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How to Solder a Shower Valve

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A shower valve is a device used to control the functioning of the shower in a bathroom. This device is responsible for regulating the flow, pressure, and temperature of the water coming from the shower. 

Shower valves come in a variety of styles, depending on the shower fittings. That being said, most people install shower valves with copper fittings by soldering using a torch. Let us discuss how to solder a shower valve.

How to Solder a Shower Valve

According to the weldinghubs.com, soldering and replacing a copper pipe in your house isn’t as difficult as it might look. The soldering process looks a bit intimidating as a beginner, yet it’s a very simple process, as long as you follow a few basic instructions.

Shower room with shower valves

What You’ll Need

  • Eye protection
  • Heavy gloves
  • Fire protection cloth
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Copper pipe
  • Copper pipe fittings
  • Tube cutter
  • Deburring tool
  • Wire brush
  • A 120-grit emery cloth, sandpaper, or fine steel wool
  • Propane torch and regulator with built-in igniter
  • Lead-free soldering paste (also known as “flux”) with a flux brush
  • Solder wire
  • Rags

There are different types of shower valve brands you can use in soldering. Examples of these brands include:

  • Delta
  • Grohe
  • Price Pfister
  • Moen

The highlighted brands are American standards offering quality and efficiency. Purchase one of the valves and follow the highlighted steps.

Step 1: Remove The Plastic Parts

The first step is to remove all the plastic parts from the valve. Use your hands to open them up and put them aside. It is simple to work with a standard valve as they make your work easy. Most brands such as Delta can also be used for breezing as it is known as a high-end model.  

Step 2: Remove The Cartilage

While some valves have cartilages, others don’t have them. If the valve you are using has one, ensure you remove it after opening the valve. It is also important to remove any rubber in the valve to prevent overheating when soldering.

Step 3: Inspect The Valve

Make sure the valve is clean and free from damage and debris. This step’s importance is to ensure you are working with a quality valve that will not allow any leaks after the soldering is done. Wire out all the openings of the valve before any fitting to scarify the surface and clean everything.

Shower valve

Ensure the valve sits upright.  Most valves have a “UP” direction that will show you how to put them for correct fittings.

Step 4: Choose the Right Fitting

There are two types of fitting you can use on a valve. You can either work with one that fits over another fitting or one that fits over a pipe, such as the PEX adaptor. Both of these fittings work well, and the one you choose to work with will depend on what you have.

Step 5: Clean The Tube Ends

As you prepare to solder, you need to clean the solder cups thoroughly, and the tube ends on both sides. You can either use Emery cloth, Scotch-Brite, or a fitting brush.

Step 6: Apply The Flux Paste

Before applying the paste flux, fix the fitting to ensure they are compatible. 

Get a flux paste and brush to apply it on the inside walls and outside surfaces of the tube that you’ll need to insert. One of the best options you can use is the water-soluble paste.

After flux application, use a dry cloth to wipe off the pipes’ extra solder to prevent drips and solder joints.

Step 7: Prepare to Solder

Select a torch tip size appropriate for the size of the tube you intend to solder as well as the fuel gas you will be using. Get a propane tank and a regulator with a built-in igniter. It’s important to read the torch manufacturer’s recommendations for correct torch size when soldering.

After you have the correct torch tip size and the fuel gas, work your way up to the fixture for everything to heat up and make perfect solder joints. Most quality valves such as Delta and Apollo may not require you to get a special flux or solders. They also don’t need extra heating for the best results. 

Use solders with less than 500 degrees Fahrenheit melting temperature to reduce the amount of heating required as well as the time in completing a solder joint. Ensure you have eye protection glass, heavy gloves, and fire protection clothes to prevent injuries on the job.

Shower

Step 8: Wrap The Valve Body With A Wet Rag

During installation, it’s advisable to wrap the valve body with a wet rag or other heat-absorbing techniques to prevent overheating of the center section of the valve and the seal. This process helps in preventing damage to the valve seats and seals.

Step 9: Begin Soldering

When soldering ensure the heat is concentrated on the copper pipe first as you direct the flames away from the body joints. After the tube is preheated, focus the heat on the valve cups as you move the flames to ensure there are no overheats to prevent damage.

Touch the solder to the joints. Immediately the solder starts to melt, regulate the heat as you continue to feed it in the joints around the entire cup. Through the capillary action, the solder draws to the joints covering the areas you applied flux.

Step 10: Allow The Joints to Cool

Finally, give time for the joints to cool completely without using any technique. Natural cooling is advisable to prevent stress to the joints and connections. Using a wet rag or water too cool may cause the copper pipe to cool too fast and cause leaks. 

To get rid of the joints’ dark brown spots, you can use extra flux to have a nice look and wipe with a dry rag. After following all the highlighted soldering steps, the unit is ready to go to the walls.

Conclusion 

Before soldering ensure you have all the needed supplies to work effectively. Learn and understand the process for the right steps to come up with the best results. Take your time and read the highlighted directions before you start the process.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.