dribbling shower

Old 11-24-99, 02:25 PM
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When I run water from my bathtub faucet, the pressure is fine. However, the shower barely dribbles when I switch to it. I've disconnected the showerhead, but the same dribble dribbles from the tube. This tube in turn, feeds into the wall, therefore I do not know how to clear it. Someone once mentioned something of calcium deposits...but, I am not sure how best to resolve this.

This seems a bit to simple to hire the services of a plumber. If anyone can give any advise it'd be much appreciated. Thanks.
Old 11-24-99, 02:32 PM
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A restriction due to a calcium deposit would be massive. It's not impossible, but it is highly unlikely.

If that is your suspicion: turn the house valve and the valve to the hot water heater off, drain some water at a spigot, then turn the shower arm tube upward, then using a small funnel pour "CLR" or vinegar into the tube. Know that CLR is not kind to rubber. Washers and gaskets may need replacement afterward. Vinegar takes longer. Don't ask: "How long"! The answer is "longer".

The following list may be of some help.
Do: read everything, before doing anything.

Other possibilities:
1. Two or Three valve setup (hot cold diverter):
Three valve: Clogged, worn, or defective diverter value.
A> Pull & push on diverter stem (fully open & fully closed). Does it move? How much if any? Sounds like: jingle, jingle thump thump, none? Noise bad, bwana!
B> Have you replaced the washer recently? If so, are the stem threads within the valve body(?) or was the stem turned so they project beyond the value body?

Clogged Solution: clean & replace washer & gasket(s).
Worn Solution: choose: replace stem, replace unit.
Defective Solution: replacement.
In all cases check the valve seat. Grind if necessary.
No A> B> help here, because too many types exist.

Single lever type:
Clogged ports, valve defective.
Clogged Solution: clean & replace (check rubber & gaskets). Lube with assembly lube before replacement.
Defective Solution: replacement.

Diverter on spout:
Diverter worn or defective.
Solution: replacement.

2. A restriction in the shower arm tube. Unlikely, but possible. Remove the shower arm tube, flush with water.

3. A restriction in the shower tube (rust accumulation in galvanized pipe) or a foreign object (small rock, or sediment) from hot or cold water supplies.
Remove shower arm, then using a small flexible wire (multi-strand, not a coat hanger or stiff wire) or a small drain snake: insert it at the shower tube outlet. Does it go down the pipe easily? No?: if the pipe is galvanized, rust accumulation is causing the restriction. Does it stop abruptly before bottoming on the valve body? Yes?: possibly a foreign obstruction, otherwise rust (galv).

Rust Solution: replacement.
Temporary solution: reaming or blowing the line. Blowing the line is explained below. Reaming is not recommended, thus not explained. Foreign obstruction solution: blowing the line.

4. A restriction in the valve body (at the diverter, between hot and diverter and/or cold and diverter, for three value setups), or within the value channels for single lever types.

Solution: blowing the line.

To blow a line you will need to assemble a simple device, obtain an air compressor capable of 15 psi air blasts, and some escutcheon tubing, plus have ordinary hand tools, pipe wrenches, and hex wrenches for valve removal of the two or three valve type.

The device:
1. 1/2" pipe of sufficient length to clear the wall and tile, that is threaded on both ends.
2. 1/2" to 1/4" reducing coupling.
3. 1/4 (bicycle type) air valve threaded to MIP (Male Iron Pipe). This is a hardware store item.

Using three turns of "PVC pipe tape" on male threads: fit the air valve into the reducing coupling, then the coupling on to one end of the pipe. The other end of the pipe will be inserted into the drop ear coupling (or elbow) at the shower tube, after the shower arm has been removed.

Next: remove the hot, cold , and diverter values or single lever valve assembly. If not a single lever type: remove the stems from the valve bodies. Afterward, replace the packing nut, insert escutcheon tubing and replace the valves.

For single lever types: know that there is some risk of scoring the channels and valve body, but, the alternative is replacement. For two or three valve types there is little chance of damage.

Insert the "device" into the shower tube, then apply short blasts of air. If that does not work: using a funnel and tubing pour some water into the shower tube and redo.

Hoh, Hoh, Hoh, santa is is on his way.


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