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How Long Do Shower Valves and Cartridges Last?

Shower cartridges and valves are vital fixtures in your shower. But hard water makes these devices’ metallic parts rust and wear out. Alternatively, mineral deposits around the shower valve and cartridge make them not work like before or cause leaks. This will necessitate frequent repairs or total replacement.

Therefore, how long do shower valves and cartridges last? Limescale buildup on your shower cartridges or valves is an issue you can’t escape if you only have access to hard water. So, expect these units to last for only 5 years. Corrosion and water leakages can also cause the inner parts to wear off quickly. Fortunately for people in soft water areas, these units can last between 20 to 30 years. 

How Long Can Shower Valves Last?

A shower valve is embedded within the bathroom wall to regulate the water flow, temperature, and output to your showerhead or tub spout. The lifespan of a shower valve can vary according to its type. Moreover, valves in soft water supply areas can even go up to 50 years, but those in mineral-teemed places have shorter periods of 5 to 6 years. Also, water leakages within the valve make the internal parts rust and wear out faster.

Types of Shower Valves and How Long They Last

Shower valves are classified mainly in 4 types;

Traditional Hot and cold Shower Valves

This shower valve has been around for ages. The valve draws hot and cold through the inlets, combines it then directs it to the showerhead plus faucet. Unlike modern ones controlled by one handle or knob, this one has 2 trims and 2 separate handles. Turn the handle on your right for cold water and the left for hot water.

A significant downside of this valve is the risk of scalding. For example, when you use the toilet and someone else opens a bathroom tap or flushes the toilet; this leads to a sudden temperature drop. This leads to scalding (water getting too hot) since the valve can’t support temperature fluctuations. For this reason, mixing valves are being discouraged in new buildings. 

Pressure Balancing Valve

Like the traditional valve, the pressure balancing valve uses the cold-to-hot water volume ratio to control the pressure and temperature. The pressure balancing spool inside makes this valve unique from the traditional valve as it helps to prevent scalding by adjusting the water accordingly. 

Instead of 2 handles, this unit has a single handle that can turn on the water, and then adjust the water volume and temperature. A pressure balancing valve can last more than 10 years in areas with soft water and about 5 years in hard water regions. 

Thermostatic Shower Valve

The thermostatic valve has a more advanced mechanical system than a pressure-balancing valve. This allows the valve to balance water pressure and temperature instantly. Therefore, hot water flows immediately when the valve is twisted, and you don’t have to wait for the water to warm up like in the traditional valve. This explains why thermostatic valves are expensive. The valve, however, has a short life span of around 4 years as it’s prone to debris accumulation or general wear.

Diverter Shower Valve

This valve uses a simple mechanism to divert water from your tub faucet to the shower head and can last for years. Simply put, one pipe is used to supply water to the tub and showerhead. This means that when you open the diverter, water will flow to the tub; however, there’s a part that redirects water to your showerhead. 

How Long Can Shower Cartridges Last?

Shower cartridges are used with shower valves to aid in regulating water flow and temperature. However, some shower valves can function without cartridges. The best part about cartridges is that they are easily replaceable and can last for over 20 years in softwater regions. Moreover, the cartridge’s lifespan can differ depending on its manufacturing brand.

Types of Shower Cartridges and Their Respective Lifespan

While there are many shower cartridges on the market, here are the famous brands;

Delta Shower Cartridges

Delta is a company that has gained customer trust because of its high-quality equipment and variety of features. Under normal soft water circumstances, Delta shower cartridges can last 30 to 40 years and are considered among the most durable options.

Moen Shower Cartridges

Moen is also a renowned manufacturer of shower cartridges and is the first company in the USA to make single-handle shower cartridges. Moen cartridges are tough, thus a better choice. But they have a shorter lifespan than the competitor brands of about 10 to 20 years. 

Reasons Why You Should Replace Your Shower Valve or Cartridge

A faulty shower valve or cartridge should be replaced to avoid causing further problems. Here are some warning signs to look for;

Water leakage

If you notice water leaking from the shower, the valve or cartridge is faulty. Failure to replace will make the other parts in the faucet rust. You will undoubtedly lose more water through the leaks and get high bills. 

Bad smell

Mold growth within a particular faucet will make your water smell bad. In most cases, the shower valve or cartridge needs to be replaced. If noticed early, the mold can be cleaned with bleach.

Reduced water pressure

A leaking valve, clogged shower cartridge, or worn-out devices cause decreased water volume in your shower. In all the scenarios, the defective item will need replacement.

Friction when rotating the shower handle

When you experience friction on the shower handle when adjusting the water temperature, it’s either due to rust or debris accumulation. Replace your shower cartridge or valve for better efficiency. 

After how long should a shower cartridge be replaced?

Different manufacturers have specific timelines for cartridge replacement. But if it’s not stated, you can replace the cartridge after 12 months from purchase. 

Can you use a Moen shower valve in place of a Delta valve?

Not possible. This is because both companies make faucets of precise fittings and sizes. Therefore, Delta and Moen shower valves or cartridges are interchangeable. 

Factors like rust, mineral buildup, or water leakage are the leading causes of why shower valves and cartridges fail. However, their brand and material construction will determine whether they will last long.

Generally, shower valves can last up to 30 years, and cartridges can last up to 40 years. Any faulty device should be replaced to restore the temperature and water flow.