Sunday, September 23, 2012

Plumbing: Upstairs Shower

We originally imagined that we would completely remodel the master bathroom, and keep the other full bath upstairs as it was. When we went to get a new showerhead, we thought that we should just change the whole kit to brushed steel instead of chrome.

We found a cheap kit at Menards on clearance, but when we went to install it, we learned that it was for new builds. We had no way of installing it into our current tub surround. We then went to Home Depot and bought a universal kit that was meant to retro fit into tub surrounds. Only after taking everything apart and trying to install it did we realize that our valve was not compatible. We thought that this big brass ring would come off.
It does not. We have a delta monitor handle from the year the house was built (1992). My parents house, built nearby in 1994, has the same ones. We learned that their valves use proprietary cartridges, and are therefore difficult to replace. Furthermore, the replacements available now in a typcial hardware store do not fit with the one we have, which looks like this:
It's not completely snapped together in this picture, but that's the interior of the handle. The guy at Home Depot said that maybe if we took it all apart, we could change that little medal tip to be smaller or different, and then we would be able to buy a new handle. This was his advice without seeing it, only then did he recommend a new cartridge, which was still incompatible. This is what it looked like in pieces:
In my opinion, it's grossly over-engineered. The other handle interiors are a single metal spout, but those of course require a different valve. This is more like a valve and handle in one. The worst part about this was we had to reattach the handle whenever we needed water elsewhere in the house, and this project spanned two days. Because we would have to cut open the wall and cut out the valve to replace it, we decided to leave it and just get a chrome showerhead.