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diy'er on LI 09-02-2012 09:30 PM

leaky shower faucet
Reluctant DIY plumber here :) My skill level is "beginner". Have replaced several sink faucets and sink drain assemblies... no more than that. Never tried to fix a faucet before...
Because the shut-off valve is hidden within the wall (tiled on both sides!), I want to make sure I know what I'm doing, because I'll have to shut off the main to the house until I'm done with the repair. (Hence my apprehension!) The goal is to avoid a costly tile job right now. (We have maxed out our DIY budget for the summer already!)

We have a 2 handle shower/tub faucet (with diverter) (cheap- "sterling" brand from 1975). The cold water valve is leaking. (I indend to replace both.) Online, some mention replacing a series of screws and washers (ex. and others mention having to hunt down a specific cartridge.

Here are my questions:
Do you think we will have to replace washers/screws, or cartridges? Since I'm hardly intelligible in plumbing lingo, what should I bring to the plumbing supplier to ensure I get everything I need?

Do you think I will even be able to find all the necessary parts there? (My worry is that it isn't a well known brand and it's almost 40 years old. I don't know how standardized these parts are.)

Is it possible to replace the whole faucet (or at least the visible portions) to basically give the shower a cheap facelift while I have the water shut-off anyway? (Can I get compatible new handles and tub spout?)

I'm presuming it's impossible to replace the whole faucet assembly without wall access.... :( (this is what I really want to do)

Thanks for your help!!!!! fingers crossed that we're not bathing at the Y next week!

oh'mike 09-02-2012 09:48 PM

Sterling is now owned by Kohler--so you have a good chance that parts are still available---

If you can remove the plastic handles and photograph the stem and nut assembly---someone here will be able to walk you through the process---

You should be able to remove the guts---take them to a plumbing supply house and get new---

Worse case---photo the parts and send to Sterling for ID and have them send parts.

As to replacing the trims? Ask them if replacements are still available---

diy'er on LI 09-02-2012 10:11 PM

removing the handles is simple. They're metal and have an unhidden screw right in the middle. I'll take a pic tomorrow.

It's reassuring that I might be able to get replacement bits.

Thanks so much for your input. I'd be much less apprehensive about this little job if I didn't have to shut off the main... But alas, the builders apparently never heard about access panels :(

oh'mike 09-03-2012 05:33 AM

Cheap thinking----shut off valves on a bathroom would make servicing the room so simple----yet they are seldom installed.

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