removing the tub spout with a pipe wrench
Photos by : Merle Henkenius
You're in the shower, doing your best imitation of a Top-40 pop star. Suddenly that warm, relaxing shower turns too hot to handle, causing you to jump back to avoid the scorching water. The cause? Someone in the house has flushed a toilet. If the situation sounds familiar, then you need to install a pressure-balance valve in your shower. These pressure-balancing devices prevent "shower shock" by automatically adjusting for temperature fluctuations whenever water?cold or hot?is diverted from the tub or shower, such as when someone starts up a load of laundry or flushes a toilet. Even in an instance when the water pressure drops drastically, a pressure-balance valve ensures that the water temperature doesn't change by more than 3° F. Antiscald devices have been required in hospitals and nursing homes for decades. Now, 31 states have enacted, or will do so soon, legislation requiring pressure-balance valves in all residential remodeling and new-construction projects. Antiscald devices are a wise investment. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year some 200,000 Americans suffer injuries caused by sudden changes in water temperature while they're bathing. Everyone is in danger of getting scalded or falling as they try to escape the hot water, but young children, the elderly and the physically challenged suffer the most injuries. BALANCING ACT
Until recently, single-handle pressure-balance valves were the only models available; these are fine when replacing a single-handle inner valve or for a full-scale remodel, but they're not very well suited to changing over an existing two-handle faucet. To hide the empty handle holes, you have to install an enormous trim plate, which isn't particularly attractive. For that reason, we chose the Delta Monitor II (about $260), the first two-handle pressure-balance valve. But, unlike a standard two-handle faucet, which has separate hot- and cold-water handles, the right handle of the Monitor II controls water temperature and the left handle controls water volume. It features a polished-chrome-and-brass finish, and includes a matching tub spout and showerhead. For our project, we removed a two-handle, 8-in. centerspread faucet through a hole we cut in the back side of the shower wall. We also enlarged the existing handle holes in the acrylic tub surround with a sabre saw to accommodate the Monitor II. If the walls of your shower are covered with ceramic tile, enlarge the holes using either a rotary tool with a 1/8-in.-dia. carbide bit or a sabre saw with an abrasive-grit blade.
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