Over the past few years, consumers and designers have been demanding fun and creative alternative color and finish options to use in the home bathroom space.
It appears that the industry has been listening, since today we are seeing new alternative finishes and colors being utilized in bath design for both the residential and hospitality categories of plumbing.
Method 1: Look for the brand on the shower trim
The first method is certainly the easiest: Look for the brand on the shower trim! When you take a look at your shower hardware, there is a plate attached to the wall, normally where the controls for the shower sits.
This is called the shower trim, looking at this plate or the controls you will see a brand name such as Delta, American Standard, Kohler etc. These are often printed in neutral colours or similar shading to the shower trim, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see it right away. Sometimes the brand name isn’t in an obvious location so make sure that you’ve checked on controls, handles, plates and even the shower head.
Once you have identified the brand, you would still need to identify the correct model. You would need to reach out to customer support on their website. Many of these brands allow you to send pictures to their customer service department right on their website. If you’re in a rush, you should be able to call them and handle this over the phone, though wait times differ from company to company.
The advantage of this method is that it’s easy. It does not require any handy work. The bad news is shower trims rarely have the brand name engraved on them. Even those that do might fade out over the years.
If you’re unable to locate the brand on your shower, move to Method # 2
Method 2 – Take a picture of the shower trim to show to a professional
If you can’t identify the brand name, the next step would be to take the shower trim to a shower expert. Since everyone is equipped with a smartphone nowadays, it would be best to take a picture of the trim.
There are 2 types of professionals who may be able to identify your shower trim:
- Plumbing Parts Counter
- Kitchen & Bath Showroom Consultant
You should take your picture to a plumbing parts counter if you have a generic shower trim. If it’s something with a basic design and finish, it’s more likely that the folks at the plumbing parts store have seen it over the years.
It’s important to note that the plumbing parts counter is different than a hardware store. It’s unlikely that someone at a hardware store would be to able to identify the model of your shower since their knowledge is more broad. The plumbing parts guys specialize in only one category, they see these issues every day.
Kitchen & Bath Showroom Consultant
If you have a higher end bathroom, there is a chance that the plumbing parts guys might not be familiar with your shower trim. In that case, it’s best to take your picture to a kitchen & bath showroom.
Showroom consultants are people who sell high end kitchen & bath hardware and fixtures. Although they sell the standard brands but they are especially accustomed to higher end and boutique brands.
You’d be able to tell if your shower trim has an elaborate design or a unique finish. A typical shower would be either chrome or brushed nickel. If it’s any other finish, there is a chance that a showroom consultant might be more familiar with that type of trims.
Method 3: Using Other Shower Components
Sometimes it isn’t possible to identify the shower valve based on pictures of the external features. This brings us to step number three, and this step is probably the least ideal way of identifying the shower.
Using other components to identify the valve
You could try to identify the brand by looking at other shower components: shower head, handheld shower, tub spout etc… There is a chance that the shower faucet was purchased as a set. Even when that’s not the case, homeowners prefer to have a cohesive look so they tend to stick to the same brand.
Once you have found your brand, refer to method 1 and reach out to that brand’s tech support team. There is a chance that you might fail a couple of times since the other components are not necessarily of the same brand.
The downside to this method
As mentioned previously, this method is not ideal because things tend to change over time. If you find yourself looking to fix something in your shower valve, chances are you have had these hardware on your wall for quite a while. Over the years, there is a high likelihood that you have had to replace some of the peripheral components of the shower.
The shower head is a prime example. When I use someone else’s shower, it tends to be a shower head from a third party. A shower head is a very personal tool. There are a lot of options out there: soft, wide, hard, narrow, pulsating etc.. Each individual has their own preferences. As a result, people tend to switch the shower head out quite often until they find the one best suited for their needs.
Often times, the other components are also unbranded as well. You could of course take those components to plumbing counter but since there are so many of them, they are less likely to be recognized by a professional.
Method 4: Naked Shower Valve Method
The fourth method to identify the shower valve requires you to be a little handy. For this step you would need to remove the shower trim so that you can take a look at what’s behind there. The good news is that most shower trims have screws which are fairly straightforward to remove and don’t require unique tools to access.
Once the trim has been removed, the guts of the valve should be exposed. Keep the screws and trim in a safe place for re-assembly.
With the valves now exposed, you should be able to take a picture of the front surface of the valve. Take it to your neighborhood plumbing parts supply house to be identified. As mentioned earlier, these professionals work with so many different types of showers and valves it is likely that they will be able to identify the valve you have. Or at the very least narrow your search to a specific brand.
Do not rely on a Kitchen and Bathroom showroom for this step, as they are not familiar with rough plumbing parts. There is an outside chance that an experienced showroom consultants might know but it’s best to stick to the parts counter.
Method 5: Shower Stem/Cartridge Method
If we’ve gone through all of the above steps and the local plumbing parts counter cannot identify the valve; The last option is option to take the shower cartridge out of the shower valve. It is possible that your local plumbing parts couldn’t identify the valve is because it’s just a picture and that picture might look similar to other valves. As we mentioned earlier the wrong valve won’t work with the shower and getting this wrong could cause huge issues with water damage or potentially worse problems, along with wasting time and effort, and possibly money, on the wrong valve.
Remember how we mentioned that you needed to be a little handy to move the screws? This method requires a lot more handy work.
Every shower cartridge has a different method to remove it from the pipes and plumbing that it is attached to. Once you have removed the screws as in step four and placed these parts safely to one side, the valve and cartridge is exposed in the wall. The cartridge is essentially the part that connects to the buttons on the shower head from behind the wall and allows you to operate your shower, turning it off and on and controlling the temperature.
One of the most important things to ensure you have done before attempting this step is to make sure that you have turned your water OFF! This will prevent a very wet mess causing further problems. Some of the shower cartridges do require a very specific tool; however, this can be overcome if you have a good range of plumbing tools, screwdrivers, pliers and adjustable grippers and pliers at home. These tools will allow you to remove the cartridge and we advise that you do this very slowly and carefully, working the cartridge out of the wall slowly, to prevent possible damage to any of the other plumbing behind the wall.