ProDave

Thermostatic shower bar mixer valves, questions, woes, and a bit of a rant.

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Present house has a themostatic bar mixer valve. when it works, it is great.  BUT...


 

The present house is 12 years old.  At 4 years old, the mixer stopped regulating properly, so i replaced the thermostatic cartridge. At 8 years old, it failed again. Although the original cartridge came out easily, I had to press VERY hard (vice) to get the new one fully home, so I thought the chance of getting it out to replace it again was slim. So I bought a whole new bar mixer.  Now at 12 years old, it's failed again.


 

So is 4 years the "normal" life? is it considered normal to have to repair or replace them every 4 years?  If so I will be lookinf for something different for the new house, something that just keeps working.


 

SWMBO of course blames me for buying the cheapest. That is true of the current one, but not the original. Is it really true that if I spend more, it might last longer than 4 years?


 

Is it a problem with our water?  We have very soft water here so I can't think of an issue, but clearly something is gumming up inside.  Is it worth digging out the original one, giving it a few days soaking in something like Viakal and trying it again?


 

Ideas and observations please.


 

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Interesting that 4 years seems to be the point of failure. We had Trevi thermostatic mixers in our last house. The main shower started playing up a bit around the 4 year mark. I simply swapped the cartridge out with our second virtually unused shower.

 

I've bought Grohe shower bars for our new house.  Time will tell I suppose...

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Moretti from screw fix have to be the biggest POS's I've ever come across, for comparison. 3, all dead within a year to 18 months. Went down a storm as one was in the SiL's house :ph34r:  

5 year warranty which wasn't worth a w**k. 

Mira, Bristan, Triton, and then upwards to the Grohe / HansGrohe stuff is the sliding scale on which I'd purchase. 

Vado seems very good for the money, and most models I've seen / fitted have a 12 Year warranty. 

These are my weapon of choice for budget / rental installs but they loom great, perform well and don't appear to break down according to my feedback. 5 years warranty backed by triton so that's your 4 year itch scratched and if you had to replace it after 5 years it's £70

This is vados offering for comparison

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Here's my dilemma.  I can get a real cheapie from ebay for £25, I think the present one was £35 from the bay 4 years ago. That lasted 4 years.


 

If I spend £70 will it last for at least 8 years? I can get a Grohe for £150, would that last 16 years or more to make it a worthwhile purchase over the cheapie?

 

We are still trying to sell so that bit of me says buy another cheap one and surely wer will have sold by 4 years when the next one fails? SWMBO is trying to convince me to buy a better one as if she thinks it will help the house to sell.


 

Does the same thing happen to mixer valves that are built into the wall? If so then that must be a real megga PITA when they go. That alone has convinced me that exposed, easy to swap mixers are the way to go for maintenance reasons.


 

Any thoughts on trying to "unclog" one of the failed ones or what causes them to fail?  the failure mode seems to be initially they still regulate but you can't adjust the temperature, and then a bit later they fail to regulate and it's pot luck what temperature comes out.

 

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I had a Grohe Avensys Modern that the thermostat went on twice in 3 years ... Replaced under warranty and then the control block started allowing a small leak past which in the end I fixed by strip and rebuild - easy enough if you have a 42mm socket..!

 

Not what I would expect for a £400 unit 

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Have heard good things about the Swadling mixers from Matki. Have actually got one for one of our bathrooms but work on that is currently on hold. 

 

Video here has shots of the mixer around 1min 30..

 

 

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11 hours ago, ProDave said:

Does the same thing happen to mixer valves that are built into the wall? If so then that must be a real megga PITA when they go. That alone has convinced me that exposed, easy to swap mixers are the way to go for maintenance reasons.

 

Exactly my thoughts, especially since we are fitting shower panels.  The last thing I want to be doing is have to remove and then refit a panel if there is a problem with the shower valve.  Far easier to have an exposed valve which can be easily changed.

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Normally you can service them (change the valve seals or cartridge) through the cover plate.

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28 minutes ago, Temp said:

Normally you can service them (change the valve seals or cartridge) through the cover plate.

 

Agreed. the Cross Water ones I've used in the past were fully serviceable from the plate. 

The only maintenance issue which would make you swear (ALOT) would be a leaking joint or pipework.

When I did mine I was completely paranoid and didn't plaster the opposite side of the wall for a good two weeks just to ensure the connections remained dry even though I had pressure tested everything. 

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There's pretty much nothing which is not serviced from the front / above so very little to worry about from that POV. Manufacturers want you to buy their expensive bury-able trinkets so they make them as owner friendly as possible. 

Spend some money on the shower valve as it's the thing that, in fairness, gets the most use in most homes. A good manufacturer, such as Mira / Triton and upwards, will have overhaul kits or complete new parts available for the foreseeable, but I decided to keep 6 tiles back so if mine ( £80 odd off eBay ) ever snuffs it I can whip 2 tiles off and change the whole thing in a weekend. I absolutely did not want a tap / spout on my bath so am happy to accept the possiblity of having to change it in 5 - 10 years, but tbh, I may just go back on eBay and buy another to keep so I have spares.  

Mine has had a pounding and is a temp + diverter + flow control 3-way jobbie, and is going strong after 2 years of hard use. 

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Well I have just "ordered" a new one from flea bay for £15 including postage. I will let you know how I get on.  If it lasts 4 years again at that price, then a £150 Grohe one would have to last 40 years to be better value.
 

