked (I could see the blockage), but I did not know exactly how it was supposed to work. I even thought about drilling a hole through blockage. I did not do that.

So off to the local plumbing supply warehouse to ask them about this (and to buy other stuff), but they were unfamiliar with this brand. So then I go to big box hardware chain store. And “Dick” in plumbing tells me to just use some CLR (calcium, lime, and rust remover) to “loosen” the valve. The inner chamber is suppose to move freely. You can see the inner chamber in the picture. This is the “pressure balancing” system that modern shower valves use these days to prevent scalds.
mixing valve examined
I soaked the valve stem for 15 minutes and used a screwdriver to pry it loose. After a clean rinse, the O-rings put back on, and the valve stem installed, VOILA. Now, the shower works! And I even got the original faucet tub in as well (which was a big hassle - that I’m not going to write about tonight). The missus is happy. Yeah, happy ending.


As a side note, we inherited the Pegasus showerhead, lever and tub faucet from our good friend Jona. Brandy new, these cost approximately $200, but we got it for free! Thanks Jona.