Home Remodeling Help: How To Install Bathroom Shower Fixtures

Installing shower fixtures is a task that the do-it-yourself homeowner is capable of accomplishing with a little direction.

Installing shower fixtures is a task that the do-it-yourself homeowner is capable of accomplishing with a little direction. To begin this installation, all the piping, including hot and cold water supply pipes, pipes leading to the showerhead and/or the tub spout and drainpipes must be in place before installing the shower enclosure or a tub.

After the piping is in place, it is time to look at installing the tub or shower enclosure. When planning to install the tub/shower units, keep in mind that positioning them on branch drains is usually necessary causing the positioning of the units at floor level or below. Now place the tub or shower enclosure on 1x4 or 2x4 supports, which are necessary because of the weight, especially with a tub. Remember the tub will be heavy when filled with water. Place the tub/shower enclosure with the continuous flange fitting snugly against the wall studs. A shower stall requires a minimum floor area of 1,024 square inches with 24 inches allowed between the shower unit and any other fixture or wall. After positioning the tub/shower, the drain is now to be connected. Assemble the drain connections directly above the trap, by connecting the tub overflow with the tub drain. This trap has a compression fitting that will screw over the arm of the overflow assembly.

After installing the drain and the overflow, the next step is to attach the hot and cold water mixing valves to the hot and cold water lines. Attach these by sweating the lines directly into the hot and cold ports of the mixing valve.



Next, the pipe and the shower arm stub are placed up the wall. A brass female threaded winged fitting is sweated on top of this pipe and the sweated winged fitting is nailed or screwed into a framing support.

If installing a tub, a tub spout will have put in place. To accomplish this, extend a ½" piece of pipe carefully following the manufacturer's instructions. Sweat a male threaded fitting on to the end of the ½" pipe or use a brass nipple that is the correct size and length with a ½" cap. At this point, have the rough plumbing inspected before moving on the rest of the installation.

After the inspection, restore water pressure to check the drain connection and supply lines for any leaks. If leaks are found, they should be fixed, if no leaks are found, replace the wall with moisture resistant drywall used as a base for the wall covering. After completing all the installation and fixing any leaks, turn the water back on. Open an outside faucet or flush the toilet several times to clean out the lines of air and debris. Replace the wall and seal the joints between the wall and the new tub or shower with silicone caulking to protect the wall from water damage caused by seepage. Next, install the spout, handles and shower head. The showerhead will screw onto the shower arm stub out. When installing a new showerhead, or replacing an old one, be sure to clean the pipe threads and apply new pipe joint compound, Teflon tape or even both to prevent leaks. Now the tub or shower is ready for use.

Installing bathroom shower fixtures can be a task for the do-it-yourself person, especially if following the simple instructions mentioned above. However, there are also a few common mistakes made and should be avoided in order to do the job correctly. One of these mistakes is violating or ignoring local code restrictions; the installer should always be aware of the local code restrictions and follow them. Installers sometimes use smaller pipes than required; this is a practice not be followed. Another problem is attaching copper to galvanized without using a dielectric fitting between the two, be careful and do not do this, take the time to do the job correctly. Not using Teflon tape or pipe compound at threaded joints is just asking for trouble, usually water leaks from this mistake. Always level the fixtures before permanently installing them. Some fixtures require an air gap filling, and leaving them out is another mistake that sometimes occurs. Follow all the directions to be sure what the fixture you are installing requires. Another problem that can be avoided is cutting supply stub outs too short to install shut off valves onto after the finished wall is in place, remember to take correct measurements and this will not happen. And, the last mistake that is often made is not properly aligning tubing into fittings or stop valves, forcing the nut onto the compression ring at an angle when the tubing is at an angle will cause a leak. Avoiding these mistakes will help the homeowner achieve the results they are striving to achieve.

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