How Does a Shower Work?

So, how does a shower work? Well, it’s pretty easy! You turn on the tap, get the temperature right and stand under warm water for however long you need while thinking about life’s biggest problems.

We hate to say it, but there’s a little more to shower plumbing than that. Behind the scenes, there’s a world of fixtures, fittings and drainage.

We’re not planning to provide a boring rundown of the mechanics, no. We want to give easy explanations so you can be better prepared the next time you need to call a plumber.

What’s behind the wall?

Starting with the basics, typically you’ll find these components behind a shower wall:

  • Pressure balancing valve (Tempering valve) or Thermostatic mixing valve
  • Cold water supply
  • Hot water supply
  • Showerhead riser

Let’s start with an easy explanation. Hot and cold water supply pipes separately funnel water into the pressure-balancing valve. There it’s mixed together when you turn on the taps and sent up the showerhead riser and out of your showerhead.

The valve is where everything gets a little more technical. Inside, it keeps the hot and cold water separate until you’re ready for them to mix and turn the taps.

Another great feature is the way it constantly maintains water pressure and temperature. When someone flushes a toilet or does the dishes you won’t feel the temperature plummet thanks to a pressure-balancing valve.

A thermostatic mixing valve works slightly differently, though. Temperature is controlled by a thermostatic element or sensor which has your desired water temperature dialled in already. That means no chance of an unexpected scalding.

What’s up with my shower drain?

Your shower drain is more than a hole in the ground. If you could see the whole drainage setup you’d find a:

  • Drain trap, either an S or P shape
  • Drain pipe
  • Reducer or reducing coupling
  • Drain riser pipe
  • Main vent stack

The drain trap is either P or S shaped for optimum flow and hygiene. It catches all the bits of soap, hair and whatever else flows down the drain. Depending on your trap, you may be able to easily remove it for cleaning.

The P and S shapes also allow for water to pool at the bottom, forming a watertight seal that prevents unwanted sewer smells from sneaking into the bathroom.

Staying on nasty odours, the main vent stack also helps keep your bathroom smelling fresh. The vent stack runs out of the piping, through the wall and eventually pops out of the roof. Allowing air to flow through means the water flows more freely and no gasses build up.

How does the showerhead work?

Your showerhead is where the real variety comes in. Much of it comes down to the look and functionality, but there is an increasing amount of low-flow, environmentally friendly options available.

Inside the showerhead faucet, the aerator determines the maximum water pressure. It also influences the two common ways water comes out:

  • Aerating: water mixes with air, creating wider coverage with a more mist-like spray
  • Laminar-flow: water is separated into individual streams for a direct approach

Now, when it comes to the actual showerhead, that’s up to you.

Wall-mounted showerheads are your traditional style, while handheld showerheads provide versatility and convenience, rainfall showers give you a tropical resort feel, while something like a filtered showerhead ensures you have the cleanest water possible.

Metropolitan Plumbing are the shower plumbing experts

Are you after shower repairs, a new showerhead installation or any other bathroom plumbing services? Call the customer service team at Metropolitan Plumbing and we’ll have a licensed and experienced plumber on the road with our same day service promise!


Published: 10 Jul, 2020

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