Nothing in the shower is as annoying as expecting some warm water and being hit with an icy stream from your showerhead.
Many people who have their hot and cold water reversed have decided to live with it. But it does not need to be this way!
If your shower’s hot and cold water are reversed, this could be caused by a shower cartridge that is out of alignment. Or perhaps your plumber did some sloppy work and mismatched the cold and hot water control knobs.
You do not need to settle with having to remember your hot water is your cold and vice versa along with having to explain this to any guests in your home constantly.
You can get rid of this problem once and for all.
Why is My Shower Hot and Cold Water Switched
Your Hot and Cold Controls Were Switched
This issue happens with double knob temperature control setups.
Simply put, the control knob that states hot was placed on the cold side, and the cold knob was placed on the hot side.
This problem happened when a plumber or DIYer repaired or installed a shower system and mistook or lost track of which side was hot or cold.
This is a fairly straightforward issue to resolve.
Your Shower Cartridge Is Malfunctioning
Shower cartridges are responsible for mixing hot and cold water before it comes out of your showerhead. Shower cartridge issues affect single knob control setups.
Your shower cartridge could have been installed incorrectly or needs to be replaced. If you notice a hot and cold water reversal just after installing a new shower cartridge, then something likely went wrong with that cartridge.
Determining if You Have a Hot Water Issue
Sometimes people confuse hot water issues with having their water temperatures switched. However, some water heating issues can have your water quickly changing temperatures.
When this temperature change occurs, you may think your hot and cold water is reversed when actually your hot water heater or something else is to blame.
To be sure your water temperature is switched, run your hot water, which should come out cold, and remain cold. If that cold water gets hot, then your issue may lie with your water heater or elsewhere in your water system.
How to Fix Your Hot and Cold Water Reversed in the Shower
There are many shower cartridges and faucet manufacturers.
For example, you may have a Delta, Moen, Price, Pfister, Symmons, Mixet, or American Standard product.
The solutions below will generally work for most products, but you should always contact your manufacturer and see if you need any special tools or have to follow specific procedures.
Tools You Will Need
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Flathead Screwdriver
- Allen Wrench
- Plumbers or Adjustable Wrench
- Cloth or Rag
Single-Knob Temperature Control
1. Turn Your Water Supply Off
Before repairing your shower, you should always turn your water supply off.
Your shower might have its own water shut off, which would be great. Otherwise, you need to turn off the water supply to your entire home.
Some water systems can be shut off by hand through a valve, while others require a wrench.
2. Unscrew The Temperature Control Knob
There will be a single screw on the face of your control knob.
Sometimes, a small plastic tab will cover the screw that can be removed by hand or with a flathead screwdriver.
The screw holding your control knob in place is often a Phillips screw but in some cases can be a hex screw requiring an Allen wrench.
3. Remove the Handle
With the screw removed, you can pull off the handle.
Years of mineral buildup can make the handle challenging to remove, so you may have trouble pulling it off by hand. Instead, you can gently pry the handle away with a flathead screwdriver.
Some units have a second handle underneath this first one that you need to unscrew and remove to get access to the shower cartridge.
4. Inspect and Remove Your Shower Cartridge
Begin by taking a look at your shower cartridge and checking if it’s damaged or out of alignment.
Most shower cartridges have a retaining clip that can be removed by hand or with pliers. Be careful and do not damage or bend the retaining clip.
With the retaining clip removed, you should be able to pull the cartridge out by hand or with pliers. If that does not work, you may need a special cartridge pulling tool which the manufacturer can provide.
5. Re-Install or Replace Your Shower Cartridge
If your shower cartridge was out of alignment (it should have been installed at 180 degrees in most cases), reinstall your shower cartridge with the proper alignment.
If your water reversal issue was not resolved, install a brand new shower cartridge.
Double-Knob Temperature Control
1. Turn Your Water Supply Off
First and foremost, before beginning this repair turn off your water supply.
You can accomplish this through your main shut-off valve. But if your shower has its own shut-off valve, the other people living in your home will thank you.
2. Inspect Your Control Knobs
Take a close look at your two control knobs. Sometimes the knob’s hot and cold designation will be labeled on plastic tabs with a capital H and C.
If that is the case, you can remove these plastic tabs by hand or with a screwdriver and switch them. Problem solved.
But if your knobs lack these tabs and the cold and hot markings are etched into the knobs, you will have to remove them.
3. Remove Your Control Knobs
Search underneath and at the back of your control knobs cover plate for retaining screws. These screws may require a screwdriver or Allen wrench to remove.
Take care when removing these small screws not to drop them down the drain. You can put a cloth or rag over your drain cover to prevent this from happening.
You can then remove the cover plate and control knobs.
4. Switch Your Control Knobs
Finally, put everything back together and make sure that you switch the control knobs to the opposite side.
Then, with everything reattached, turn back on your water and test your water temperature to make sure the issue is gone.