Shower Handles Hard to Turn

Old 06-25-04, 07:44 AM
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Shower Handles Hard to Turn

Hi folks,

I am brand new to this forum and website, so I am still finding my way around. I did some looking for topics about similar problems but did not see anything. So here is the problem:

We have a tub/shower with three handles (separate hot, cold, and diverter). All three handles are hard to turn both on and off. This makes it difficult to get the water all the way off so the faucet and shower do not drip.

It also makes it difficult to get the water temp right since the hot and cold handles are so tight that they will move back slightly when turned. In other words: you turn the water on counter-clockwise to a position, when you let go, it will move back slightly clockwise.

Other than what I have been reading the last couple days, while researching this problem, I know very little (nothing) about the workings of faucets. So I am not sure where to even start. Is this a matter of taking the valve stem out and lubricating it? Has someone just tightened it too much? Do I need a new valve stem? Or is the problem as simple as replacing the handles (I doubt it)?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Old 06-25-04, 01:12 PM
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Hello: Vic. Welcome to the Do It Yourself web site.

I'm not a plumber. Just happened to be reading a few threads in this topic and happened to notice your question. Is rather unique. And having the same or like problem myself long time ago, I discovered what the problem was, at least in my case. Hope this helps you.

The packing material was too tightly stuffed around the faucet stems. The packing material is under the cap nut that holds the valve stem in place. Removing that nut and installing new packing material in the correct amount resolved the problem, in my case.

The packing material under the valve stem nut keeps the water from leaking out from the stem. Seems someone prior to me had a valve leaking from the stem problem. That person installed too much packing material, which did stop the leak but also made the stems difficult to turn.

May be a good idea to replace the entire valves, if they appear to be worn, old and or deteriorated, etc. The water supply will have to be turned off prior to any attempted repairs.

May also be worn, swollen, deteriorated or incorrect washers on the ends of the valves. Replacing them may solve the problem. Much may depend upon who fixed it last time. A visit to any local plumbing parts store may also help determine the cause and solution.

The resident plumbing professionals are most likely to offer you professional advice, since the packing nut material may not be the final solution to the problem. Check back on your question several more times.

Use the reply button to add any additional information, replies, etc. Any additional information you add will remain within this posting. Using this method also moves the topic back up to the top of the list automatically.

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Old 06-25-04, 01:54 PM
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I agree with Tom.
Sounds like too much packing string to me, too.
There are two types, white teflon and black graphite packing string. Turn off the water, remove the handles and retaining caps, and pull the old valve packing. Just wrap enough new string around the stem to prevent leaking, and tighten the retaining cap back down on it.
You might want to smear a little plumber's grease on the valve o-rings, too, while you have them out.
Good Luck!
Old 06-28-04, 03:50 AM
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Thanks for the information. I haven't opened them up yet, so I do not know if there is deterioration in the valves. But it sounds like the packing material is a good place to start. I appreciate it.

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