Understanding a Vertical Spa Shower System

Creating a Luxury Shower on a Budget


This may be the height of luxury, but there’s no reason why you can’t have at least part of it. It’s easy to do it yourself and you will save a fair amount of money. First of all, if you look at the picture above, you will notice that it’s two complete shower systems, there is one on the right and one on the left.

The one on the right has a mixing valve, the main temperature on/off valve along with two volume controls/diverter valves, for controlling both the handheld and the body jets separately.

The one on the left is set up to control the ceiling rain-shower head, the body jets and the wall shower head. It has three volume controls/diverter valves plus the main on/off temperature control mixing valve.

This may sound a bit complicated, but it’s really not, the main control valve is just like any shower you would already have in your home, it’s used to turn the water on and off as well as adjust the water temperature to your comfort level.


Adding Flexibility With Volume Controls


The volume control valves are the part that most people have difficulty understanding. First of all, why do you need them and secondly, why can’t I simply install a two or three way diverter valve instead?

You can, but if you want to system to work properly and to give you all the flexibility you could ever want, you really need to use a volume control valve for each separate operation. Let’s say that you are installing, body jets, a hand held shower and a rain head, then you should have three separate volume control valves as well.

Right now you are probably thinking that a single diverter valve would do exactly the same thing and cost less, you are absolutely right; however, with a diverter valve you can’t control the pressure or flow to any of the outlets. You can only select to have it on or off, you may also be able to operate more than one device at the same time depending on the diverter type you purchase.

Here is where most people get into trouble, too many heads or outlets on at the same time and your water pressure to each will drop, sometimes drastically depending on your home’s water pressure. You could install a water pressure booster pump on your water system, but that will cost even more than doing it right in the first place.


 Volume control valves allow you full control over each outlet individually



By using volume control valves you can control each outlet individually, you can shoot some of them off, or adjust the pressure, and flow to each outlet separately. For instance, if you find your water pressure dropping, you can simply shut off some of the outlets or turn their volume down, you could turn down the rain shower head and increase the body jet pressure or you could shut off the body jets and turn the hand held shower on. This gives you complete flexibility over the entire operation. You don’t want to be saying to yourself “I wish I would have done that” after your luxury shower has been totally completed.

Now that you have a better understanding of how a luxury shower spa system works you should consider how you can install the plumbing for this type of system. Even if you are planning to hire a professional to do this job, it wouldn’t hurt to at least have some knowledge of how the job should be done. That way you will be able to tell whether or not the job is at least being done right.


A Simple Shower Spa With Volume Control


Simple Spa Moen
As you can see this is a very simple shower spa installation with two volume control valves that control the function of each component separately.


Simple Shower Spa, with Three Function Transfer Valve


Moen Simple Spa Syst with single diveter valve

In this example, we show one transfer valve that operates all components, however you do not have the flexibility of adjusting the volume or pressure that you find with a separate volume control option [Fig. ?] Above.


Vertical Spa With Four Body Jets and Diverter Valve


Moen Vertical Spa

This is just about as sophisticated as you can get with a three function diverter valve. In this illustration the tub spout has a built in diverter that diverts the water from the tub spout to the three way diverter valve which is a separate unit located above the mixing valve. This diverter valve can be used to select the shower head or the four body jets separately or it can be used to turn on both the shower head and the body jets on at the same time. A single diverter valve pretty well limits to this type of operation. However the use of volume control valves in lieu of a diverter valve can provide almost limitless possibilities.

Note: Most rough-in valves require a matching trim kit. The rough-in is the part that goes on the wall and you can’t see, the trim kit is the part that goes on the outside of the wall and you can see. Trim kits generally come in assorted finishes, like chrome, brush nickel, oil rubbed bronze and so on. Be sure to order both the rough-in and the trim kit for a complete unit.

Vertical Spa With Four Body Jets and Volume Control Valves


Spa with dbl loop and 3 VC valves

Here we see an example of a more elaborate system using three volume control valves in place of a three function diverter. This system provides the user with unlimited possibilities, for example the water pressure can be individually adjusted to any or all of the spray heads at the same time. The water can also be turned on or off to any or all of the spray heads, if desired.


Please Note:

Body sprays must always be installed in a pressure balancing loop in order to provide equal amounts of water to each spray head.


See What Goes In The Wall

Ever wonder why having a shower installed cost so much or what goes behind the wall? Here’s a look a few examples of the plumbing involved in a regular shower and a shower spa installation.


Simple shower install
Typical Single Head Shower Installation

This installation does not have a tub spout installed, it’s as simple as it gets except for the hot and cold inlet which are reversed, quite possibly because there may be another washroom or sink on the other side of the wall.


Vertical Spa With Four Body Jets and Built in Diverter Valve Rough-In

In this example, you can see two separate pressure balance loops, one of the top two body jets and the second loop is for the two bottom jets. Also visible are the two built in “water hammer arresters” that have been put in just behind the pressure balance loops, they run vertically and have soldered on caps. This is done in order to prevent a water hammer noise in your shower pipes.


