Shower fixture installation, rough-in dimensions
QUESTION: I am having a problem installing a shower fixture. I had a plumber come out and change my shower faucet from a triple to a single handle faucet. I had the tile guy install the tile and then I was going to put on the shower fixtures myself. When I got to the water control fixture, I noticed that the stem that extends from the valve body was sticking out too far. I have had several people and another plumber come out and make several suggestions regarding this problem. The last thing I want is the expense of removing the tile and doing the plumbing all over again. But it seems like the valve body has to be pushed back further into the wall. Is that my only option at this point?
Brigette Howe, via email
ANSWER: “It sounds like your plumber made a mistake with the installation,” says Vince McDonald of McDonald Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning in Sacramento. “All shower valves need to be installed within a certain range of the depth in the wall. Depending on the manufacturer, the installer is generally provided with a 1-to 3-inch margin for installation depths, he says. “Outside that margin and there is trouble. It is usually more common and easier to deal with valves that are not far enough out of the wall.”
“We would never install a valve in a wall without knowing the necessary rough-in dimensions and the finished wall thickness,” McDonald says. “So unless you told him that the finished wall was going to be much further out than the existing tile, he made a mistake. I suggest you have the original plumber come back and try to install the trim. He might be able to work through the opening in the wall behind the trim plate to move the valve back,” McDonald says.
“A repair plate also is available. This is basically a large oval dish approximately 12 inches wide by 7 inches high that will provide for more access in the wall without complete removal of the tile. McDonald also suggests contacting the manufacturer to get help, since its representatives are familiar with problems like yours. “Whatever it takes, I believe that any reputable plumbing firm that makes such a mistake should take care of any costs involved to make the corrections, even it if means paying the tile setter to patch back the tile,” McDonald says.