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Old 08-21-2016, 06:22 PM   #1
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Leaky Shower


Seems everything in my house is leaking at once! Now I'm starting another "project" or fixing my leaky shower. It's dripping from the faucet as well as from the hand held shower spray that's attached to the shower head. The shower spray seems to be leaking more than the faucet. Refer to the pics as to how everything is set up. There's three faucet handles - hot on the left, middle is the knob that switches the water to the hand held sprayer, and right is the cold. The water coming out is cold, but I don't know whether that actually means this is the cold water side that's leaking.

I presume this is a valve repair issue that requires removal of the faucet handle(s). the question is: which handle? Since the shower spray is also leaking, should I start with the middle knob, which controls the diversion of water to the shower spray when it's on, and controls the hot/cold faucets when it's off.

Also, just like with my bathroom sink, there's no brand name on these faucets, so I guess there's no way to know before removing the handles what type of cartridge this uses? Thanks for any advice in getting this project going! (I've been putting it off long enough!)
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Old 08-21-2016, 06:33 PM   #2
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Re: Leaky Shower


You have got to remove the handles, and then use a faucet socket to remove each valve. The problem is most likely the rubber washer on the end of each valve. You can get a set of faucet sockets for $10 or so at a big box. Get some penetrant spray while you are there. The diverter will typically be the modt difficult to remove. If so, just remove the hot and cold, grease them up, replace the washers and put it back together. If you have all the parts and tools and if everything comes out without a fight it should take less than an hour. Be sure to turn the water off behind the shower BEFORE removing the valves. Once removed, turn the stop valves on and off quickly to blow out any debris that might be in there. Be careful because water will shoot out with the debris.

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Old 08-21-2016, 09:11 PM   #3
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Re: Leaky Shower


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Originally Posted by jeffmattero76 View Post
You have got to remove the handles, and then use a faucet socket to remove each valve. The problem is most likely the rubber washer on the end of each valve. You can get a set of faucet sockets for $10 or so at a big box. Get some penetrant spray while you are there. The diverter will typically be the modt difficult to remove. If so, just remove the hot and cold, grease them up, replace the washers and put it back together. If you have all the parts and tools and if everything comes out without a fight it should take less than an hour. Be sure to turn the water off behind the shower BEFORE removing the valves. Once removed, turn the stop valves on and off quickly to blow out any debris that might be in there. Be careful because water will shoot out with the debris.

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Thanks for the advice about the sockets, I will get a set. If the washers don't fix it, then it would be a cartridge replacement situation, right? Also, when you say turn the water off behind the shower.....where is the turn off? I know where to turn the water off under my bathroom sink, but I don't see a a turn off for the shower. Is it behind the wall or will I see it after I get the faucet handles off?
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Old 08-21-2016, 09:54 PM   #4
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Re: Leaky Shower


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Originally Posted by gypsy57 View Post
Thanks for the advice about the sockets, I will get a set. If the washers don't fix it, then it would be a cartridge replacement situation, right? Also, when you say turn the water off behind the shower.....where is the turn off? I know where to turn the water off under my bathroom sink, but I don't see a a turn off for the shower. Is it behind the wall or will I see it after I get the faucet handles off?
Look for an access panel around or behind shower. If no access panel, there may be a isolation shut off for shower in basement somewhere. If not, you will have to turn the main water off to house.
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Old 08-22-2016, 06:49 AM   #5
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Re: Leaky Shower


