If your shower gets hotter when someone flushes the toilet, it's a good bet that your shower faucet is an older one. Contemporary faucets incorporate pressure-balancing valves to prevent this unpleasant and unwanted scorching sensation. You may be able to convert your existing faucet simply by replacing the cartridge, but if the faucet is an off-brand or two-handled one, you may have to replace it. That isn't a difficult job for a pro, and may be within your purview if you're handy -- but it's messy. You must access the plumbing behind the shower, which means making a hole in the wall.
1. Install Replacement Cartridge
1 Note the manufacturer and model of the faucet, if it's a single-handled one. Look up the model on the manufacturer's website or call a plumbing supply outlet and purchase a pressure-balancing replacement cartridge, if one is available.
2. Install Replacement Cartridge
2 Turn off the water to the shower and remove the handle with a screwdriver or hex wrench. Pull off the temperature limiter, if there is one, and release the cartridge by unscrewing the collar nut with adjustable pliers or pulling a retaining pin with needle-nose pliers.
3. Install Replacement Cartridge
3 Note the cartridge orientation so you can put the replacement in the same way. Pull out the cartridge -- if it's hard to pull, reattach the handle and use that for leverage. Insert the new cartridge, and reassemble the faucet.
4. Install Replacement Cartridge
4 Turn on the water and test the faucet, adjusting the temperature limiter as needed to get comfortably hot water.
5. Replace Shower Valve
1 Cut into the wall behind the shower with a drywall saw to expose the existing valve. If you can't get behind the shower, look for access to the pipes through a closet or a wall in the adjacent room.
6. Replace Shower Valve
2 Remove the handles and outer trim from the old faucet. Turn off the water to the shower and cut out the old valve with a hacksaw or mini pipe cutter. Depending on your new faucet, you may have to cut the pipes back or reroute them slightly. You may also have to adjust the framing so the new valve is the proper distance behind the wall when you attach it.
7. Replace Shower Valve
3 Prepare the valve by screwing the appropriate adapters to its ports with a wrench. Pre-solder short lengths of pipe to each adapter so you can make solder connections without overheating the valve and damaging any plastic parts inside it.
8. Replace Shower Valve
4 Attach the valve to the framing with screws and dry-fit the plumbing connections with the appropriate pipe and fittings. When everything fits, solder each joint with flux, lead-free solder and a propane torch.
9. Replace Shower Valve
5 Turn on the water and check for leaks before you cover or close up the wall.
Items you will need
- Pressure-balancing cartridge
- Hex wrench
- Adjustable pliers
- Drywall saw
- Hacksaw or pipe cutter
- Pressure-balancing valve
- Inlet and outlet adapters
- Pipe and fittings
- Lead-free solder
- Propane torch
- If it's only the toilet that makes the shower hotter, try partially shutting the toilet valve. The toilet will fill more slowly, and it won't draw as much water. This simple fix may prevent the shower from overheating until you get a chance to replace the shower valve.
- If you have a two-handled faucet, you'll have to replace it with a single-handled model. Some manufacturers make faucets with two handles that function as single-handled ones so you don't have to cover unused holes in the wall with a large cover plate.
- Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images