Armchair Builder

Tub Shower Faucet Replacement Tip

We’ve been getting some questions about our video called, Tub Shower Faucet Replacement Tip (video is below).  This is a secret that most plumbers and plumbing supply companies don’t want you to know.  If you are looking to update your bath and have a budget to keep, you may want to consider a tub shower faucet replacement trim kit.  Basically, you leave the valve and plumbing in the wall as is and just replace the “pretty” stuff on the outside that you see.  Yes, faucet manufacturers sell just the “pretty stuff” in what is typically call a “trim kit”.  Going this route will save you anywhere from $200 to $300 because the trim kit can be replaced by the casual DIY’er without needing a plumber.  The video below discusses how this works, and for those of you that still have questions after watching, we have included some answers below the video to common questions.  FYI:  This is not a step-by-step guide to installing a tub shower faucet replacement trim kit.  The manufacturers include detailed instructions on how to install their trim kit…with the trim kit (each one will be slightly different based on the type of faucet).

Tub Shower Faucet Replacement Questions and Answers

Evelyn D. says, “Thanks for the video. We are in the process of updating our bathrooms so I’m glad I found it, but I have a question how do we go about finding out what type of existing valve there is, do we have to take everything out to find out?”

Armchair Builder Response:  Hey Evelyn.  Congrats on the new bath.  Here are some suggestions for determining the faucet manufacturer and type.  1) Look for manufacturer label on the faucet exterior…Moen for example usually has the name somewhere on it,  2) Determine whether you have full control of water flow (i.e. volume) or just temperature control (this helps determine valve type 3) Take a photo and send it to the manufacturer asking for the model number (and let them know about flow control from 2 above & give approximate age of faucet).  For our last remodel, I sent a photo to Moen and they were able to tell me the faucet model and the available trim kits.

 William L.  says, “Thanks for the video — I’m in the middle of doing this myself (removed the showerhead & flange - but not the arm yet, the tub spout, and the faceplate (Escutcheon )/handle/knob has been removed – haven’t bought the actual trim kit yet). Questions:”

1. “Do I need a channel lock or can I use adjustable pliers when removing the old showerhead arm?” Armchair Builder Response:  I typically do it by hand, but if you do use channel locks, be sure to use a towel between the grips and the pipe to prevent scratches.
2. ” When attaching the new showerhead arm to the inside pipe, the showerhead arm is the male – should I use teflon tape or pipe dope?  One site says if using teflon tape, to wrap it 4 times if it’s the thin kind, 2 times if it’s commercial grade.  Another site recommends using teflon tape and then finishing it off with some pipe dope.  Any thoughts?”  Armchair Builder Response:  Use teflon tape and wrap it a minimum of three times around.  Turn the water on and carefully watch for any leaks before pushing the escutcheon tight to the wall.
3. “When I removed the faceplate/handle/knob, I also removed the collar around the cartridge as well as the existing 2-piece plastic temperature limit pieces.  I assume we’ll be using the new trim kit’s plastic temperature limit pieces? I also assume that we don’t need to do anything with the cartridge and that I’ll just put the collar back on?”  Armchair Builder Response:  The tub shower faucet replacement trim kit comes with everything you need and typically, this is just the trim pieces you see on the outside of the wall.  The cartridge, limiter…etc. all stay original.  FYI:  The trim kit comes with detailed instructions on how to install it.

Gene P. says, “The Moen Caldwell currently sells for $160 at Lowes in Connecticut. Also, you need to give more info as to how to match the new valve to the existing valve as many demos on the internet are currently assuming you will have to break into the wall and do the plumbing to replace the regulator. In fact most of the units are sold with new regulator plumbing assuming you will do this job. This certainly requires a fair amount of expertise as you will be soldering in a tight space.”  Armchair Builder Response:  It does require some expertise to replace the valve inside the wall and it requires you to have access to it…and that’s why it is best to use a tub shower faucet replacement trim kit.  With the trim kit, all of the work is done on the outside of the wall.  You don’t need to cut drywall or remove wall tiles.

Still have questions?  Send us an email at info@armchairbuilder.com  For another great source for information about tub shower faucet replacement trim kits, check out this Moen customer support page.

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