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How To Turn a Shower On: A Guide

Showers can range from simple to complex, making it difficult to know how to operate each one. In addition, we sometimes struggle to figure out how to turn a shower on, especially if we haven’t operated it before.

If you’re having difficulty turning on your shower, we’re here to help. So read on to learn more about the many different kinds of showers and how to operate them.

How To Turn a Shower On

Different Kinds of Showers

There are many different kinds of shower operating systems. Different knobs, levers, and more can make the task feel much more complex. Here are some of the ways that you can operate these showers!

Shower Knob

Showers most commonly feature a knob in the center. These are usually made of clear plastic and have labels to show the direction for adjusting the temperature.

Some of these have a resting spot in the center. You can turn it in one direction for cold and another for hot, with the center being off.

Others will instead start in one direction and change temperatures as you turn it the other way, typically clockwise. This is similar to a hose valve that you may find on the side of your house. Turning the knob clockwise turns the water on, and turning it counter-clockwise turns the water off!

You should turn slowly to get a feel for the water as you do so. This can stop you from accidentally scalding yourself if the water gets too hot. Some suggest a specific temperature is healthier for your skin, though the choice also comes down to personal preference.

Arguably the most intimidating knob-style shower is the three-knob shower. These will have three knobs, typically arranged horizontally. Most often, one will control the cold water, another the hot, and another the flow of water. The third will direct water toward your shower head or the spigot. Because of this, you’ll usually only find it in a bathtub-shower combination.

Shower Lever

A more simple variation of a shower’s water control system is the shower lever. These levers are typically at about chest height for the average person and may move in a variety of ways.

Most often, there’s a single lever that rests in the middle. As with the knob, turning it one way or the other will choose what kind of water. You can move it slightly up one side to nudge the temperature in that direction or make it as cold – or as hot – as possible!

Levers are rarely more complex than this. However, some showers have two levers with each controlling one of the water temperatures. While this feels more complex, it gives you more control over what temperature of water you’re showering in.

Temperature Locations

Speaking of temperatures, one thing to note on your shower knob is where the temperature markers are. These markers will help you locate which direction is hot and which is cold. We’ll go into further detail in our next section!

Temperature Locations

You should look at your shower to see where these temperature markers are located. Most often, they’ll be around the lever or knob. However, it’s not uncommon for a shower not to have any markers!

Unfortunately, if your shower has no markers, your only option is to turn the knob or lever and see what water comes out. Consider marking them yourself if it’s a shower you’ll use frequently! Otherwise, you need to memorize which direction is which temperature.

Temperature Markers

The temperature of your shower is a crucial thing to control. Some showers can get hot enough to be uncomfortable or even scald you! A cold shower can feel refreshing but also harsh, especially in the winter times. Here are the two temperature markers you can expect to find on your shower.


Nearly every shower will have a marker to show which direction is hot water. This temperature is almost always shown with the color red, often as a bar.

If your water valve is a lever, you may find a red bar on one side of it. The bar may grow in size the further it gets, indicating hotter temperatures the further you turn the lever.

Knob systems may have a red dot or color indicator on one side to let you know that this is the direction you’ll find hot water. You’ll need to turn the knob and see how hot it gets if there isn’t another indicator past this.

If there isn’t a temperature marker, hot water is most commonly to the right in a shower. The further right you turn a knob or lever, the hotter the water will get.

Knob-style showers sometimes lack a way to show hot water. This is because the knob may only turn one way. If this is the case, the water will almost certainly get hotter the more you turn the knob. Such a design prevents you from having scalding hot water come from the shower the moment you turn it on.

Hot showers are great for relaxing. The hot water helps your muscles to relax and lose tension, making them wonderful for ending a long, tiring day. They also can help to alleviate aches and soreness and encourage healthy sleep! 


Cold water isn’t comfortable, but it doesn’t have the risk of scalding or burning that hot water can have. In showers, cold temperatures are typically shown with the color blue.

With levers or color-coded valves, it’s often simple. Turn the valve or lever toward the blue bar to get cold water!

As before, you’ll often find a blue bar that grows in size the farther you turn. This is to indicate that the water is getting colder. On many knobs, you can select cold water by turning the knob counter-clockwise (to the left).

Notably, cold showers have a variety of health benefits. Hydrotherapy usually uses cold water in ways that help our body be more resistant to stress. They also help with several symptoms, such as increasing endorphins. Many even use cold showers to help treat depression!

Why Won’t My Shower Turn On?

If you’ve followed all these steps and your shower still won’t turn on, there may be something wrong. Here are some of the issues that could cause your shower to fail to turn on.

Broken Valve

One of the most common issues to cause your shower to fail to turn on is a broken component. This is often a valve that helps to direct and supply water to your shower.

Unfortunately, this is rarely an easy fix. You should consider having a professional plumber come out and see which, if any, parts are broken in your shower. The fix might be simple, or it could be a more difficult, complex operation. Either way, you’ll need a plumber’s help!

Lack of Water Supply

Another reason is that sometimes your shower isn’t getting any water. There are several reasons why this could occur.

For example, the water in your area may not be operating at the moment. This could happen as a result of a severe storm, local maintenance, or another such event. You can contact your local utility company to see if they’ve shut the water off in your area.

Lack of Water Supply

In the same respect, you may have had your water shut off as a failure to pay your water bill. This is a less likely situation and when this occurs, there may have been a public warning issued beforehand.

Either way, restoring your water supply is the first step to restoring your shower! However, not all reasons may tie to your water company or local utilities.

Pipes may have ruptured in a way that stops water from getting to your shower. You could also have issues with your home’s plumbing as a whole. Regardless, you should contact a professional plumber and have them come to diagnose the issue.

Broken Shower Knob

Finally, you could also have a broken shower knob or lever. Such a problem could occur as a result of damage or corrosion of components.

You may notice this is the case if you can freely spin the knob without resistance. If a lever is hanging loose, it could also signal such a breakage.

If you’re comfortable working with the components, you could take your shower knob or lever off. This will help you see if anything is broken inside. Otherwise, you should contact a professional to come and diagnose the problem for you.

Washing Up

Figuring out how to turn a shower on can feel complex at first with how many different types of showers there are! Consider spending a moment getting to understand how your shower works before trying to bathe. Above all else, stand outside of your shower until you’re certain you won’t scald yourself with hot water once you jump in!

For more information on home renovation and plumbing, be sure to browse our site! You can also contact us to learn more.

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