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Understanding Exposed Showers

This guide delves into the world of exposed shower mixers, exploring their advantages, considerations, and how they can elevate your shower experience. We’ll equip you with the knowledge to determine if these classic valves are the perfect fit for your bathroom.

Exposed shower mixers, also known as manual or external shower valves, offer a classic and straightforward approach to shower control, making and installing them a popular choice for many homeowners in London.

Here’s a complete, comprehensive guide to these mixers, helping you decide if they’re the perfect fit for your dream shower:

What is an Exposed Shower?


Unlike concealed showers with shower valves hidden behind the wall, exposed shower mixers showcase their functionality with the valve body and controls mounted directly onto the shower wall.

This creates a traditional and familiar aesthetic, often featuring two separate levers or knobs – one for hot water and another for cold. By adjusting these levers, you manually mix the hot and cold water to achieve your desired temperature.

new shower mixer fitting

How does an exposed shower mixer work?


It offers a straightforward and easy-to-understand approach to controlling your shower temperature.

They operate water pressure and temperature separately, allowing users to adjust their preferred shower heat and pressure. The thermostatic control installed ensures a consistent and safe showering experience. They deliver a precise temperature every time, using bi-metallic thermostatic technology. Here’s how it works in detail:

Internal Mechanism:

  • The exposed shower mixer houses two internal cartridges, one for hot water and one for cold water.
  • These cartridges are connected to separate inlets for your hot and cold water supply lines. ( concealed counterparts)

External Controls:

  • On the polished chrome exposed part of the valve, you’ll typically find two separate levers or knobs – one for hot water and another for cold water.
  • These levers or knobs are connected to spindles that control hot and cold water from their respective cartridges.

Mixing the Magic:

  • By turning the hot water lever, you increase the flow of hot water entering the mixing chamber within the valve.
  • Conversely, turning the cold water lever increases the flow of cold water into the mixing chamber.
  • There’s no single “mixing lever” here. You control the temperature by adjusting the balance between hot and cold water flow through these individual levers.

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Safety Features of Exposed Shower Valves

Most exposed valves are thermostatically controlled to prevent sudden changes in temperature. Thermostatic control ensures a consistent and safe showering experience. Exposed shower valves with thermostatic control are a safer option for showering. They provide a precise temperature every time, using bi-metallic thermostatic technology.


Delivering the Perfect Temperature:

  • The mixed water from the chamber then flows out to your showerhead or other outlets.
  • By adjusting the hot and cold levers simultaneously, you can achieve the desired water temperature for your shower.

Thermostatic vs. Manual:

  • Most exposed shower mixers are manual, meaning you control the temperature by adjusting the levers yourself.
  • However, some models may offer a thermostatic option. These feature a thermostatic cartridge within the valve that automatically mixes hot and cold water to maintain a pre-set temperature, offering more precise control.
concealed shower mixer fitting

Benefits of Exposed Shower Mixers:

  1. Simple and Affordable: Exposed shower mixers are generally easier and less expensive to install compared to concealed valves. Their straightforward design requires less labour and eliminates the need for complex in-wall plumbing modifications.
  2. Easy Maintenance and Repairs: Since the valve body is readily accessible on the wall, repairs or replacements become a breeze. This can save you time and money in the long run compared to concealed valves, which might require opening up the wall for access.
  3. Traditional Elegance: Exposed shower mixers offer a timeless aesthetic that complements various bathroom styles with an extensive range. Their classic design adds a touch of charm and functionality, particularly in traditional or vintage-inspired bathrooms.
  4. Wide Variety of Styles: Exposed shower mixers come in a wide range of finishes and designs, allowing you to find the perfect match for your bathroom décor. From chrome and nickel to brushed brass and matte black, you can personalize your shower with the ideal aesthetic touch.

Things to Consider with Exposed Shower Mixers:

  • Space Usage: Exposed shower mixers take up wall space and might feel visually intrusive in very small bathrooms. Consider the available space in your shower area before making your decision.
  • Temperature Control: While some exposed shower mixers offer thermostatic options for precise temperature control, some may be simpler models with manual mixing. If consistent temperature is a priority, ensure you choose a thermostatic exposed mixer.
  • Durability: Opt for high-quality and well-established brands like Bristan, Aqualisa, Triton, or Mira to ensure durability and reliable performance over time.


MML Plumbing can recommend the perfect shower mixer brand and model for your specific needs.

