One of the greatest pleasures of recreational-vehicle, or RV, ownership is using the vehicle as an entirely self-contained unit, parking or camping away from any facilities. Of the many functions built in to the RV to facilitate remote camping, the ability to shower in comfort is one of the greatest benefits. The shower stalls in RVs are almost universally manufactured from fibreglass. They may be cast in a single piece, have a base -- called the pan -- and a sidewall section, or have sidewalls which are split into two or more sections. A damaged, leaky or simply old-fashioned and under-provisioned shower stall can detract from the remote camping experience. However, replacing one with a new unit is a manageable project.
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Things you need
- Carpentry toolkit
- Plumbing toolkit
- Replacement shower stall
- Replacement shower fittings
- Trim and/or caulk (optional)
Turn off the water supply to your system. Disconnect the city water hose, and remove the breaker to the on-demand 12-volt water pump to ensure it cannot function.
Consult the manufacturer literature delivered with your RV to find the location of the shower access panel. Typically, the shower access panel will be a round plate in the pre-existing shower stall, or a square plate on the outside of one of the enclosure walls surrounding the pre-existing shower stall. Remove the access panel.
Disconnect the pre-existing shower feed pipes, the vacuum breaker and the hot and cold pipes from the faucet assembly.
Remove the pre-existing shower stall, being careful not to damage the plumbing and waste fixtures and the enclosure walls. The shower stall may be held in place by trim around the front, or by brackets securing it to the walls that can be accessed through a panel beneath the faucet or screwed to one of the walls. There may be a double-sided adhesive pad between the underside of the shower pan, and there may be hidden fasteners behind a mirror or shelving. If a retrofitted shower curtain rod or non-standard shelving is in place, remove these items first.
Use your tape measure to record the exact dimensions of the enclosure walls up-and-down, side-to-side and front-to-back. Purchase a replacement from an RV-supply store or a home-improvement warehouse. Typically, there will be little difference in weight between a household shower stall and one manufactured for RV installation; the dimensions are the overriding imperative.
Purchase a replacement unit designed to install without the use of caulk or multiple internal trims. Shower stalls with integral, wipe-clean shelving are an asset. Choose a colour that will blend in with the rest of your RV's decor, especially furnishings and decoration in the same immediate area as the shower stall.
Install the new shower stall exactly as directed by the manufacturer, rather than as a reversal of the sequence in which you removed the old unit. The instructions will dictate an installation sequence that makes the new shower stall or its component pieces easiest to manoeuvre. The instructions will also make it difficult to omit any vital plumbing connections or safety measures. Pay particular attention to the systems that deliver water and remove it to waste.
Trim or caulk the edges of the fibreglass panels if necessary. Fit a shower curtain or concertina door according to the manufacturer's literature. Ensure there is some form of securing strap or locking feature so the curtain or door cannot move freely when the RV is moving. Allow all sealants to dry thoroughly before using the new shower stall.
Tips and warnings
- Attach elasticated cords or a metal coat hangers to the plumbing and waste pipes while they are disconnected from the faucet assembly. This will prevent them from dropping onto the floor or the enclosure service shroud.
- Every seal and rubber washer provided with the new shower stall must be used in its installation, and you can increase the effectiveness of watertight seals by using Teflon tape at threaded joints.
- Before closing the access panel for the last time, turn on the water to the shower stall. Use a new, clean and dry paper towel to test around every joint. Even the slightest trace of escaping moisture must be dealt with before considering the project complete.
- Be sure to check the floor covering around the shower stall after the project is complete. If anything has been disturbed that may result in splashes or the moisture from steam entering the floor, it must be rectified before the new shower stall is used.
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