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kswoot 09-29-2008 10:47 AM

HELP! I'm NOT a plumber. And I don't play one on T.V.! UPDATE: I CALLED A PLUMBER
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We've lived in our house 2 years and have had a plumber "fix" our dripping shower faucet twice already. Now $300 later it is dripping yet again.
The house was built in the 60's and the plumbing is original. It is a two handle set-up. It is the hot water that drips from the faucet. The first time the plumber replaced the valve and handles. A few months later,
drip..drip..drip. The plumber wouldn't call us back so we called another guy who replaced the washers($200). A couple of months later it started dripping again. This is my son's bathroom so we have been making him go down to the basement and turn the hot water on and off down there. (Much to his chagrin!:wink:) Now it is dripping even when it is turned off at the basement. How can that be, and any ideas? I would like to try and repair this myself. My husband says "call the plumber, but I'd like to give it a whirl first! Any helpful tips would be much appreciated. (Or should I just go ahead and call the plumber?
UPDATE:10/2/08 My husband has been out of town and returns tonight, and I STILL haven't called a plumber! PLEASE help me fix this before he comes home! I have been working at it, and here is where I'm at: I've removed the packing nut and the washer(see picture of washer)
It looks good to me, but what do I know? It isn't flat or worn looking.
BTW the book says remove packing, which there wasn't any, and remove screw that holds washer, which there was no screw. It says to examine the stem, but I don't know if I am suppose to try and remove the stem.
It doesn't say how to do that, and there are no pictures. I think I see the valve seat, but I don't know if the strem comes out first. I have one of those ratchet and socket thing-ies, but can't get around the end of the stem to turn the ratchet. See pics of what tools I have, the washer, and
what I see when I'm looking "down the pipe"!
Thanks for any assistance. BTW: the handle at the basement shutoff feels damp:huh:
UPDATE 10/10/08 I surrender..I called a plumber! He told me over the phone that I need a new valve. He gave me an estimate of nearly $900 to replace the valve, and replace the trim with Delta Michael Graves designer(that's just what he uses.) It will go from a 2 knob to a single lever. He also has to create an access panel in a closet. I called another plumber for a second estimate. They suggested I go to the MOEN web site and pick out the trim and valve i want and then they will charge $300 to do the work, and will order the parts i use at a discount.
If I go with the second plumber the labor is $195 less, but I have the hassle of pickling this stuff out. They said Moen is more reliable in the long run than Delta.
QUESTION: I have spent hours looking at Moen. Should I convert to a single lever and have two silver doo-hickies covering the faucet holes, or should I choose trim that has two handles? Also, I'm thinking just the simplest valve, or is it best to get the pressure adjusting/temp.control valve? Any advise from all you wonderful plumbers would be so appreciated! I'm trying to keep the cost down, but don't want to sacrifice quality.

clasact 09-29-2008 12:12 PM

dont know that I would call a plumber but it sounds like more then a washer is worn out so when they replace these things its just a temp fix.For what you have spent already you could have replaced the whole thing and thats what I would do now.Its not that big of a job and once you pick out what you want come back if you have any problems

kswoot 09-29-2008 12:21 PM

Thanks for your quick response. When you say "replace the whole thing"
do yo mean the handles and the spout?

Also, Why would it be that the water still drips enough to fill up a bucket if
both the hot and cold are turned off down in the basement? Do we need to turn it off at the water heater too?


clasact 09-29-2008 12:37 PM

the only thing I can think of that would keep it dripping is the water left in the line.When I say replace the whole thing yes I mean all of it.You said it was built in the 60s so that means the fixture is over 40 years old.You have had it repaired twice and it didnt hold.When you go to store to buy this you will find repair kits but you have already replaced what you will find in those kits so once and for all just put a new set up on and be done with it.Hey you might just find something you like even more and when you see how easy it is you might start replaceing others

kgphoto 09-29-2008 12:39 PM

Check the pressure coming into the house. See if they replaced the seats when they did the valves and washers.

