Have you had to take cold showers even though you can wash your hands under warm water in the bathroom sink?
If you have a hot water issue with the shower, but the sinks are working just fine, the source is probably the shower head itself. You may need to adjust the anti-scald device or replace your shower faucet cartridge.
Fortunately, you can do both of these jobs without the help of a plumbing expert.
If you can’t solve it on your own, you will need to rope in the services of a professional plumber. However, that can prove a costly business, and you will want to avoid going down that route if you don’t have to.
Try the following steps for inspecting and adjusting your shower faucet and—hopefully—restoring hot showers to your home.
How To Inspect Your Shower Faucet Anti-Scald Device – Step-By-Step
To confirm that the shower cartridge is the source of your hot water problems, you can troubleshoot with these five easy steps to produce a diagnosis and remedy the situation if necessary.
1. Check the Water Temperature
Before you investigate further, let the shower water run a little and use your hand to get a feel for just how hot or cold the water is. This temperature will be your gauge later in the troubleshooting process.
While it should be evident if water is hot or cold, this gauge helps you determine just how severe the problem is and whether you need to take any other extraordinary measures to address your shower water problem.
2. Turn Off The Water In Your Shower
You will need to turn off the water feeding your shower system. Depending on the system you have in your home, you might have to turn off all the pipes in the house.
More modern systems will allow you to turn off the water to your shower without disrupting the rest of the household.
Even after turning the water off, you should also check to ensure that the water in your shower is indeed off in both the cold and hot water taps. Make sure there is nothing more than residual water from the pipes coming out.
3. Remove The Head Of Your Faucet
An Allen wrench or screwdriver should be more than sufficient for this task.
Inside your faucet head, you will find a little white cartridge that instructs you to turn it to the left to make it hotter and to the right to make it colder. On the cartridge valve, you will also see instructions to pull out and turn to adjust the cartridge.
This white cartridge is your anti-scald device, a safety device to keep water from getting too hot and burning you.
When you finish your adjustment, push that cartridge back in.
4. Adjust Anti-Scalding Device
The whole reason you are taking yourself through this process is to try and get hot water in your shower.
Pull out your anti-scald device and turn it gently to the left. You can adjust this gradually, or you can turn the cartridge all the way if you are confident you want the water to be scalding hot.
You should be able to tell immediately if this is the source of your shower water problems.
5. Turn Your Water Back On
Once you are done with the anti-scald adjustment, you can put your faucet head back on and turn the water to your home back on. Return to the shower and give the shower water a test.
If you notice a change in the water temperature but aren’t entirely satisfied with the difference, you will at least have established that the anti-scald device is the issue. At this point, you only need to make a few more minor adjustments.
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How To Replace A Shower Faucet Cartridge Step-By-Step
If adjusting the shower anti-scald device doesn’t work, you probably need to replace your entire shower faucet cartridge.
Here is how you can get that done if you are confident enough to leave a plumber out of the equation.
1. Turn Off Your Water Supply
If your water supply is not turned off, water will start shooting out uncontrollably once you have removed the ring to your cartridge (usually by hand but sometimes with a wrench). Not only will this create a mess, but it will also be a costly waste.
2. Remove The Head Of Your Faucet
As indicated above, you can do this with an Allen wrench.
3. Remove The Trim Ring
Gently remove the trim ring in your shower, which will give you the access you need to your cartridge. The trim ring will usually just pop off after you remove the silicon attaching it to the shower wall. A simple box cutter should do the trick here.
4. Remove The Ring On Your Shower Valve
The ring on your shower valve is what holds the cartridge in place. If there is any water pressure still in the shower valve, you can put your faucet head back on and just turn it to release any water that might still be in the valve.
That water pressure is what usually makes it a little harder to remove the ring on your shower valve. When ready, you should just be able to unscrew it counter-clockwise.
5. Pull The Cartridge Out
When you pull the cartridge out, you might want to have a little bucket at hand just to catch any extra water that spills out and prevent water damage.
Typically, the things you need to replace are the black O-rings. Once you are done, return the new cartridge and ensure it fits properly into the shower.
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What If It Is The Shower Mixing Valve?
If you suspect there is an issue with the shower mixing valve, which is responsible for providing the balance you need for hot and cold water, you will probably need to call upon the services of a professional plumber.
If you don’t know what you are doing, you will ultimately do more harm than good.