Plumber Recommendation Question


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Old 01-19-06, 10:59 AM
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Plumber Recommendation Question

In my main bath, I have a tub with a shower head and what is probably the original fixtures from 1948, separate hot and cold tap, tub faucet, showerhead and diverter. Everything was working great, shower has always had good pressure. The pipes are all still galvanized. All the plumbing for the house is located under a finished basement ceiling that was boxed in with plywood, then drywalled and painted. In other words, try not to get to the plumbing that way. There is a hole in a closet behind the tub but it's only a foot wide by about two feet high.

A few weeks ago, the hot water tap started leaking, wouldn't turn off. My husband tried but couldn't get the taps off so we called a plumber, one of the bigger companies in the area that I have used before and that I trust. The plumber took apart the hot water faucet and showed me where corrosion and age had ruined the cartridge (? not quite sure of my terms). He spent a long time in the truck before coming back with a new cartridge, acting as if this was really hard to come by since it was so old. He said that even though he could replace that part, the washer was being worn away by something else in the back and would eventually leak again.

Then he recommended replacing the whole piping and fixtures, involving tile work (the whole wall is tiled) and knocking out more holes in the closet. He said that he had to replace the double faucet with a single. Then he told me NOT to use the tap at all, wait until it was all replaced.

The company sent an estimater out and the estimate is way way over our budget and we can't afford to do this until next year. I'm sure it's a fair estimate, we just don't have the money right now.

MY QUESTIONS -

1. I cannot get my mind wrapped around the idea that we should not use the tap. He replaced the offending piece and the first one last for 58 years, why couldn't we use this for a few more months or even a year? He spooked me now though so I haven't touched it since he told us not to.

2. Ideally, I would love to replace all the fixtures and I would love to renovate the entire bathroom BUT why can't we just fix the hot water tap? Is that possible so we can at least wait until we have enough money to do it right? I just think plumbing is one thing a do-it-yourselfer has to know a lot about, I don't want to mess with trying to replace everything, so would like to know what people think about this. Why the plumber said replaced everything (which yes, is ideal) but can't we just fix the one tap? I guess a sub-question is, why do we have to replace the 2 taps with one? I don't understand why a code would require that?

Thanks!
 
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Old 01-19-06, 01:02 PM
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first off, i'm a homeowner not a plumber, secondly, i do 99 % of the plumbing repairs in my house and a few other. lastly, i know when i get to that others 1 % and need a pro. so... as far as the repair itself goes, it sounds like he was able to replace a stem and washer but not a seat. "cartridges" were not around in 1948. he's recomending replacement because he is unable to repair the seat which is 1/2 of the system that shuts off flow. he likely doesn't want you to use it because a bad seat could wear the new washer and start leaking again. as far as "fixing one tap", it's either a pair of valves that he'll never match, or a combination fixture that can't be repaired that way. as far as the one control code, and i'm guessing here, "code" is requiring a scald proof fixture that uses thermal sensing to prevent high temp output. it sounds to me like you have a decent plumber looking out for you. have you considered removing the tile and wall section yourself , paying only for the plumbing work, and finishing the job to save some cash ? good luck
 
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Old 01-19-06, 01:07 PM
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Since you have two handles, I have to assume that the stem is what he pulled out. It has a washer on the end that seals against the seat in the back of the faucet. The seat in yours may not be a replaceable type and has "score" marks in it from the washer being bad. The washer is held on by a screw and the bad washer may have allowed the screw to scrape against the seat. Good news is that you can buy a reseating tool for under $10. It resurfaces the seat.
Not sure why the plumber said he had to replace with a single tap. Never heard of a code that contained that. They still make two handle faucets. Also not sure why he told you not to use the tap until it was all replaced. I thought you said he got a new one off the truck and replaced the old. It should work with no problem. Look at your bill and see if the part is listed. I would call the company and ask why he fixed something that can now not be used.
It may not be the companies fault. Just the person who did the work. Good luck and if you get an odd answer, let us know as I would be really interested to hear it.
 
