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Showers offer a convenient and hygienic method of washing. They are instantaneous, convenient, time
saving, economical and space saving. They can work from either a stored water supply or via a combination
boiler (mains pressure).
This How-To guide explains the installation of a basic mixer shower working off either an indirect hot and
cold water supply or direct hot and mains cold water supply. Providing water and waste pipes are handy,
then installing a shower cubicle is quite a straightforward project.
HOW-TO INSTALL A SHOWER CUBICLE
• Shower tray
• Shower cabinet door
• Shower controls
• Shower head
• Copper pipe and fittings
• Plastic waste pipe and fittings
• Sawn soft wood for studding, impregnated with
preservative, 50mm x 75mm
• Sawn soft wood for supports, impregnated with
preservative, 25mm x 150mm
• Exterior-grade plywood, 18mm for shower tray
support and 9mm for partitioning
• PVA waterproof adhesive
• Silicone sealant
• Wood-screws, countersunk and plated No. 8
/4 in and No.10 3
• Wire nails, 100mm
• Plasterboard screws, 32mm
• Spirit levels, 1200mm, 600mm and 225mm
• Claw hammer, 16oz or 20oz
• Flooring or electrician’s bolster chisel, 60mm
• Bricklayer’s bolster chisel, 100mm
• Combination try square
• Steel tape measure
• Ruler, 300mm
• HB pencil
HOW- TO 2
• Blowtorch and heatproof cloth
• Electric drill with hammer action, plus wood and
• Electric jigsaw or hand saw
• Mastic frame gun
• Club hammer
• J unior hacksaw
• 2 x adjustable wrenches, 200mm and 255mm
• Adjustable basin spanner
• Pozidrive Nos 1 and 2 screwdrivers
• Plain slot screwdrivers, 6mm, 8mm and 9.5mm
• Builder’s trowel
• Craft knife
• Copper tube cutter
• Round file, medium cut
• Half round file, medium cut
• Frame fixings, 125mm x 8mm
• Solder, flux and wire wool
• Tiles, adhesive and grout
• Fine sand and cement for bedding down and
levelling the shower tray
TOOLS FOR PLUMBING
BEFORE YOU START
Please refer to How-To: Understand How your Water and Heating Systems; Work with Soil and Waste
Systems; Work with Copper or Plastic Pipes; Build a Stud Partition Wall; Fix Ceramic Wall Tiles; Replace
or Install an Electric Shower; Install an Extractor Fan
Survey the hot and cold water systems that will feed your shower. Investigate the direction of floor and ceiling
joists for fixings in the proposed shower area. You will need to know this in order to run waste pipes and find fixing
points for the stud wall. Floor joists must not be notched to accept waste pipes. Buy your tray, screens and show-
er units. Familiarise yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sketches of the shower unit with all the
measurements shown in these instructions. Plan the order of work.
WATER AND BUILDING BY-LAWS
The key water by-law concerning showers covers avoiding back-syphonage. A shower supplied by mains pressure
water must be incapable of any back-syphonage of contaminated water into the mains supply. This could occur if
the showerhead (on a flexible hose) became immersed in water and there was a sudden drop in mains pressure.
To prevent back-syphonage, you must include a double-check valve in the direct hot and cold water supply pipes
leading to the shower unit (F2) A flexible shower hose must be fitted with a restrictor to prevent it from dangling
in the shower tray or bath (F1A and F1B).
HOW- TO 3
Building Regulations require that all shower areas have fan-assisted extraction. Opening the windows is not sufficient.
Excessive condensation will cause mould growth, timber decay and deterioration of decorations. All work carried
out should be in accordance with Building Regulations and IEE (Institution of Electrical Engineers) Wiring Regulations.
Extractor fans should always be located as high as possible in the wall, ceiling or window nearest the steam.
They should be as far away as possible from the main source of air replacement. See How-To: Install an
Regulations stipulate that, apart from a purpose made shaver socket, mains socket outlets cannot be fitted in a
bathroom and that any switches for lights, showers and extractor fans must be ceiling mounted and operated by
pull cords. Similar regulations are applied to a shower cubicle in a bedroom (F3).
WASTE PIPES AND TRAPS
Waste pipes must have a ‘fall’ (slope) of 18-22mm per 1m run.
Building Regulations demand that a minimum of 25mm of water is retained in the trap after loss of water due
to evaporation and pressure fluctuations. To this end, a trap seal depth of 75mm is required for traps used in
conjunction with the 40mm pipes used for showers.
Any type of trap may be used, provided there is room to fit it. Remember to allow adequate access for maintenance.
This means that either the shower tray must be raised onto a 150mm high plinth with an access trap or an access
trap is fitted in the ceiling below. A ‘P’ bath trap is ideal in this situation (F4).
If you need both bath and shower facilities in a small space, consider installing a shorter bath containing a built-in
seat with a shower over it.
HOW- TO 4
Alternatively, provided the shower has constant regular use, a shallow seal shower trap with a top access removable
waste grid may be fitted (F6A) or a shallow bath trap (F6B). These traps, however, only have a 19mm seal and
do not comply with 25mm minimum seal rule. This problem can be overcome in the following ways:
1 A trailing waste pipe, no longer than 2.5m, into a hopper or gully may be installed. This is only permissible in a
building with a two-pipe waste system built before 1965 (F6).
