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  • Freddy Dopfel

In Search of a Hot Shower

Like many people renting in older buildings, there never seems to be enough hot water, and my apartment is no exception. I had always assumed that this was just because other people were trying to shower at the same time as me, but recent events challenged that assumption. I was up late feeling sick and decided that a 4AM hot shower might help me feel better, but even though I was almost certainly the only person in the building showering at that time, the water was still only lukewarm at best.

So I decided that the heat wasn't a problem of usage, but rather a problem of the plumbing. Was it possible the water heater temperatures were too low? (Surely other tenants in the building would be complaining). Instead, I decided to test a different theory: could it be something wrong with the shower itself?

What if the shower was designed to limit how hot the water could get? The shower manufacturer may put in limits to make sure that it would be impossible for even the most determined idiot to burn themselves with hot water. Or the city could set in regulations for maximum temperature, just as they did for maximum flow rates.

My perfectly typical shower knob

There was only one way to find out: by disassembling the shower. I'm no stranger to plumbing, having previously replaced my low-flow shower heads and added extending necks so that the water falls from above me, rather than at the level of my chest #TallPeopleProblems. However, this project would require something different: going into the walls, which makes this a lot more difficult. Fortunately, most shower controls are actually held together by screws, so I took out my handy iFixit tool kit and started getting to work.

(Note: the tile was intentionally broken during installation, not by me)

Two screws held the face plate in, and a few more hidden screws underneath the handle allowed me remove all the key components. I discovered that most of the front-facing components were simply there to turn a small brass dial, and that the limits of its rotation were determined by another small brass limiting piece (see below). I discovered that the brass limiter was positioned such that there was a large "dead zone" of about 30 degrees where the user could keep turning the handle after water was off, but was limited well before the water would get hot.

So the solution was simple: adjusting the limiter 30 degrees counterclockwise would allow the handle to fully turn off the water without any dripping, yet get almost a "quarter turn" more of hot water. So after adjusting the limiter, and reassembling, the handle, I FINALLY got the opportunity to take a glorious hot shower, and for the first time, fog up my bathroom mirror. 10/10 would recommend for anyone wanting to increase their shower temperature.

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