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Why Is It So Hard To Get My Shower Temperature Just Right?


Your morning shower time is precious.

And yet your daily shower routine starts with a 3-minute battle with your faucet as you frantically search for a suitable water temperature.

Wondering why it’s so hard to get your shower temperature just right?

Well, this issue is likely tied to the type of shower mixing valve you have.

If the above shower-faucet-war sounds familiar, you’re probably using a pressure-balancing mixing valve.

The solution? Switch to a thermostatic mixing valve.

Let’s take a closer look at both these valves and how they operate differently.

Pressure-balancing vs. thermostatic mixing valves

Pressure-balancing and thermostatic valves are the two main types of mixing valves.

So what exactly is a “mixing valve”?

A shower mixing valve is installed into the faucet and is responsible for balancing the mix of hot and cold water before it reaches you.

Both pressure-balancing and thermostatic valves are considered “anti-scald” valves, which means they protect against sudden and dangerous temperature changes (i.e. when the toilet flushes).

So how exactly are they different?

  • Pressure-balancing mixing valves: Typically uses just one shower handle to control both water temperature and water flow.
  • Thermostatic mixing valves: Usually use two handles —one that controls water flow and one that controls water temperature.

The two valves also differ in the way they mix incoming hot and cold water:

Pressure-balancing valves sense and respond to changes in water pressure to maintain the temperature of your shower water.

For example, as you turn the faucet handle closer toward the HOT side, a pressure-balancing valve will respond by increasing the hot water pressure and decreasing the cold water pressure.

A thermostatic mixing valve, on the other hand, senses and controls the water temperature to a specific temperature.

There are various kinds of thermostatic mixing valves. Some contain a wax device that expands and contracts in response to changes in water temperature. Others use an internal thermostat that reads and controls the water temperature.

So now that we know how the two work, let’s look at why a thermostatic mixing water valve provides better shower temperatures.

Why a thermostatic mixing valve gives you better showers

A thermostatic mixing valve offers an overall improved showering experience because it offers:

  • More precise and consistent temperatures. Unlike a pressure-balancing valve, thermostatic valves control the water temperature to a specifically calculated temperature instead of simply balancing hot and cold water pressure. And the best part? Because a thermostatic valve uses two handles, you can set the water temperature handle at the most comfortable position and leave it there for years.
  • Safer temperatures. Thermostatic valves have the ability to limit the maximum temperature that reaches you. That means even if your hot water heater is set to 140 degrees (a dangerous temperature that can cause scalding in just 5 seconds), you can pre-set a thermostatic valve to never deliver hot water over 110 degrees (a safe, comfortable shower temperature).
  • Complete control over water flow. A thermostatic valve gives you the ability to increase or decrease the water flow to your liking. This option allows homeowners to conserve water while shampooing or soaping up. A pressure-balancing valve, however, doesn’t offer control over water flow. Once you turn the single lever on the water flow is at 100% at all times.
  • Consistent water pressure. Let’s say someone flushes the toilet while you’re showering. Because a thermostatic valve controls water flow, it prevents a drop in water pressure when other water-using appliances are in use.

One thing to remember is that most thermostatic mixing valves are more expensive than pressure-balancing valves. Depending on the brand and type, thermostatic mixing valve prices average around $100.

Need a Minneapolis-St. Paul plumber to install a thermostatic valve?

If you’re ready to upgrade your showering experience, MSP is here to help you install your thermostatic mixing valve.

Just contact us today and we’ll send out one of our experts to handle the replacement for you.