Motor Home Project: Replace Shower Faucet
Bushnell, FL - Events of Thursday, March 14, 2013
After we replaced the kitchen faucet last month because the steel support inside it had rusted out, the shower faucet was the only faucet in the motor home that had not been replaced (except for the outside shower in the wet bay that is like new because we seldom use it). Oddly enough, the faucet in the inside shower has long been the one that has been in the worst condition as far as appearance is concerned. About the second or third year we owned the motor home, the protective coating on the faucet started to flake off the handle, and the exposed metal took on a white, mottled appearance. After another year or so, the protective coating was gone from the entire faucet, and it looked pretty bad with mottling all over.
There are two reasons we never replaced the shower faucet until now. Even though we didn't like the way the faucet looked, we were the only ones who ever saw it, so replacing it wasn't mandatory because is didn't leak.
The second and most important reason we never replaced the shower faucet is Paul could not find anything suitable that would fit in its place. There are holes bored through the shower wall for the pipes that feed the faucet, and the spacing of those holes is 6" apart. Paul wanted to replace the faucet with a standard, residential, single-handle faucet, but he couldn't find one with a trim plate big enough to cover the holes for the existing pipes in the shower wall (about 7½" from the outside edge of one hole to the outside edge of the other) and not stick up above the lip of the small shelf above the faucet. We need a trim plate that is wider than it is tall. Paul found a couple of faucets with oval or rectangular trim plates, but all those plates are designed to be installed vertically so they wouldn't work.
Even though a single-handle faucet was our preference, Paul also investigated two-handle faucets. Those have a pipe spacing of either 4" or 8" rather than the 6" spacing of our old faucet. There are even faucets with adjustable spacing, but those start at 8" and adjust wider. Faucets with a spacing of 6" are rare.
Buying a new faucet from Tiffin would have satisfied both our desire for a single-handle faucet and our requirement for a 6" pipe spacing, but we weren't happy with the short amount of time the protective coating lasted on the original faucet. Therefore, Paul continued off and on for the past several to try to find an alternative. He has been looking in earnest ever since we replaced the kitchen faucet last month, but he still couldn't find any other faucet that would work.
Because a replacement faucet for the shower proved to be so hard to find, Paul finally decided to bite the bullet and call Tiffin on Monday. He was afraid if he put off replacing the faucet too long, the old faucet might no longer be available; and with no alternative to be found, we would be out of luck if the old one ever started to drip.
Tiffin had two of the original faucets in stock at a price of $116, which Paul thought was a little high given how quickly the finish on the original faucet started to deteriorate. Tiffin gave Paul the model number of the faucet so he could try to find a better price online himself, and they also offered to give Paul a 30% discount in the event he couldn't find a better price elsewhere. Now, that's customer service.
A search of the internet brought up only one other source - an eBay vendor who had the faucet for a "buy it now" price of only $20 plus $10 shipping. Sold! Paul placed the order.
The shower head was also in need of replacement. The holes clog easily due to hard water deposits. Although Paul has disassembled the shower head numerous times and soaked it in vinegar to remove the hard water deposits, some of the holes still didn't work, others sprayed water out at odd angles and yet others had become enlarged and just dribbled water. It's hard to see in the photo, but the front face of the shower head was also permanently etched and discolored, and the hose had several permanent dark spots on it.
The Oxygenics Body Spa shower head is highly rated by just about everyone, and especially by RVers because of the way it conserves water. It mixes air with the water so it can provide the feel of a strong spray while using less water. Although we don't boondock anymore, conserving water is still important to us because we only have a 10-gallon water heater. The Oxygenics shower head also has a non-clogging design, which should cut down maintenence with the variable water quality we run into as we travel. Paul placed an order from Amazon.com for the Oxygenics shower head right after he ordered the new faucet from eBay.
The shower head arrived from Amazon late in the day on Wednesday, and the faucet was scheduled to arrived around noon on Thursday. While we were waiting for the faucet, we decided to use the slight delay in its arrival as an excuse to take a drive to Yalaha Bakery in the morning. We'll tell you about Yalaha Bakery in our next post.
We stopped to pick up our packages in the mail room shortly after noon on our way back from Yalaha. Freeway helped Paul unpack the boxes.
The faucet was pretty easy to install. Since it was exactly the same as the old one, the water pipes lined up perfectly. There were only two connections to make, and both of them are right there in the shower within easy reach. The whole job, including connecting up the new shower head, only took about half an hour. The other good news is this is now the fourth plumbing project in a row without a leak on the first try.
Since finding a suitable alternative to the faucet Tiffin used for our motor home proved to be so difficult, Paul decided to hang onto the old faucet as a spare. That way he will have something to fall back on in the event the new faucet starts to leak someday and the original faucet or repair parts for it are no longer available. He experimented with trying to polish the old faucet using the Meguiar's polish he uses for our aluminum wheels. While polishing didn't make the old faucet look as good as the new one, the results are acceptable, and we would be able to use it in a pinch.
Looking for the replacement for the shower faucet was a lot bigger job than actually replacing the faucet, and it's nice to have the job out of the way. The new faucet looks great, and we hope the finish lasts longer than the original.
The new Oxygenics shower head looks good and works well to save water, but there are a couple of drawbacks. For one thing, we both prefer a finer spray than the Oxygenics shower head puts out, but that's just our preference. The other minor problem is with the angled design of the head. In the confines of a small RV shower, the angle puts the water outlet closer to your face than the old shower head, and the Oxygenics shower head sprays the water in a slightly more outward direction whereas the old one sprayed more or less straight down. We're hoping we get used to those minor inconveniences.
In our next post, we'll tell you all about our trip to Yalaha Bakery we mentioned earlier.