Home & Garden

Ask a plumber: Old shower valve is all washed up

By Ed Del Grande

Tribune News Service

The July Rite-Temp pressure-balancing shower trim set from Kohler.
The July Rite-Temp pressure-balancing shower trim set from Kohler. TNS

Q: I have a very old shower stall. It has the original single-handle mixing valve that constantly leaks. I have not been able to find a plumber who wants to fix this valve. The last plumber who looked at it said parts are no longer available and it needs to be replaced with a new mixing valve. To do this will I have to open up the wall? Any other repair ideas I can explore to solve this issue?

Mary, Texas

A: A shower mixing valve is the main component in a shower’s plumbing system. But, just like any broken component, sometimes it may need to be replaced to solve the problem.

You mentioned more than one plumber has looked at the valve and no one has tried to fix it. This does not necessarily mean it can’t be repaired. But, if parts are no longer available and the labor costs could be more to repair than replace, installing a new mixing valve may be the best option. Hopefully, you have an access panel on the wall behind the valve, and that can save on cosmetic work.

Either way, once your plumber has access to the old valve, it can usually be cut out of the plumbing system and a new single handle valve can be installed in its place. The good news is you are not replacing an old two-handle valve with a new single-handle valve. That could require much more cosmetic work, and your single-handle valve job could be double the money.

Master contractor and plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of the book “Ed Del Grande’s House Call” and the host of TV and Internet shows. Visit eddelgrande.com or write eadelg@cs.com.