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Old 01-19-06, 05:21 PM
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Thanks for the answers. This might help, from the repair bill:

"Installed new Briggs shower stem hot side. Cannot remove barrel due ot major corrosion. Faucet needs replaced ASAP. Leak is stopped for now but will not last." and then "No warranty on repair, needs new faucet."

I was charged $28.97 for the stem.

I think I could handle replacing tile but not sure how to install the board that goes under it, is that difficult to learn?
 
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Old 01-19-06, 05:37 PM
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Before you contemplate tearing out the tile, is there a closet or open area on the other side of the wall that you could gain access through? Plumbing can be repaired/replaced from both sides of a wall. I am still not buying the part about the single handle faucet. Look at Home centers and you will see the double handled faucets for sale. Something to think about.
 
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Old 01-20-06, 01:20 AM
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Was $29 your total bill?

Perhaps the old barrel could be coaxed out with light application of a torch or some penetrating oil (not both together, though).
If the barrel budges at all, it will come out. Otherwise put the valve back together until you are ready to replace the whole faucet.

If the cold water is also corrosive, put a new barrel on each side.
All the parts together shouldn't cost more than $29.

If you continue to use the tub, you risk that it will start leaking again.
But it won't explode or anything like that.
 
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Old 01-20-06, 12:34 PM
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majakdragon: yes, there is an open space but I think the hot water tap is to the right of the openin, so you'd be working in a tight space, around the wall. The reason for going through the tile in front was probably to make it easier.

bolide: $28 was for the PART only. The bill was $172.

I'll keep looking into all this. I looked up in my home repair book and there are some pretty good explanations on how to replace double faucets in a tub. I think I'll also try the hardware and plumbing stores and find out what they think.

Thanks again.
 
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Old 01-20-06, 12:51 PM
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Just as a reference, the link at the bottom of this post shows a double handle faucet. Go to the bottom of the page (last faucet shown) and you will see what has to be replaced.

http://doityourself.com/shop/deltatubshowerdouble.htm
 

Last edited by majakdragon; 01-20-06 at 12:53 PM. Reason: added link
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Old 01-20-06, 03:00 PM
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The bill was $172.
Outrageous!

You could have squashed a wad of bubble gum in there if you aren't going to use it anyway.


I would leave the tile alone and work from behind for the replacement.

But first I would work harder to remove the old barrels. Do you have a lot of iron in the water? Or what type of corrosion is present?
 
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Old 01-20-06, 04:39 PM
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..I don't understand why a code would require that?...

There is actually a code requirement for shower valves to be pressure balanced or thermostatically controlled (basically anti-scald). This is an IPC code and included in the whole International Code family. UPC probably has similar requirement.

While you can still buy two handle valves for a tub or shower, a plumbing company would shy away from this due to liabilty issues from someone being burned or scalded.

As Majak stated earlier, a little seat grinding tool would help resurface the seat and let the rubber washer last a while longer.

Good luck with your project...
 
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Old 01-22-06, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by bolide
Outrageous!

You could have squashed a wad of bubble gum in there if you aren't going to use it anyway.


I would leave the tile alone and work from behind for the replacement.

But first I would work harder to remove the old barrels. Do you have a lot of iron in the water? Or what type of corrosion is present?
Yep, hindsight is 20/20 isn't it? I had to pay a service call fee, then I knew it would be something like 20/quarter hour but when he found the part, he didn't say that wouldn't allow us to use it, I let him do it, then he finished and said don't turn it on. To be honest, I didn't even notice the part charge until you asked. I'm just so clueless when it comes to plumbing, though I learn things everytime I have a problem.
 
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Old 01-29-06, 12:05 PM
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Reading this thread, I can't help thinking that perhaps you need a different plumber, or at least a second opinion. The water is not aggresive in the area where I work, and I've never seen a barrel so corroded that I could't get it out. Usually I hunt a little for parts & repair the faucet. Perhaps your water is aggresive and has ruined the faucet, but if you've been in the house for any length of time you'd be aware of having bad water.
 
 

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