2 A ‘running trap’ with a 75mm seal can be installed into the waste pipe adjacent to the shower, in addition to the
shallow shower trap (F7). This will give a good seal, while the shower trap is used to trap the usual detritus from
3 An air admittance valve may be fitted to a 25mm vent pipe and situated above the flood level of the highest appli-
ance in the system (F7). To reduce evaporation, ensure that no hot appliances or pipes run close to the trap.
BASIC MIXER SHOWER SYSTEMS
F1 shows a typical low pressure system (hot and cold water via storage tanks) for which you must have a minimum
head of 1m (the distance between the highest point of the shower head and the bottom of the cold water storage
tank). Head X =poor pressure; head Y =good pressure.
To achieve good pressure at head X, you may have to raise the water tank (F5). If this is impracticable, the addition
of a pressure pump increases the level of pressure.
HOW- TO 5
When a pump is fitted, the following capacities are required:
1 230 litres minimum stored cold water (preferably 318 litres).
2 270 litres minimum stored hot water.
A mixer shower must have both hot and cold water supplied at equal pressure. Do not mix mains pressure and
stored water supplies.
F2 shows a shower supplied by a direct hot and cold water supply.
You must buy a shower mixer unit suitable for use with direct mains pressure water.
MI XER SHOWERS
Mixer showers are wall-mounted valves that take hot and cold water at mains or low pressure and supply a wall-
mounted showerhead via flexible or fixed piping. They can be supplied by surface mounted piping. The pipes may
be hidden inside any adjacent cupboard or concealed within the cubicle construction. The valve unit may be
recessed or surface mounted.
Mixer showers are available with thermostatic control at extra cost (F1B and F2). This is well worth having,
unless you are prepared to run a dedicated cold water supply (F1A) to the unit to prevent the risk of scalding
when cold water is drawn off elsewhere in the house.
If you have direct (mains pressure) water supplies, check that any mixer tap you buy is suitable for high pressure
SHOWER ENCLOSURES AND TRAYS
There are a variety of shower enclosures (F8). The simplest unit consists of a door panel plus side panel or panels.
When using only a door panel, the shower may be enclosed on the other three sides by tiled walls.
Shower trays are available in acrylic or stone-resin and in various shapes and sizes.
Stone-resin tray sizes Length Width Height
760mm 760mm 760mm 100mm
800mm 800mm 800mm 100mm
1200 rectangular 1200mm 760mm 100mm
900mm pentagonal 900mm 900mm 100mm
800mm quadrant 810mm 810mm 120mm
900mm quadrant 895mm 895mm 100mm
Acrylic tray sizes Length Width Height
760mm 760mm 760mm 190mm
800mm 800mm 800mm 190mm
HOW- TO 6
Making the tray water-tight is vital. The tray should be chopped into the wall. The tiles must overlap the rim and
any gaps sealed with silicone sealant (mastic) against leakage (F4).
The tray should be set on a bed of fine sand and cement on top of firmly fixed 18mm exterior-grade shuttering
plywood (F4). Ensure that the top edges are level (F4) and that the inside of the base has a fall (slope) towards
the drain hole.
DO NOT confuse base size with rim size. Chopping in and tiling reduces the effective rim size of the tray. This
reduces the size of the shower cabinet, which will sit on the tray rim. Shower enclosure doors are adjustable within
a range of sizes, BUT the side screens must be the correct size.
A false stud partition wall can create a shower space in a bathroom, bedroom or cloakroom. Only a shower door
and frame are required to complete the enclosure.
A stud partition is constructed from 50mm x 75mm sawn timber impregnated with preservative. Plywood (9mm
exterior grade) is fixed to both sides if they are to be tiled. If the outside is to have other decoration, then plaster-
board may be applied. Use 32mm plasterboard screws to fix the panels.
All services can be contained within the stud partition (F9). Note that the showerhead unit can be offset to keep
the flexible hose clear of the mixer valve. Note how boards are provided for fixing the shower unit and abutting
the shower tray. This enables a good mastic seal round the tray (F9).
Do not fit the outside skin (the covering of the stud partition) until the plumbing has been completed and checked
HOW- TO 7
It may be necessary to incorporate a maintenance hatch in the outside skin for some types of mixer showers.
Once the plumbing and tiling are completed, the doorframe and door can be fitted and sealed with silicone.
Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions exactly.
A corner unit (F8) with side-screen and door may be fitted. Entry may be from either side. Alternatively, a corner
entry may be selected.
The tray is chopped into the wall and the cabinet interior tiled on two sides only. The shower cabinet must sit
completely on the flat top of the rim, which must be level. All the frames must be vertical and the outside
edges bedded down onto silicone sealant – follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly. In a bedroom,
tiling would be inside the cabinet only. In a tiled bathroom, the cabinet could be fixed over the tiling.
Use silicone sealant to ensure that gaps round the frame are watertight. The frame must not be sealed around
the inside bottom edges where it sits on the tray rim.
Before buying components consider these questions:
1 Where will the tray be placed?
2 How big can it be?
3 How will it be drained?
4 Will the trap and pipe fit under the tray and floor, while still being accessible for cleaning?
5 Will the shower tray need to be raised?
6 How can I gain access to the soil pipe? Can I have ‘hopper’ drainage?
7 How big will the rim size of the tray be after fitting and tiling?
8 Is there a cabinet or door and frame to suit this measurement?
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