Mid-priced body showers are the easiest to install
Q: We have a boring shower and we want to modernize it. At present it is standard in size with ceramic tile walls. We found a body shower that has multiple spray heads, and it looks like the one we want. I have some plumbing experience and am wondering if I am up to the task.
A: Looks like you are taking the shower seriously. I have a friend who actually takes three showers a day. I’m sure he’s got some psychological issues, but it’s just as likely that the soap makers will thank him. After you start using the body shower, you may be able to shower just as often.
A body shower has multiple jets that spray you as you bathe. Some jets have pulsating heads that will give you a gentle massage while you shower. Lower-end models just peel off the shower throat, and that looks poor because the plumbing is exposed to the two spray jets. Mid-priced units are the most popular because they come in a unit that mounts to the wall.
You can also build a custom body shower, but you have to open up the walls and run the rough plumbing, as well as add an electrical supply, as they usually have pumps.
Since the mid-priced unit is the most popular, I’ll focus on it. First, remove the escutcheon to make sure you have enough space in the shower wall cavity.
Also use a pressure gauge to test your water pressure. You can buy one for under $ 10 and screw it onto the garden hose. Open the hose valve and read the dipstick. Check the manufacturer’s specifications for the minimum acceptable water pressure, but it is generally 45 psi.
To start the installation, turn off the water in the house. Go to the shower and turn on the shower faucet to release the water pressure.
You’ll be removing the shower faucet from inside the wall, but it’s not as complicated as you might think. You can heat the fittings with a torch and pull them out, but since the area will be very narrow, I would cut the key parts with a pipe cutter.
You want to remove the shower arm and riser first (some units require you to connect an elbow in place of the shower arm to supply water to the unit). This will be the pipe coming out of the top of the valve. You can cut this hose first and then unscrew the shower arm.
To remove the shower faucet, cut the hot or cold line and unscrew the faucet. So you will only have to replace a male fitting on the pipe you are cutting. If space is tight, you can use a compression fitting instead of sweating a fitting with a torch.
You may need to install various adapters for the plumbing connections, but you will be left with two male adapters, each at the end of the hot and cold supply hoses. You may also need to replace the tile where the shower arm was located if the unit does not cover the hole.
Then get ready to hook up the body shower. Measure the dimensions of the installation and drill the tile. Use a tile drill bit and dig a hole in the tile.
Install the anchors, but first apply some silicone around them to keep water out. Push the anchor through the hole, then thread the screw into the anchor. This will cause the anchor to expand and the screw will go into it.
Install the braided steel water lines to the adapters, then to the body shower using Teflon tape.
The body shower mounts from the top and bottom, then has two mounting positions near the valve handle. Place the shower on the bolts and tighten the nuts. The perimeter of the unit has a gel-like substance, so when you tighten the nuts, the gel compresses to keep water out.
Attach the handheld sprayer and the rest of the water jets (they just slide together). The last step is to install the decorative covers on the jets. These units have an anti-scald function and the instructions will tell you how to use and adjust the valve. Finally, screw the handle to the unit with a set screw.
The body shower can work like a regular shower, or you can turn the handle a bit further and the body jets will come on and flood you.
Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and owner of Las Vegas Handyman. Questions can be emailed to [email protected] Or send mail to 4710 W. Dewey Drive, No. 100, Las Vegas, NV 89118. Its web address is www.handymanoflasvegas.com.