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Old 12-30-2005, 09:49 AM   #1 (Print)
Merrier
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Question SOAK: Shower Woes

*waves hello* I've lurked here for a while. In that time I've seen the SOAK solve many a problem, so I figured I'd deactivate my cone of silence and seek your wisdom.

We purchased a house in November. Overall, we love it but the shower is just outright awful. There's next to no water volume or pressure. The hot water is barely warm enough to be labeled hot even with the thermostat set as high as it will go. I did a search here and found a few things to try like checking the valves to make sure they're all open. Some of the other suggestions were beyond our very small home fix-it capabilities.

We've made some progress on the pressure problem. After trying a couple different shower heads, we bought an Oxygenics self-pressurizing model and while it's not incredibly refreshing and invigorating, the shower is no longer akin to someone pouring a paper cup full of water over your head.

We're out of ideas on the hot water. One thing I noticed is that the water control handle doesn't have much movement to the hot side. If you turn it to full cold, it goes to about a 10:00 position with a much higher visible volume than when it's turned to the 1:00 or so that the hot goes to.

For general background, our house was built in 1999. It's in a newer subdivision with city water. The hot water is a tankless on-demand system.

So, my questions for the SOAK are: Are there any simple adjustments we could look to make that might help? Would a new shower assembly or something make a difference? If all possible solutions were beyond our abilities, what kind of price would we be looking at to have a plumber take a look at it?
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Old 12-30-2005, 09:56 AM   #2 (Print)
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Some shower valves have an "anti-scald" feature that limits valve travel on the hot side. On those, if you remove the handle, you'll find some sort of movable/adjustable widget inside that keeps you from opening the hot side more. Adjusting that may help.

If your hot water temp is low throughout the house, consider increasing the temp of the water heater - but be careful if kids or elderly people use your sinks/showers, because of the scald danger.

Is water pressure and flow ok in the rest of the house? If so, you might need to replace or rebuild your shower valve. If it's a single-handle model, that's usually pretty easy - many have a cartridge that can be replaced. find the make/model (at least the make, since manufacturere usually use the same guts in most of their products) to a home center and ask for help in the plumbing depertment.

Replacing it is a bigger job that you may want to hire a plumber or handyman to do.

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Old 12-30-2005, 10:12 AM   #3 (Print)
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I'm not a plumber so take this with a grain of salt. If the water pressure and temp is ok throughout the rest of the house I think it's safe to assume the problem is with the valve in that particular shower. That should be a relativly cheap/easy fix.

It almost sounds like there is a clog of some sort... As I said though, grain of salt.

Good Luck!

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Old 12-30-2005, 10:19 AM   #4 (Print)
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In addition to the anti-scald feature, if this is a single handle faucet, there are probably shutoffs behind the cover. They are typically a small screwhead on each side of the valve. Perhaps the one for the hot hasn't been opened all the way.

Also, if the pressure for hot is bad throughout the house, check the pipes running to the hot water heater (I assume these on demand systems use similar type connectors as regular water heaters). Anyway, the flexible hose ones or even the flexible copper ones can be kinked, reducing flow.

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Old 12-30-2005, 10:24 AM   #5 (Print)
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Sometimes you can find take-apart diagrams of your shower assembly by searching on the manufacturer's website. I used a diagram like that to fix a similar problem at my old condo. In my case, it was the anti-scald feature that needed adjustment.

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Old 12-30-2005, 10:38 AM   #6 (Print)
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Thank you so much for the quick and helpful ideas!

The pressure isn't astounding anywhere in the house, but turning on the bathroom sink faucet it looks like the volume there would fill up the bathtub faster than it's own faucet would.

It sounds like we need to get brave and take a look inside the handle area. There are two screws on the face plate that I assume would let us peek in without destroying anything. I hope so, anway!
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Old 12-30-2005, 10:42 AM   #7 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrier
It sounds like we need to get brave and take a look inside the handle area. There are two screws on the face plate that I assume would let us peek in without destroying anything. I hope so, anway!


It should. You'll also need to take the handle off too, probably.

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Old 12-30-2005, 10:43 AM   #8 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustAllie
Sometimes you can find take-apart diagrams of your shower assembly by searching on the manufacturer's website. I used a diagram like that to fix a similar problem at my old condo. In my case, it was the anti-scald feature that needed adjustment.



I was just about to recommend that Allie. Those diagragms are quite helpful.

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Old 12-30-2005, 10:44 AM   #9 (Print)
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Is the brand name of the manufacturer written anywhere on the shower or bath hardware?

Don't fret about removing the faceplate -- just make sure that you don't drop those screws down the drain when you remove them!

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Old 12-30-2005, 11:23 AM   #10 (Print)
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Old 12-30-2005, 11:25 AM   #11 (Print)
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Glad you came out of hiding. Welcome!

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Old 12-30-2005, 11:42 AM   #12 (Print)
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Thanks for the welcome, Wendiness1.

