Leaking shower head - how to fix?

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  #1  
Old 04-28-01, 08:49 AM
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bunkie68
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We have a separate shower stall in our bathroom. It has Price Pfister fixtures, separate handles for hot and cold water, and water leaks from the shower head constantly. It started out as a little drip and now sounds approximately like a small river. The water coming from the shower head is warm, which leads me to believe the problem lies with the hot water tap. I'm worried about it - because of the moisture in the air, our bathroom is pretty sticky all the time, and I'm afraid that could be damaging other things somehow (besides our water bill). What could be the cause of this problem, and how can it be fixed? Is this something we can repair ourselves (we're pretty mechanically challenged, but can follow step-by-step directions pretty well as long as the problem isn't too complicated)? If it's something we can do ourselves, we'd like to tackle it this weekend - the dripping is making us nuts. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 
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Old 04-28-01, 08:57 AM
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Cool

Go to http://www.bhglive.com/homeimp/ for an illustrated guide on how to repair your faucet leak. Just follow the links in the Plumbing section.
Good Luck!
Mike
 
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Old 04-30-01, 07:36 AM
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Thanks, Mike! I haven't looked all the way through it yet, but the link you provided looks like it will be very helpful. We called Price Pfister on Saturday, and they're sending the parts we need for the repair (duh, wish I'd thought of that about three weeks ago!) - they should be here in 5-7 days.

Now I have another concern - the water that's running is hot. In our other bathroom, I can feel a warm spot under the tile where the pipe runs from the hot water heater to the bathroom. I'm concerned about the pipe - is there a possibility that having this water running for a few more days would damage the pipe? And I'm worried about the condensation in the shower stall - can that cause any damage if left for a few more days? When we're home, we open the windows and try to let it air out a little, and we're thinking about just shutting the water off to the house while we're gone during the day, to let things dry out a little and give that pipe a rest. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Any input is appreciated!

Lisa
 
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Old 04-30-01, 03:40 PM
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There should be shutoff valves in the wall below the shower handles. Hopefully, the builder has enough sense to provide you with access to the valves. You should look for these valves to shut off the hot water to this shower.

I am not concerned about the water flowing through the pipe, however, that much moisture for that long of a time is not good for the paint/wall paper in the bath with the shower.

If you can find no other way to stop the flow, yes, shutoff the water supply, but I would just shut off the supply to the water heater. If you do this, also turn off the water heater circuit breaker so you do not burn up the elements.
 
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Old 05-01-01, 06:55 AM
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Rick,

Thanks for the info! I was most worried about the pipe - I could just envision it leaking and then we'd have a real mess on our hands.

I can't see anywhere that there's access to shutoff valves for the shower - the shower wall is smooth, and there's no access that I can see behind it (unless it's under the sink in the second bathroom, I'll look there and see what I can find). Guess our builder didn't have that much sense. How do you shut off the water supply to the hot water heater? Is that something we could turn off during the day and turn back on at night fairly easily? And would that suffice when we're fixing the shower? I ask because I called our water company yesterday to ask about turning off the water supply to the house when we're working on the shower, and I was told that they discourage that because the main valve can freeze up or break. I thought, well, if I can't turn off the water somehow, that's going to make this little project mighty difficult! So if turning off the supply to the hot water heater would be enough, that would be great. Any advice is appreciated!
 
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Old 05-01-01, 07:13 AM
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Go to your hot water heater. If it is electric, it will look similar to this



There will be two pipes coming out of the top of the heater. One is the cold water inlet, the other is the hot water exit. If you cannot figure out which is which, run some hot water somewhere in the house, and feel them. The cold one is the inlet. Immediately upstream on the inlet line will be a shutoff valve, close this valve.

As mentioned earlier, be sure to turn off the circuit breaker for the heater so you do not burn up the heating elements.

You can shut the valve and turn the heater off during the day. Closing the cold water inlet valve will work for repairing your faucet, providing the valve does not leak through. Check this by opening any hot water valve after you have closed the cold supply valve. If all hot water stops dripping, you are ok.

Do you have a basement in your house, or know where your water meter is located?
 
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Old 05-01-01, 08:16 AM
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Rick,

Thanks! That diagram will be a big help - I'll check out our water heater when I get home this evening. I'll turn that valve off, and if it stops the pouring in the shower, then I'll know I've got the right thing. (What a relief that would be - hearing that water running at night is about to drive me bananas!)

We don't have a basement, and our water meter is in our front yard. Why?

