If your bathroom is not big enough to accommodate a tub and a shower stall, you can still enjoy both with a shower over the tub. Tub and shower combination installations can save you space and money. They also allow you to switch from a refreshing shower to a soothing bath whenever you want. However, one thing to pay attention to is the distance between the tub spout and valve.
Each manufacturer has a recommended distance between the tub spout and valve, and you should respect it when installing the fittings. If your tub spout and shower valve don’t come with specific instructions, keep a distance between six and 11 inches. Otherwise, water may be coming out of the showerhead when you’re using the spout.
What’s The Ideal Distance Between Tub Spout And Shower Valve?
The ideal distance between the tub spout and shower valve is six to 11 inches. Are you now wondering how to rough in your shower over the tub? Know that the tub spout should sit about four inches above the tub’s rim.
Thus, the tub spout is usually placed at about 18 to 20 inches above the floor in a standard installation. The shower valve usually sits at about 26 to 28 inches. This leaves the showerhead at a height of 72 inches or more.
The distances above usually work with all shower over tub fittings. However, some brands may have specific requirements for the distance between the tub spout and the shower valve. For this reason, we always recommend reading the installation instructions and respecting the distances required by the manufacturer.
Failure in doing so may result in water leaking from the showerhead when you’re using the spout. Residual water may also remain trapped on the pipes and drip from the faucet after you’ve used the tub.
What Happens If The Distance Between Tub Spout And Shower Valve Is Shorter Or Longer Than Recommended?
To understand what can happen if the distance between the tub spout and shower valve is shorter or longer than recommended, you must understand the plumbing system behind it.
Shower over tub installations have a main water pipe that connects to the faucet before extending to the showerhead. A diverter installed on the spout diverts water from the spout to the shower when you close it.
When the shower diverter is open, the water flows through the faucet into the tub. When you want to use the shower, the closed diverter prevents water from flowing through the spout and increases the pressure to direct the water to the showerhead.
If the distance between the shower valve and diverter is shorter or longer than recommended, the diverter may build pressure even when it is open (directing water to the faucet). In this case, you may notice water dripping from the shower as you’re using the faucet.
Likewise, the diverter may build more pressure than necessary but not enough to lead to a leaking showerhead. However, the residual water in the shower pipe will have to come out in some way, and it will usually cause the tub spout to drip after you’ve filled the tub.
Before going into full panic mode thinking that your tub spout and shower valve are spaced incorrectly, know that the same leaks can happen due to a clogged or worn-out diverter valve. Thus, you should measure the distances and check the valve before planning a larger bathroom remodeling.
How To Fix The Leaks
The wrong distance between the tub spout and shower valve could cause the showerhead to leak when you’re using the spout. However, those leaks could also happen because of a faulty diverter valve. Here’s what you can do about it.
1. Inspect and clean the diverter lever
In most modern bathrooms, tub fixtures have a tee diverter with a single valve controlled by a knob on top of the faucet that you can pull or push to open or close it. Mineral buildup and debris can sometimes get stuck under the knob and prevent the valve from fully opening when you want to use the faucet.
If this happens, the partially open valve will direct some of the water to the showerhead, causing it to drip.
To inspect the diverter knob, pull it up completely and look at the area under it. If it is dirty or full of scale, clean it with white vinegar or white vinegar and baking soda. Once it’s clean, push it down all the way to open the valve and turn on the spout.
Wait for a couple of minutes to see if the showerhead starts dripping. If it doesn’t, you have found the culprit and solved the problem.
2. Replace the diverter
The easiest way to replace the diverter is by replacing the spout and diverter together (in most cases, you won’t be able to replace only the diverter anyway).
Check your fitting brand and model and buy an identical spout. If you have a discontinued model, remove the spout and measure the length of the supply from the wall to the tip. Write down these measurements and use them at the home improvement store to buy the right size spout.
Once you have the new spout, wipe the ends of the supply pipe with a clean cloth to remove any debris, then wrap the threads with the plumber’s tape. You should also seal the gap between the wall hole and the supply pipe with silicone caulk to prevent water from leaking behind the wall when you’re using the tub or shower.
Slide the new spout on the supply pipe and secure it with the setscrew. Tighten the screw by hand initially, then use a pair of pliers with the jaws wrapped in Teflon tape to tighten it completely without damaging the new fitting.
Test the new spout and see if the showerhead still drips when you’re using the faucet. If it does, the distance between the spout and the shower valve is likely too short or too long.
3. Adjust the distance between the tub spout and shower valve
Use a ruler to measure the distance from the spout to the middle of the shower plate, which is where the valve is located. If it is shorter than six inches or longer than 11 inches, it is likely the reason why your showerhead drips when you’re using the spout.
There is little to do in this case except relocating the spout or the shower valve. If you’re unsure what to do, hire a plumber to fix the problem for you.
Paying attention to the rough-in distances when installing a tub and shower combo is crucial. The wrong distance between the spout and the shower valve can cause leaks. The same types of leaks could also be caused by a faulty diverter valve. Hopefully, this guide can help you identify the culprit and solve the issue.