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On 9/16/2016 at 21:08, ProDave said:

Well I have just "ordered" a new one from flea bay for £15 including postage. I will let you know how I get on.  If it lasts 4 years again at that price, then a £150 Grohe one would have to last 40 years to be better value.
 

Flow rates can be much slower with cheaply ones, but tbh Dave, your argument is undeniably simplistic and exactly right. That's the reason I didn't buy a £300-500 equivalent of the valve I fitted. image.jpg

That 3-way valve was around £80 complete :)  

This one is over £300 and I can't really see a difference. I guess I'm an inside man so can determine what's shat and what's not but with something as easy to change as a bar mixer valve, Daves logic is spot on. 

@ProDave, have you considered something like this which still has the fixed 150mm centred pipework and can be changed just as quick as a normal bar mixer ;) ? Having the rainfall / rose over head spray is great. 

 

 

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@Nickfromwales Yes we do want a rainfall shower in the new house. BUT we also want a walk in shower with no doors just a big shower and a big fixed glass panel. That creates it's own problem in that the shower head needs to be remote from the controls so you can turn it on and wait for the hot water to get to the head before you step in.


 

Our present shower works as you can open the door, put one hand in, turn it on, withdraw that hand quickly until the hot water gets there. you can't do that with a big fixed glass panel, hence needing remote valves.


 

Another topic for another day when we get nearer to that decision.

 

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If you have the handset and the rainfall head, and the diverter, you can do what I do. Select handset, aim it at the wall, turn on and retire until it's warmed through. With your radial setup it shouldn't take long anyhoo ?

Fyi, I'd never go for JUST the rainfall head as the spray / handset is too damn handy for washing the glass and tray down after showering. SWMBO may well agree ;)

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Well my £15 mixer arrived today.


 

Slight faux pas. Description on the bay wasn't too good. It turns out the outlet is on the top and a larger diameter thread. I suspect it was intended to connect to a rigid pipe to a fixed shower head, not a hose to a handheld.


 

Never mind, I soon discovered the outlet boss screws into the main body,and the thread in the body is nearly * the same size so I swapped them over from the old to the new.


 

All now working, and i won't grumble about the hose coming out of the top instead of out of the bottom.


 

* they were the same diameter thread but a slightly different pitch.  The boss should screw in, until it bottoms out on an O ring flange. But due to the slight thread pitch difference it only goes in about 3 turns and binds before the O ring reaches the flange.  Solved with ptfe tape. :ph34r:


 

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Up is the new trendy. When you see it on Grand Designs, remember you saw it here first.
 

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21 minutes ago, Barney12 said:

I don't understand. Water can't go uphill ;) 

It can if it saves Dave £100 ;)

:D

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On 16/09/2016 at 23:35, Nickfromwales said:

Flow rates can be much slower with cheaply ones, but tbh Dave, you're argument is undeniably simplistic and exactly right. That's the reason I didn't buy a £300-500 equivalent of the valve I fitted. image.jpg

That 3-way valve was around £80 complete :)  

This one is over £300 and I can't really see a difference. I guess I'm an inside man so can determine what's shat and what's not but with something as easy to change as a bar mixer valve, Daves logic is spot on.

 

 

 

Nick, I am currently looking for a similar 3-way valve......what make is your £80 valve and where can I get one......do you still recommend it?

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One similar

And another

Check out the related viewed items when you scroll down the Ebay page and you'll see others from different sellers, round and square etc. I can't get the one I bought up as Ebay purchase history doesn't go back far enough ( mine was fitted just before Xmas 2014 ). 

I can't say if any of the above linked items will serve you well, but check the feedback and % of the sellers as 19,000 sales and above 90% positive feedback is half about. Mine is still going strong, and I've no complaints but remember that I've kept back a dozen tiles and can change this over a weekend if needs be. My only word of caution is of you stray from a well known make, you'll maybe struggle for spares later down the road. For the £90 though, you can afford to buy two and have one for spares. Also, these valves are fully demountable ( not fully removable ) from the front plate inwards ( which you remove to gain access to the innards ) so you can easily swap out a failed part IF you have / can get one. 

Hope that helps. ?

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This one looks identical to mine, so maybe just gone up in price a bit. Decent seller and good statistics. 

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This is another area which is a bit of a minefield of varying costs :( 

 

In the last place we fitted Crosswater valves, they were expensive but very very good quality. 

http://www.tapwarehouse.com/product/DE2000RC?gclid=CNvy_qHltNICFUG4Gwodn5YNrA

 

I know I am a cynic but are eBay seller ratings really a guide of product quality? Ratings are generally left within weeks of purchase which gives no guide to longer term reliability? Also any guarantee offered by an eBay seller is all but worthless as I can't see how you have any redress through eBay or PayPal beyond your claim period (90days?) I might be wrong though?

 

As Nick said buying 2 or 3 is I guess an option for spares.

 

Personally if I see something on eBay which is by a large seller I look to see if they have a traditional web store. If they are selling the item for significantly less on eBay then I start to ask the question "why?". Yes it could be old stock but then equally I know owners of companies that get rid of "problem" stock through eBay as the chances of recourse are significantly reduced. 

If the price is similar then I will always buy through the standard web shop, proper invoice, direct sale, credit card purchase. 

As an example this would appear to be exactly the same item Nick linked to from the same company:

http://www.betterbathrooms.com/showers/shower-valves/ecos9-concealed-triple-control-shower-valve-with-diverter

 

As I said perhaps I'm just a cynic and wary of evilbay :) 

 

 

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