Vertical Spa With Four Body Jets And Three, Volume Control Valves

This vertical spa has four body jets, three volume control valves, a 3/4″ (19.050 mm) main pressure balance temperature control valve and hand held shower outlet. The center volume control valve, controls the pressure to the fixed shower head. The valve on the right controls the hand held shower and the valve on the left controls the pressure to the four body jets that have been looped in a single loop.

Notice the use of 3/4″ (19.050 mm) pex feed line, to the volume control valves, 3/4″ (19.050 mm) and 1/2″ (12.700 mm) copper is used to complete the system in order to add some rigidity and to ensure an adequate amount of water for the operation of all the valves. The delivery side of the volume control valves is plumbed using 1/2″ (12.700 mm) copper in order to maintain adequate water pressure.

For more information about Pex click, Pex Information.


A Few Examples Of A Completed System

Moen Vertical Spa
Moen TS276 Vertical Spa System

This package comes as a complete unit, Moen Part # TS276, it includes, one pressure balanced valve with trim and shower head, one hand held shower complete with sliding rod, hose and wall elbow, four body jets with trim and three volume control valves with trim plus all mounting hardware. Just order part # TS276.

The approximate value at the time of this article $ 690.00 US (chrome)


Moen Custom Vertical Spa System

The package consists of:

  1. Moen TS33001 Shower Trim with Single Function Rain Shower Head and ExactTemp Thermostatic Valve
  2. Moen S11705, 1 1/8″ Single Function Handheld shower with 69″ Hose and Wall Bracket
  3. Three (3) Moen TS1322 Single Function Body Sprays
  4. Three (3) Moen S1300 Body Spray Rough In Valve

You must order all the above parts separately in order to make up this shower/spa unit.

The approximate (2013) value at the time of this article $ 950.00 US (chrome)


Package from the Moen Waterhill Collection consists of:

  1. One Moen TS3112 Double Handle Exact Temp Thermostatic Shower Trim and Rainshower Head with Shower Arm
  2. One Moen S3371, 3/4″ Thermostatic Rough In Shower Valve
  3. Three (3) Moen S3600, 3/4″ Volume Control Valve
  4. Three (3) Moen TS514BN, Single Handle Volume Control Trim
  5. Four (4) Moen A501 Adjustable Body Spray
  6. One Moen 3861, 2″ Single Function Hand Held Shower with 69″ Hose and Wall Bracket (you must select the right color)
  7. One Moen A725, 1/2″ Connection Wall Elbow

You must order all the above parts separately in order to make up this shower/spa unit.

The approximate (2013) value at the time of this article $ 2300.00 US.


Package from the Moen Weymouth Collection consists of:

  1. Moen TS32112 Exacttemp R Shower – Shower Valve Trim – Shower Head – Shower Arm, Chrome
  2. One (1) Moen S3371 Pressure Balanced Valve
  3. Three (3) Moen TS52104, Volume Control Trim
  4. Three (3) Moen S3600 Volume Control Valve
  5. One (1) Moen S12107 EP Handheld Shower, Slide Bar – Shower Head – Hose
  6. One (1) A725 Wall Elbow

You must order all the above parts separately in order to make up this shower/spa unit.

Moen Weymouth, Approximate (2013) value at the time of this article $ 1450.00 US (Chrome)

7 thoughts on “Vertical Spa Systems”

    1. Hi John, eight body jets is a lot. There is no set rule for installing body jets. I would place the first row at approximately shoulder height and the bottom row just above knee height. Then I would evenly space the remaining two (on each side) between the top and bottom jets. If more than one person will be using this shower, you should also keep in mind the height of the other users, you don’t want the jets hitting someone in the face.

  1. Which manufacturer provides the best quality for thermo and volume control valves?

    I was thinking that it is grohe or hansgroge.

    However, they are limited on trim choices

    1. In my opinion, both these companies offer top notch products. Handsgrohe is the originator of the Grohe line, while Grohe was started the Hans Grohe’s son. I know that the choices of trim are limited, but I think this is outweighed by the prestige of owning either of these products. German companies tend to concentrate on quality rather than aesthetics, so you will have to decide if you want quality or good looks. Some members of the Grohe family are still involved in the companies, they own approximately 32% of the share, but the majority shareholder now is Masco Industries. Hope this helps you with your decision.

  2. Can the moen ts276 be installed using 1/2″ copper without losing to much pressure? I’m doing a remodel and it was built with 1/2 to the bathrooms.

    1. I’m dealing with exactly the same thing. My main water supply to the house is 3/4″, but it is reduced down to 1/2″ for the majority of plumbing. Still 3/4 to hot water tank, but 1/2″ after.

      I am apprehensive on doing the full spa design with the 1/2″ source.

      1. Hi Richard,

        Thank you for your comment on Trusted E Blogs. To answer your question, your plumbing appears to be what is normally done in most homes. However, if there is any possible way, you could run a separate 3/4″ line for both the hot and the cold water, to your spa system and then use 3/4″ spa components. I find that using Pex piping is sometimes easier for this type of job, but you will want to use copper once you start plumbing the system. Using 3/4″ water supply lines you should expect to get 16GPM of flow at 40 to 60 PSI. You will get slightly less if you use 1/2″ piping and components or if you use a combination of 1/2″ supply lines and 3/4″ spa components but it should still be fairly respectable.


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