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All About the RV Shower Head Shut Off Valve

Taking a shower in your RV can actually be a nice experience, especially if you are’t a fan of hotel bathrooms or the showers and baths offered at RV and semi rest stops. Having your own private bathroom is a nice step to peace of mind that you can get cleaned up without paying extra. 

RV showers also have a relatively unusual feature in their shower head shut off valve. Why would an RV shower head need a shut off valve?

The RV shower head shut off valve primarily does one thing: it turns on and off the flow of water to your RV shower head. We’ll explain why would you need this below.

Why would I need a RV shower head shut off valve?

We are asking this question for a clear reason: Most homes do not have a shut off valve for their shower head. At most, shower heads at home tend to have a dial that controls the type of spray you receive from the shower head. Otherwise the shower head is a water pipe that comes out of the shower wall in just the right spot.

Homes also tend to be hooked up to an external city water system that provides all the water you request, then bills you for it later.

RV owners tend to be more concerned with water use because they have to drive somewhere and fill up the fresh water tank, which also provides water for their dishes, drinking, and any other water appliances they might have.

Part of a showering method change

People who have had RVs for a while tend to shower a little differently than people at home. In an attempt to conserve water, they have been known to shut off the water while shampooing their hair or when doing anything that doesn’t involve actively rinsing.

What’s the difference between a regular water shut off valve and an RV shower head shut off valve?

A water shut off valve for a sink or toilet tends to be under the sink or behind the toilet – hidden. The valve also tends to turned like a screw to shut off the water supply, though often just over a quarter of the way to turn it off completely.

An RV water shut off valve is often attached directly to the shower head – even on the handle when available, and is available at button push. The button is much easier to access than a normal shut off valve because it’s meant to be pushed the moment after you start sudsing up

How much water does it really save?

This depends on your habits. If you plan to use a shower head shut off valve whenever you aren’t actively rinsing, you’ll certainly save enough water over time to make it worth it. Shutting off a steady flow of water can certainly help you retain more water in your fresh water tank.

Saving water in the shower is akin to filling your sink with water while doing dishes instead of letting it continuously run. You don’t really need to keep the water running while putting shampoo in your hair. While soaping up and rinsing at the same time saves time, it also might not moisturize as well, especially if you are using moisturizing soap.

What other kinds of shut off valves are there?

Rather than installing the shut off valve in the handle, it’s also possible for an RV to come with a shut off valve that works more like a faucet.

A shut off valve can be installed halfway up the shower wall and cut off water to the shower head when you reach and turn it. This valve acts more like a traditional shut off valve and has a large hand turnable screw or a lever. The difference here is that more water will be stored between the valve and the head itself, so more water will come out. This is still effective for saving water though, and some might find it easier than a handheld shut off valve.

Do RVs come with shut off valves?

They often do, as RV manufacturers are conscience of water usage. Otherwise, a hand shut off valve, often with a coiled shower head, is easy to install. 

The in wall shut off valve might require opening your shower up a bit more and require some more expertise for average RV owners.

A hand shut off valve is by far easier and cheaper to install. 

Any downsides to RV shut off valves?

Potentially. Have you ever been blasted with cold or hot water when turning on or off your home shower? Honestly, probably not.

Turning the water off to your shower means that more water is stored, even in a small space. The water once you turn it back on might be pretty hot or cold depending on how long it’s been. 

Are you going to get a hot or cold blast? Depends on which pressure is higher. You can install a check valve for your hot water to prevent this issue – though it’s just a minor inconvenience so long as your hot water heater isn’t turned up so high it would burn you in the first place.

Also, a shot of cold water isn’t a bad way to wake up!

Conclusion

Water shut off valves for RVs are a little unusual compared to your home, but they are actually much more convenient and can certainly help you refill your water less often. Rather than hiding a screw shut off beneath your sink or behind the toilet, the shut off is readily accessible while you are showering and the best ones are a push button shut off that just uses your thumb.

As mentioned a moment ago, you could experience a hot or cold blast when turning it back on. The best way to avoid having your cold or hot water become unmixed in the shower is to install a check valve for your hot water.

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