Q&A / 

Blowing Air Through a Shower Valve Video

Hi, I'm Tim Carter and I want to show you how to get water out a tub or shower faucet that has a modern cartridge. This is needed when you are winterizing a home. That way you won't come back in the Spring and find your cartridge blown-up by water that expanded inside the valve.

Here is a little gizmo I made out of some clear plastic tubing and some parts from a hardware store. One end is a simple Schrader Valve, like on a car or bicycle tire. This allows you to get air into the plastic tubing.

The other end has a half-inch female coupling, that will attach to the little goose-neck where your shower head comes out of the wall.

To use this device, the first thing you need to do is turn off the water in your house. Hopefully, down next to the water shutoff valve, the plumber installed a boiler drain on the house side of the valve. If not, you will have to find the lowest water faucet in your house. Once the water is off, open up both the hot and cold water valves on that fixture or open the boiler drain.

Now go around the entire house and open every cold and hot water valves. You have to flush every toilet and go outside and open every hose bib. Once all the fixtures are open, water will flow by gravity down to the lowest faucet or the boiler drain. If you do have a boiler drain, be sure the discharge water is directed to a floor drain. You might need to attach a hose to it.

Once the water is out of the system, there is still going to be some small amounts of water left in the faucet cartridges in the tubs and showers. Go to those rooms and take off the shower head. Make sure if it is a tub / shower combination that the diverter is in the up position. This will cause the air to go through the shower head.

Take off the shower head and attach the half-inch coupling to the goose-neck. Hand tighten it. Attach your bike pump or air source to the other end of the tubing. Turn the shower valve to the hot position and pump the pump a couple of times. Repeat this step with the valve in the cold position. Three or four pumps in each position should be good.

Next, adjust the valve to the center or warm position and pump some air. After doing this, you should have blown any small amounts of water out of the cartridges.

If you meet resistance when pumping the air into the system, this would indicate that the diverter is in the wrong position and you aren't getting any air through the faucet.

This will keep your faucet cartridges from freezing up over the winter while you are gone. You will be ready to hit the shower without having to replace the cartridge.


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