If this sounds like a foreign language to you, then get a plumbing book from the local building store or library.

Sounds like your plumbers aren't very good, or you have a bunch of crud in your lines that is fouling your valves.

kswoot 09-29-2008 12:44 PM

Would there be enough water in the lines to fill a bucket 2x?

When I turn the tub nob off it stops for a minute and then starts dripping out of the shower head...Grrr.

kgphoto 09-29-2008 12:45 PM

Crud doesn't leak out of your lines to fill the buckets, it blocks the valves so they don't close all the way.

kswoot 09-29-2008 12:47 PM

The guy checked the pressure last time Charged $75 to do it). I have a plumbing book so I'll look at it.

clasact 09-29-2008 12:48 PM

well that depend on how much pipe is from the shut off to the tub and what else is connected to that line.I was replaceing some line not to long ago I shut the line off and still was able to fill several buckets and from point A to B was about 30feet

kswoot 09-29-2008 01:17 PM

I understand that crud doesn't fill the buckets, water does! But with the lines shut off at the basement shouldn't the water in the lines eventually
run out? (since last night)? Nothing else runs off these lines.

When this happened before, shutting off the basement valves took care of the dripping. So does it soud like we have two seperate issues going on:
Crud keeping the basement valve from turning of, and another issue with the tub fixtures? Sorry to be such a dunce about this!

clasact 09-29-2008 01:21 PM

yes sounds like it.I have seen where a plumber can use forced air to clean the lines out but that aint going to fix the first problem.
Just wondering what kind of lines you have copper ,plastic ,galvanized

kswoot 09-29-2008 01:25 PM

I was afraid of that! We have copper pipes in the basement, not sure what is behind the shower.

clasact 09-29-2008 01:32 PM

seeing that you live in the big A I would think your on city water which should be half way good.The reason I asked about the pipe is galv tends to get build up faster and was used in alot of older home.One thing that might help clean out the crud would be a softner on your system.That still wont fix the first problem but it may help with some problems down the road

Marvin Gardens 09-30-2008 01:11 PM

There are different types of education. The one where you pay to go to school and have someone teach you things. And the one where you do things yourself and learn along the way. They can cost the same overall.

Hiring a plumber is not education and you learn nothing.

Do your research and get your hands dirty. If you are afraid of copper and want to learn how to solder then go to and search for soldering copper pipes. It is easy. Then get some copper pipes at the store and the MAP gas, flux, solder and sand paper and practice.

Then learn to trouble shoot. Find out where the leak is happening. No sense in replacing everything. Once you know where the leak it then pull that out and see what parts look worn. Go to the local plumbing store and ask questions. They can often get you the parts you need.

If your pipes have not forzen then my guess is that you have a bad bushing in the faucet. There is probably lots of crap in the faucet that needs to be cleaned out which causes the seals to go bad prematurely.

The valve in the basement probably has the same problem. It is just old and warn. Turn off the water to the house and pull that out and see what is wrong there.

Overall it will be an education....or not of you call the plumber. Even that is an education...of financial management to pay the bill.

4just1don 09-30-2008 01:41 PM

IF the old style washers are getting torn up causing the dripping,,,the seats are pitted and tearing the washers. I agree that a softener makes plumbing last longer. I also agree when all else fails,replace the whole faucet,,,same goes for the valve that leaks,,,I prefer 1/4 turn steam and water valves, never had those go bad YET when the globe and gates dont last from noon to dinner!! IF you have room for individual valves just for this faucet,,,would dothose too,,,makes 'next time' that much easier. Sweating copper isnt real hard,,,takes some practice and experience to get the right hot,,but doable.(I personally prefer threaded fittings and pipe cause I KNOW those are tight when I get done with it!! ) IF their isnt access to back side of this tub faucet,,,make one!! Leave it off for awhile to 'make sure' no leaks!!

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