The fixture is an American Standard brand. I've wasted a bit of my work day going around in circles on their site this morning without much luck. If the problem was with one of their toilets, I'd be in business.
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Old 12-30-2005, 11:57 AM   #13 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrier
Thanks for the welcome, Wendiness1.

The fixture is an American Standard brand. I've wasted a bit of my work day going around in circles on their site this morning without much luck. If the problem was with one of their toilets, I'd be in business.
The American Standard website seems very difficult to search, but if you try to find your shower starting at this link and then click on the photo of your bath/shower faucet set, you hopefully will see a Spec Sheet for that set of hardware linked to the resulting page. The Installation Notes and Repair Parts PDF files may also be useful.

Sorry I couldn't narrow it down to less than six pages to search.

Fingers crossed for you....

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Old 12-30-2005, 12:02 PM   #14 (Print)
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Have you tried Google Toolbar's "Search This Site" function? It works better than some site's own search functions, including MSFT's!

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Old 12-30-2005, 12:06 PM   #15 (Print)
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Does your shower head have a flow restrictor on it? I removed ours, according to the makers instructions, and got a nice jump in water flow.
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Old 12-30-2005, 12:40 PM   #16 (Print)
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I found a model on the American Standard site that looks similar to ours. (Thanks, JustAllie!) Hopefully they haven't changed things enough in six years that it'll look totally foreign inside. If it does, I'll try more searching then. The model I looked at, it seems simple enough...just a ring inside that you pull out and turn then lock back in place.

Here's hoping I don't return after the weekend telling tales of catastrophe and flooding and who knows what else. *laugh*
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Old 12-30-2005, 12:44 PM   #17 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrier
I found a model on the American Standard site that looks similar to ours. (Thanks, JustAllie!)
Hope the information you found helps -- if not, I forgot to include the Custom Shower Systems in my search.

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Old 12-30-2005, 12:49 PM   #18 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrier
I found a model on the American Standard site that looks similar to ours. (Thanks, JustAllie!)*


How about posting a link? Are you sure you're not supposed to shut off prior to the ring thing action?

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Old 12-30-2005, 12:55 PM   #19 (Print)
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Don't forget to close or cover the drain before you start unscrewing anything. Watching a screw disappear down there gives a feeling much like the one you get as the car door slams and you remember the keys are still inside.
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Old 12-30-2005, 01:05 PM   #20 (Print)
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This was the diagram I looked at.

The current plan is 1) turn off water in basement 2) disassemble fixture with a towel over the drain 3) if it doesn't look like that diagram, look for more 4) hopefully make required adjustments.

It all seems fairly straightforward. Then again, we have a medicine cabinet on the floor of the master bedroom closet because we failed miserably at installing it.
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Old 12-30-2005, 01:15 PM   #21 (Print)
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When I was dealing with my shower, I only had to disassemble my shower valve as far as the "Hot Limit Stop" shown in your diagram. That was very easy.

In your case, I am wondering if you will need to go as far as the "Pressure Balancing Unit" to deal with your water pressure problems.

I just noticed that there is a toll-free help hotline number on that PDF file -- you might try calling them for suggestions.

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Old 12-30-2005, 01:29 PM   #22 (Print)
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Note the small diagram at the bottom of the first page. It seems to show shutoff screws at the left and right side of the valve (assuming that is the valve). It doesn't show in the other diagrams, but that's where they should be. So if those exist, you won't have to turn of the water for the whole house. Although I'd note box four on page 2 doesn't seem to mention a need to turn off the water, so maybe the removal of the cartridge automatically shuts it off. I probably wouldn't rely on that happening!

If you do have to turn off the water for the whole house, turn off the hot water heater first.

Also, note the box 3 on page 2. That's the instructions on the hot water stop, which should be the first thing you check (because you don't need to turn the water off for that).

Edit: Looking at it again, there are apparently two models. Right below the showerhead, there's a valve body with stops and one below without. Hopefully you have the one with stops (I've never seen one without).

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Old 12-30-2005, 03:30 PM   #23 (Print)
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No new info to add, other than I had to do the same thing for my shower after we built our house. It really was just removing the faceplate, pulling the toothed ring, turning it, and replacing it.

What part of southern NH are you at? If you're near the coast and have troubles, I'd be glad to come over and lend a hand...

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Old 12-30-2005, 04:11 PM   #24 (Print)
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If it is just the ring, will we even need to turn off the water?

We are near the coast, in Rochester. I'm hoping we can manage this one ourselves. We need a success to get our homeowner egos back on track.
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Old 12-30-2005, 04:17 PM   #25 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrier
If it is just the ring, will we even need to turn off the water?


If you're talking about the scald ring, no you shouldn't have to turn off the water.

The other ring that holds in the cartridge, I'm not so sure about, but there I suspect you would have to turn off the water.

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Old 12-30-2005, 04:46 PM   #26 (Print)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merrier
If it is just the ring, will we even need to turn off the water?

We are near the coast, in Rochester. I'm hoping we can manage this one ourselves. We need a success to get our homeowner egos back on track.

Rochester's a half hour from me. Yell if you want a hand!

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