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Time for a Change? Signs Your Shower Mixer Needs Replacing

Is your once-reliable shower mixer causing frustration? Here are some telltale signs it might be time for a replacement:

  • Temperature Fluctuations: Inconsistent or uncontrollable water temperature is a major red flag. A faulty exposed shower valve might struggle to maintain the desired temperature.
  • Dripping or Leaking: Persistent drips or leaks around the mixer valve indicate worn-out parts or damaged seals. Ignoring leaks can lead to water damage and higher water bills.
  • Stiff or Loose Levers: Difficulty adjusting the water temperature due to stiff or loose levers can be a sign of internal wear and tear in the mixer valve.
  • Reduced Water Pressure: A noticeable drop in water pressure could be caused by a faulty mixer valve restricting water flow.
  • Visible Damage: Cracks, corrosion, or visible damage on the mixer valve itself are strong indicators that it needs to be replaced for both functionality and aesthetics.

Exposed Shower Valve Installation

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Exposed shower valves are easy to install, making them a great choice for any bathroom. The process is straightforward for a professional. Exposed shower valves are designed to last, making them the ideal choice for family bathrooms.

While the inner workings of an exposed front shower mixer valve are relatively simple, installation requires a qualified plumber for several reasons:

Plumbing Expertise: Connecting or replacing the exposed shower mixer to your existing hot and cold water supply lines requires expertise in working with different connection types like compression, BSP (British Standard Pipe), or PEX. A plumber will ensure a secure and leak-free pipework connection.

Regulation Compliance: Building regulations in the UK ensure safe and efficient plumbing systems. A qualified plumber will guarantee your exposed shower mixer installs adhere to all relevant regulations for peace of mind.

Avoiding Costly Mistakes: Improper installs can lead to leaks, water damage, and the need for costly repairs. A plumber’s experience helps avoid these potential issues, saving you money in the long run.

Warranty Considerations: Some manufacturer warranties might become void if it wasn’t performed by a qualified professional. ( fittings)


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Choosing the Right Exposed Shower Mixer

Consider the style of your bathroom, from traditional to modern, to choose the right exposed valves and shower mixer. Exposed shower valves are suitable for bathrooms, where space is limited. They can add a touch of elegance to your bathroom, making them a great choice for those who want a minimalist aesthetic or a classic style.

Exposed Shower Mixer Brands in London

Looking to add a touch of timeless elegance to your shower with an exposed mixer valve? The market offers a variety of reputable brands known for their quality and design:

  • Bristan: Renowned for affordability and reliability, Bristan offers a wide range of mixers with stylish finishes to complement your bathroom décor.
  • Aqualisa: Specializing in showering solutions, Aqualisa might offer innovative features in some of their mixers, enhancing functionality and user experience.
  • Triton: A popular budget-friendly UK brand, Triton provides easy-to-install mixers, making them a good option for cost-conscious homeowners.
  • Mira: A leading brand in showers, Mira offers a variety of mixers with user-friendly controls and reliable performance.

MML Plumbing: Your Experts in Exposed Shower Mixers

Whether you’re renovating your existing bathroom or building a new one, MML Plumbing is here to guide you through every step of the process. Our experienced plumbers can help you choose the perfect exposed shower mixer for your project, ensuring compatibility with your existing plumbing and regulations.

Let us help you to find the right shower mixer for your system

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Benefits of Choosing MML Plumbing for Exposed Shower Mixers:

Expert Advice: We offer professional advice on selecting the right exposed shower mixer based on your budget, style preferences, and functionality needs.

Seamless Installation: Our qualified plumbers ensure a smooth and efficient installation of your exposed shower mixer, minimizing disruption to your bathroom.

Guaranteed Quality: We work with reputable brands known for their quality and durability, giving you peace of mind for years to come.

After-Sales Support: We’re here to answer any questions you might have and assist you with any future maintenance needs for your exposed shower mixer.

Ready to create your dream shower with a touch of classic charm? Contact MML Plumbing today!

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Concealed: Sleek, hidden valve, ideal for small spaces. More complex installation, and repairs might require opening walls.

Exposed: Simple look, easy access for cleaning and repairs. Smaller, but less precise control (possible).

Electric showers: Heats water with electricity, compact, no hot water cylinder needed. Requires electrician, less efficient.

Mixer: Uses existing hot & cold water, wider style options, more efficient. Requires hot water cylinder/combi boiler.

Not recommended: Safety hazard (scalding), unattractive, might not suit or meet regulations.