Lisa
 
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Old 05-01-01, 10:25 AM
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Many houses, especially those with basements, have a shutoff valve in the main water supply, inside the house.

I was just looking for an easier way for you to turn off all of the water to the house. AND if you ever have to disassemble the cold water valve to work on it, you will have to know how to shut off the cold water also.

Unless the water company is willing to come shut off the water for you for free, UNLIKELY, you will need to be able to turn the water on and off yourself. You can buy the tool for the in-ground shutoff valve at Lowes or Home Depot in the Plumbing section.
 
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Old 05-06-01, 12:53 PM
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Rick,

Turning the water off at the hot water heater worked like a charm. However, when we tried to unscrew the faucet handle in the shower, the screw was frozen up. After lots of WD40 and tries with several different screwdrivers, we found that the slots in the screw head were stripped - rounded out big time. Any suggestions on how to get that little stinker unscrewed? We called Home Depot, and their advice was to get a hacksaw and cut off the faucet (thus requiring a whole new faucet) - I'm hoping for a less drastic solution than that. Any advice would be appreciated - thanks!

Lisa
 
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Old 05-06-01, 01:43 PM
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You have two options.

1. Break the handle off, this giving you access to the screw head and being able to use pliers to remove the screw, then just replace the handle with a new handle and new screw.

2. Hacksaw off thew handle and stem, then replace both handle and stem.

I myself would break the handle off and install a new one.

[Edited by Plumber2000 on 05-06-01 at 04:56]
 
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Old 05-06-01, 01:47 PM
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Wish I had a picture!! Is there anyway to get a pair of pliers or needlenose pliers on the screw head?

WD-40 is a poor penetrating oil. Go to an autoparts supply and buy some Liquid Wrench or Aero-Kroil. It will penetrate much better.

Remember the screw must be turned counter-clockwise. Is it possible to cut a new slot in the screwhead with a hacksaw blade? If not, you might want to try using a center punch and a hammer, after you have let it soak in Liquid Wrench. Put the center punch on the outside edge of the screw head, and tap it so it turns counter-clockwise. When you get it a little loose, grab the head with pliers.

You said slots, is it a slothead or phillips head screw?
 
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Old 05-08-01, 07:59 AM
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Rick,

It's a Phillips head screw (or should I say was). The handle is a lever handle, and the screw is set back about 1/2-3/4 inch inside the handle. So I don't think there's any way to get any kind of pliers on the screw head (needlenose *might* work, though). And it's a chrome faucet, so I don't know if we could break it off. I'll try some Liquid Wrench and see if that helps. Also, I had this thought - that faucet has had hot water running through it for quite a while now. Heat causes metal to expand - wonder if it would contract if I could cool it down enough? We tried the screw on the cold-water faucet to see which way we needed to turn, and it loosened up just fine. Maybe I'll just soak the thing in ice water! Or, since we turn the hot water off during the day, it might cool off enough like that to do some good. If I could get the screw loose and use a big enough screwdriver, we *might* be able to get it out without resorting to drastic measures.

Lisa
 
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Old 05-08-01, 02:00 PM
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If that does not work, even if it is chrome, it is probably pot metal (a casting), and Plumber2000 is right, it will break.
 
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Old 06-11-01, 02:55 PM
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Red face

OK, this is kind of embarrassing. A month later, and not only have we not solved the problem, it's gotten worse - the bathtub faucet (separate shower and tub) now drips, too! (Not only are we mechanically inept, we're also procrastinators.) We've broken down and called a plumber to fix both leaks - he's coming out tomorrow morning. My question now is this: For a time, both faucets leaked copiously when the hot water heater was turned on, and slightly less (but still quite noticeable) when the water was turned off at the hot water heater. Today my husband turned the hot water off after taking a shower, and now the shower is leaking very, very little and the bathtub is leaking somewhat - nothing like the pour we did have. ????? I know it's highly unlikely that the leaks have magically fixed themselves. What could have happened to suddenly reduce the leak like that? We've checked everywhere we can think of and can't find where any water has come out where it shouldn't be. I just hope we haven't messed around and now something has broken inside the walls and we'll have a real mess on our hands. Any thoughts on this???

Lisa
 
  #15  
Old 06-11-01, 03:11 PM
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FIRST PROBLEM

PRICE FISTER HD JUNK GO OUT AND BYE A GOOD BRASS HEAD WITH A RESTRICTOR WHICH WILL CUT DOWN THE WATER BILL
MJ BOSTON PLUMBER
 
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