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Old 03-14-2011, 09:17 PM   #1
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Clawfoot tub faucet problem + old valve


I could use some advice--hopefully this is an easy question for somebody.

I was going to attempt to fix the hot-water-leaking faucet in our clawfoot tub, but right now I'm stuck at how to turn off the valve underneath the tub. The shut off valve is stuck and I don't want to break it. Our house is over 100 years old, and the bathtub pipes don't seem much newer (I think they're galvanized steel). The valve handle is round, and researching the internet I've found a couple different valves it could be, but I can't tell what kind it is. I'm thinking that one type is much more easily broken than the other. Can you tell what kind of valve it is from the picture? Can I use force to turn it off? Or should I be more careful by tapping, wd40, vinegar soaking? The picture is of the cold shutoff, I have to reach down into the tiny space between the tub and corner to get to the hot.


I am not going to replace the valve, and I want to avoid having to turn off the main water because there's 2 other apartments in the house. I only have a couple dollars until Friday, so I'm hoping the faucet is fixable, or maybe it'll take me that long anyhow to get the valve shut.

We rent from a "friend", and I avoid asking him to fix anything because he tends to get extremely sidetracked, turning the smallest job into a weeks long reconstruction project. It's also stressful having to point out code violations in the work he's doing. Plus we get reduced rent to to minor repairs around the house.

I also posted a video of the leaky faucet. Is it worth trying to fix/adjust, or can you tell I'm gonna need to buy new parts?


Thanks for any advice you can give me. Sorry if this post is way too detailed.

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Old 03-14-2011, 09:29 PM   #2
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Clawfoot tub faucet problem + old valve


you're not going to get new parts for that old valve. put a pair of channellocks on the handle and try to make it turn that way. it'll probably start moving, but it will also probably leak. if you're not comfortable pulling the tub to replace the valve, just shut off the hot water to do what you need to do. give the other tenants enough notice before you do it

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Old 03-14-2011, 10:31 PM   #3
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Clawfoot tub faucet problem + old valve


Thank you. Pulling the tub is a future project (I also want to refinish it).
Can you tell from the pic if this is either a gate or a globe valve? They look the same to me, but the gate valve looks less likely to break. Also, isn't it supposed to be either all the way on, or all the way off? Hard to tell with such corrosion.

If it's like the ones in our basement by washtub, I'm expecting leaks. Those we just put a bucket under and it seals itself back up after about a day.

Do you think it would be easier to turn if I turn on the leaking faucet? Something about pressure...

And, if I have to shut off water main, is it recommended to turn the gas hot water heaters to pilot only? In the past, when I've mentioned this around here, I get a big sigh and "you can do it if you want to".
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Old 03-14-2011, 10:47 PM   #4
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Clawfoot tub faucet problem + old valve


Most likely you have a globe valve. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globe_valve The problem with old globe valves is that the disk/plug can deteriorate making it so that you cannot close them all the way.. no mater what.

They are maintainable to a degree. You can take them apart and replace the disk/plug, so long as the seat isn't damaged you'll be ok. Also if it is leaking from the stem it may need repacking. Not a hard DIY project. WD-40 or PB Blaster can help get things apart. Take pics as you go so you don't forget how things went together.

WARNING - old galvanized steel pipes can be fragile - exercise lots of caution when wrenching on it. A busted pipe will mean no hot water for anyone until a plumber comes. I say this having broken one, luckily I could shut off my water for half the day and I had an easy place I could splice some shut-off valves into the supply lines.

Are you paying for water? If no, I'd let it leak 'til the landlord fixes it... but I tend to be a chicken about plumbing repairs (See warning above).


PS. IMO don't spend any money on refinishing the tub if you are just 'renting from a friend'. Save your money toward getting a better place.
Good luck.
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Old 03-14-2011, 10:54 PM   #5
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Clawfoot tub faucet problem + old valve


Quote:
Originally Posted by kit View Post
Thank you. Pulling the tub is a future project (I also want to refinish it).
Can you tell from the pic if this is either a gate or a globe valve? They look the same to me, but the gate valve looks less likely to break. Also, isn't it supposed to be either all the way on, or all the way off? Hard to tell with such corrosion.

If it's like the ones in our basement by washtub, I'm expecting leaks. Those we just put a bucket under and it seals itself back up after about a day.

Do you think it would be easier to turn if I turn on the leaking faucet? Something about pressure...

And, if I have to shut off water main, is it recommended to turn the gas hot water heaters to pilot only? In the past, when I've mentioned this around here, I get a big sigh and "you can do it if you want to".
It is a globe valve. But treat it like a gate.

I would not torque that valve handle or the stem with a wrench. You will likely break the handle entirely or snap the stem. The reason? With galv steel pipes, minerals may have clogged the valve seat area. They are like rocks. You can destroy the seat as well trying to crush them upon the seat.

Warn the neighbors.

The water should be shut off, then remove the stem from the valve always using a back up wrench, one on the body of the valve and the other on the wrenching flats. Other wise you might inherit a valve staying with the wrench. Old galv pipes can get weak and snap off. You will be able to see the seat and if it is clear of debris. While you have the stem assembly off you can renew it: repack it, re-washer it and lube it up and it will work like new. If the seat has cavities you can grind it down. There are a couple of seat grinder tools around, stone and lathe.

Old washers may have washer screws that are frozen into the stem. You will know this after you destroy the head of the screw...LOL. Peal the old washer out and with a miniature channellock try to firmly grab what's left of the screw stem and twist it out. Heating the screw and washer cup area is always recommended to help loosen the screw. Not so much heat that you smoke the packing out of the stem. You're after thermal shock not annihilation. OR you can take a dremmel with a thin cutting wheel and slice a nice slot in the screw head and try a screw driver.

When none of the above works, I have drilled out the washer screw and re-tapped/chased the threads.

The same applies to the tub faucet as well.
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Old 03-15-2011, 06:40 PM   #6
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Clawfoot tub faucet problem + old valve


Thank you for all the advice. I'm going to let it drip until this weekend, maybe trying to coax the valve into turning a few times a day. Since it is so difficult to reach, the last thing I want is for it to break. (in the pic-that tiny 5 in. corner between tub and wall, and a reach almost to floor) If I never budges, I'm turn off the main to fix the faucet.

@leah Refinishing the tub is sortof a combination of learning, and love-for the tub and this house. We live on an awesome 1 block long street, and aren't planning on moving for at least 6 years. An upstairs tenant has lived here 26 years, and I think I would only move if a houses on this street goes on the market.

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