Tackling Traditional Mixing Valve Issues

Designing an interchangeable system where components can be purchased separately and mixed and matched can be a good solution.
Tackling Traditional Mixing Valve Issues
Ed Del Grande

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Like most plumbers, I usually have a big say when choosing the tub/shower mixing valves for new bathroom or bathroom remodeling projects. Unless specified in the plans, the biggest concern is that the homeowner or project manager likes the look, finish trim and operation of the mixing valve. What's in the wall is usually not a big concern to a lot of customers since they expect the plumber to service the valve.

So I always keep my eyes open for quality tub/shower mixing valves that are easier to install, easier to service and can allow for wider profit margins. Some of the past issues and concerns I’ve dealt with are probably familiar to you as well:

  • Taking the mixing valve apart before the install — Since I usually purchase mixing valves in a complete boxed package, I have to dismantle the valve down to body only to avoid heat damage if it is to be soldered in place. Then, the valve needs to be put back together at a later time without losing any parts or damaging the valve.
  • Supporting the valve and installing pipe adapters — Because of bulky valve body shapes, supporting and hanging the valve in tight wall spaces can often be a challenge. Plus, most valves have built-in threaded or sweat fittings, and many times pipe adapters are needed to complete the rough install.
  • Storing and protecting finished valve trim parts until needed — With a complete mixing valve package, finished valve trim may not be needed until all the rough and tile work is completed. So, for a lot of jobs the mixing valve finished materials need to be stored and protected until ready to be installed. Plus, in some cases, the customer may want to change the style of the finish materials before the job is completed, further complicating the project.

I am sure you have had similar issues as well, and I have good news for you. Mixing valve manufacturers have heard the calls to address these concerns. A good solution I have recently seen is to design an interchangeable mixing valve system where all components can be purchased separately and components can be mixed and matched. This gives plumbers three big advantages:

  1. Easy to install — Plumbers can purchase newly designed "compact" valve bodies separately without the pre-installed valve stems and trim. This can allow for easier installations in tight spaces and it also eliminates the need to disassemble the valve. Special valve body test caps are included as well for system flushing and pressure testing to complete the work.
  2. Versatile — Mixing valve "body-only" components can be ordered with several popular types of built-in pipe connections. Extra pipe adapters are no longer needed in most cases since the piping can connect directly to the valve body. Also, valve stems and valve trim can be ordered only when you need them on the job. This helps lower up-front costs and eliminates the need to store trim materials. Also, changing the trim style before the job is completed is no longer a big deal.
  3. Reliable — Reducing callbacks and callback time is key to any plumbing project. Even though a mixing valve body may be redesigned to fit tight spots, you still want solid forged brass construction and quality valve stems. These new valve "systems" not only give you quality, but because all the components are interchangeable, after the install service calls can be easier.

Finally, for small jobs or valve replacements you can still have the option to order a complete mixing valve package in one box. But, with this new type of mixing valve system available, plumbers can now plan, purchase and put together a wide variety of mixing valve configurations to best fit the project.

For a companion video to this article, visit EdDelGrande.com and click on "Ed's Bonus Banner" or click the video below.


About the Author: Ed Del Grande is a three-time master plumber, GBCI LEED green associate and contractor with licenses in pipe fitting, fire protection and plumbing. He grew up in a family-owned plumbing business, and has 30-plus years of construction experience.

A self-employed contractor and professional comedian, he combined his performing and construction talents to became a pioneer in home-improvement television. Starting on HGTV with shows such as Dream Builders and The Fix, Del Grande helped build the DIY Network and HGTVpro.com with shows such as Warehouse Warriors and Ed The Plumber.


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