Bathtub faucet/stem leak

Old 03-13-06, 11:44 AM
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Bathtub faucet/stem leak

This is kind of long but I have a problem with my bathroom tub/shower faucets. It started about two weeks ago with the hot water faucet that leaked. (Actually, prior to that I had trouble with my diverter not completely diverting, but I could live with that.)

Each time I used the hot water, the drip/leak was a tad worse and was harder to cut off. Last Saturday, I took off the handle and tried to tighten it a little more with my lug wrench Somewhere along the process, the hot water come on full blast and was next to impossible to cut off. (I crawled under the house to try to cut off the water to the tub only to discover the tub has no cutoff valve) I managed to stem the flow to a trickle and called in a friend who is pretty good at medium level plumbing repair. I then went out to the hot water tank and cut off the hot water.

He arrived and was able to remove the entire stem assemble. (from what I have read, I have determined I have compression type valves). We went off to Home Depot where we were able to talk to the plumbing dept’s expert. He looked at the valve and told me not only when my house was built (1954) but where (area) I lived. He said all the houses in our area (he lives in the same neighborhood) were built about the same time. The parts were not standard and are all beginning to wear out. Home Depot did not stock the valve we needed and said we would have to go to a plumbing supply place.

Unfortunately, at this point, since I could not use my HD card at the supply place, I had to wait until this Friday to get the part. So we left the hot water cut off leaving me with cold water only. For the past week, I have bathed via hot water from the stove.

I did notice that every time I cut on water anywhere in the house, the bathtub faucets (now only stems sticking out from the wall) leak from BOTH stems. It surprises me since the water is also coming out of the hot water valve even though the hot water is off.

Saturday, I went to the parts place and got two entire new valve/stems as well as a converted. Alas by the time I was able to get the part, my plumbing friend was leaving for a week’s vacation. I was able to replace the hot water and diverted stems without much difficulty. Unfortunately I broke the number one rule of plumbing repair. I did not cut off the water to the house. (And you can probably guess what happened next). The cold water stem was much harder to loosen but with a little WD-40 and much “fussin & cussin,” I got the stem loose and …

The water shot across the entire bathtub drenching me and making a mess in general. I raced out to the street and cut the water off at the main and sloshed back into the house.

I called another friend if for no other reason to have some one to vent/cry to. I also needed someone to stand at the tub as both the hot and cold waters were turned back on in order to scream if we needed to shut them off. In the mean time, with the water shut off, I was able to install the cold water valve also. When this friend arrived, we cut the main water back on, then the hot water and both stems are still leaking. However, with the hot water on, the leaks are still very bad, so we cut off the hot water again.

We have tightened up both stems as much as we can. He seems to think that there may be another problems as well since water is leaking from the hot water stem, even when only the cold faucet is on as well as they both leak through the stems when water being run anywhere in the house. (At that point all I thought about was a beer)

So, do I have another pipe/plumbing problem? And did I do something wrong with my installation of the stems.

Last edited by lka1012; 03-13-06 at 02:54 PM.
Old 03-19-06, 06:28 AM
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Lightbulb Go back to the place where you got a part

If I were you, I'd go back to the place where you got a part.

My house was built around the age about which you're talking, ... in mid '50.
Then, like you, we have a plenty of problem from kitchen to bathroom. However,
because of right experts, the house has been in good shape despite of the age.
We fixed bath-tab faucets like you're doing. Water coming from faucet is said
to be 'packing wear-out.' Most of our plumbing, bath-tab, basin and toilet was
all manufactured by American Standard which seems 'popular' at that time.

What we did first was that we went to the American Standard. There are ONLY
American Standards which carrying '50 and even '40ish parts. Luckily, we found a right
part. The price for this was NOT cheap. Then, salesperson recommended us to get whole
new set for bath-tab. However, we still stuck with this, old one. Mainly, we love old-style.

In regard to 'shut-off valve,' there must have somewhere in the house. In our case, main-
shut-off valve which shut both 'cold and hot' is located next to the bathroom. After shut-off
completely, we worked on both 'hot and cold' without much problem.

In my suggestion as old-house owener, try to go back to the store where you purchased part.
If there is a problem, go or call to a reliable plumber who gives a good direction how to get a right
part without charge. However, not every plumbers are honest to say about this, then you
may need to call several plumbers to get a right direction.

We, amateur plumber did both Kitchen and Bathroom plumbing, then you CAN do that.
Just you need a right store with right part.

PineCone living in the East Coast

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