Shower head trickle when filling tub

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Old 09-06-09, 09:47 PM
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Shower head trickle when filling tub

With the assistance of the search feature of this forum, I’ve found some abstract background to my issue, so here are some specifics. In short, almost complete with a bath remodel, but when I fill the tub a noticeable trickle of water also comes out of the shower at the same time. If anyone learns anything from this thread it is to check for this happening BEFORE they put up their backer board or other surround.

Here are some points that anyone having ideas would be greatly appreciated (these basically answers to many of the questions derived from other threads)

This problem did not occur with the previous tub and faucet. Note that the faucet was lower than my new installation. I raised the faucet handle to be more convenient for shower users (more common) and recommendations from my shower surround and their web site photo. As you’ll see below, I feel there is ample difference here to thwart gravity but could be wrong.

I’m using a MOEN shower faucet from a big box store. The MOEN recommendations are tub outlet at 21-26 inch high, faucet at 32, and shower head at 78 inches. My settings are at 25, 36, 79 ½.

The water supply to the house is on the floor immediately and effectively directly under the bath. So it goes up 8 feet from the basement into the first floor and then 90 degree over and connects to the faucet.

When I turn ¼ turn cold water comes out of the tub spout and nothing out of the shower head as expected. When I turn ½ turn thus adding hot water and more water flow then after about 10 seconds a good trickle comes out of the shower head.

The pull up diverter is all the way down and works the shower as expected when pulled up.

The problem occurs no matter what type of shower head is attached.

If I remove the tub spout and have only the tub nipple alone the problem still occurs and there is good flow of water coming out of the nipple likely meaning that the diverter not the culprit.

Since I turn ¼ turn and get cold water and the more I turn I get hot water, it is assumed the faucet is not connected upside down or sideways. And why would that matter if upside down?

So as I understand it gravity is supposed to be my friend and have the water go through the tub spout and not rise up to the shower. The manufacture recommends a 46 inch difference (78 minus 32) between faucet and shower head. Mine is 43 ½ inches. Could the 2 ½ inch difference in manufacture recommendation be the culprit? Apparently not…

Since I was “so sure” this difference between faucet and the shower head was the culprit I extended this difference by making a 90 degree connection about 30 inches above the faucet and then bring the shower up and then down into the shower head. So while the shower head remains at 78 from the floor, the water travels up an additional 9-10 inches (and then drops down). If this didn’t make sense, draw a capital letter P in block format and that is effectively what I did from the faucet to the shower head (using 4 elbows). The point is that there would effectively be a 53 inch upward climb for the water to get up high enough to get to the shower. After burning today doing this, I turn on the water. My ¼ turn worked as expected. My ¾ turn adding hot water worked too. I was thrilled. Then I pulled up on the diverter and the shower worked. Problem is every time I turn on the water now, the problem of the trickle coming out of the shower head is there again.

So what gives?

Could this really be a problem with my water having too much pressure in my house? If so, then why did this not happen with the previous install? How can I reduce the pressure and will that make showers less powerful?

The only other variables to this that I need to throw in for total story is that I replaced nearly all of the copper so the pipes are cleaner. Also, all of the connections to the faucet are threaded. And all connections I did to the water supply, tub spout, and to the shower head are use with “shark bite” non solder connections. Now before you tell me to check my man card at the door, please note that the access to the plumbing in the baths of my house is through the attic and then shimmy to a crawl area that is less than 32x32. I had a number of pro plumbers fail to even remove the faucet and other repairs that led me to DIY this project and the thought of a blowtorch in this cramped space was a certain ticket to a call to the local fire department.
 
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Old 09-07-09, 08:04 AM
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When the spout is off water should be pounding against the back wall of the tub from the spout nipple. Anything less and there is a blockage or restriction in the faucet housing or the drop pipe itself.

Using a sharkbite on the connection to the spout is a new one for me so I'd look there first.

The spacing of the spout and shower head only matters slightly. Anything over a few feet would be more than enough as long as there is no restriction between the faucet and spout.
 
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Old 09-07-09, 10:58 AM
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Thanks for the quick reply. When the spout is off and only the nipple the water comes out about 1/2 way across the tub. If I remove the nipple and which effectively makes it so that only the drop and the 90 degree connection is there it does shoot across to the tub back wall with some good force.

There is nothing special about the nipples and they are free and clear. What in the world could the nipple connection be doing to cause the significant cut down in water pressure? Or is it that the pressure coming down from the drop may still not be enough?

My next recourse will be to try to remove the current drop and put in a more traditional one and hopefully make the proper pressure one might expect.
 
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Old 09-07-09, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by BillyDIY View Post
My next recourse will be to try to remove the current drop and put in a more traditional one and hopefully make the proper pressure one might expect.
I'd do this. Without seeing the exact setup I can't even guess why a nipple would cut down flow so much.
 
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Old 02-13-10, 10:17 PM
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I had this same problem with a shark bite, but we didn't realize it until _after_ we put the tile up.

After reading this thread, I figured the shark bite was the problem. We managed to make it stop leaking by widening the inside of the shark bite with a 1/2" drill bit. It seems happy now.
 
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