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It is good to know that I don't have to worry about small, isolated water spills behind a wall. But, I would like to avoid this happening whenever I want to work on the shower stem.

With a minimal opening (a 6cm hole, maybe 1-2cm gap around the stem), how do I prevent the remaining water in the shower pipe(s) from spilling behind the wall when I remove the stem?

Small shower stem hole

  • Have a wet vacuum cleaner at the ready to suction the escaping drizzle of water when the stem is removed – Kris Nov 8 '18 at 16:44
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    Is there a faucet that is lower anywhere in the plumbing? If so, you could shut off the water to the whole house and open that faucet. Alternatively, maybe take off the shower head and use a slim tube in that pipe to suck the water out to below where the water level should be (mouth or wet vac). – UnhandledExcepSean Nov 8 '18 at 21:24
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Take a 3x5 index card or similar size flexible but not to thin piece of paper and bend it into a curve so that it will slide into the opening under the stem, angle it slightly so water will run out towards you.

You may have to trim the length and width depending of the depth of the wall and the opening. It only needs to curve up slightly, you are creating kind of a half funnel, for lack of a better term. It sits under the stem so when you take stem out the water falls onto the funnel it runs out and not into the wall.

If a few drops get past it it is no big deal, as long as you divert the majority of the water.

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