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Thanks for the advice about the sockets, I will get a set. If the washers don't fix it, then it would be a cartridge replacement situation, right? Also, when you say turn the water off behind the shower.....where is the turn off? I know where to turn the water off under my bathroom sink, but I don't see a a turn off for the shower. Is it behind the wall or will I see it after I get the faucet handles off?
In most homes there is an access panel (aka trouble door) on the other side of the wall where the faucet is located. Usually this is in a hallway or closet depending on the design of the house. Removing the access panel will give you access to the pipes supplying the tub. If you do not have an access panel, you will have to shut off the water in your basement. Sometimes there are basement shutoffs for the 2nd floor risers ( the pipes that carry water to the 2nd floor). If they are there, that is where you turn off the water. If not, you will have to shut off your main valve. That will be located where your water comes in from the street. If your wayer meter is inside your house, you will typically see a shutoff on both sides of the meter. When you remove the valves, there may be a name embossed into the stem of the valves. In my experience it is usually embossed into the diverter stem. Around here most of them are nade by Sterling. If the valves are in decent shape without a lot of corrosion on them, i turn the stem clockwise to expose the threads, and then apply a generous amount of grease to the threads and turn them in and out a few times. I then replace the washer on the end of the stem, and reinstall it. If they are corroded, i go to the plumbing supply house and buy a "rebuild kit" which contains two valves and a diverter valve, 3 valve seats and new estucheons and handles. The last time i did that the cost was around $70. The seats are small brass discs that the rubber washer presses against to shut off the water. Your seats will remain in the faucet body when you remove the valves. Put your finger in there to see if the existing seats are damaged or rough. If they are, you need a seat wrench to remove them but be warned that they are usually difficult to remove. If they are not damaged, just screw in the new valves, replace the estucheons and handles and you are done.

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Old 08-22-2016, 09:04 AM   #6
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Re: Leaky Shower


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Originally Posted by jeffmattero76 View Post
In most homes there is an access panel (aka trouble door) on the other side of the wall where the faucet is located. Usually this is in a hallway or closet depending on the design of the house. Removing the access panel will give you access to the pipes supplying the tub. If you do not have an access panel, you will have to shut off the water in your basement. Sometimes there are basement shutoffs for the 2nd floor risers ( the pipes that carry water to the 2nd floor). If they are there, that is where you turn off the water. If not, you will have to shut off your main valve. That will be located where your water comes in from the street. If your wayer meter is inside your house, you will typically see a shutoff on both sides of the meter. When you remove the valves, there may be a name embossed into the stem of the valves. In my experience it is usually embossed into the diverter stem. Around here most of them are nade by Sterling. If the valves are in decent shape without a lot of corrosion on them, i turn the stem clockwise to expose the threads, and then apply a generous amount of grease to the threads and turn them in and out a few times. I then replace the washer on the end of the stem, and reinstall it. If they are corroded, i go to the plumbing supply house and buy a "rebuild kit" which contains two valves and a diverter valve, 3 valve seats and new estucheons and handles. The last time i did that the cost was around $70. The seats are small brass discs that the rubber washer presses against to shut off the water. Your seats will remain in the faucet body when you remove the valves. Put your finger in there to see if the existing seats are damaged or rough. If they are, you need a seat wrench to remove them but be warned that they are usually difficult to remove. If they are not damaged, just screw in the new valves, replace the estucheons and handles and you are done.

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Thanks very much for your detailed response, it is appreciated! I don't have an access panel. The tub shares a wall with another bathroom, which also has no access panel. My home does not have a basement. I've heard that the water heater may have some sort of turn off valve, so I will check on that. It's in my garage, which is a detached garage. I'll probably have to turn it off at the street. Hopefully the stems won't be corroded and I can just do the washers.
Thanks very much for the info about the rebuild kit.

You had mentioned that all three faucets should be removed, and I was wondering, since I suspect the leak is on the cold water side, can I just start with removing that one handle, fixing it, and checking the leak before doing the other two? Or is there a reason why I would have to remove all three faucets? I'm hoping to avoid doing more than is necessary. Thanks for further info on that!
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Old 08-22-2016, 11:50 AM   #7
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Re: Leaky Shower


More than you ever wanted to know about changing the washers in tub faucet.

Changing the washers in a faucet can be a 30 minute task or it can turn into a 3 day job. The following is not meant to discourage you from this task. It is only meant to make you aware of problems or difficulties you may encounter and to be prepared to address then should they indeed occur.
Turning off the water.

Since your water heater is located in the garage it is most likely that you will find your main water shut off valve there. It will be on the piping from the street before it is connected to the water heater. There are several types of valves used as main valves.
One type is the quarter turn ball valve. With this type of valve, there is a brass ball inside the valve with a hole drilled through it. When the handle is parallel to the piping the hole is aligned with the piping and water flows. When the handle is perpendicular to the piping the hole is not aligned and the water stops. This is the most reliable type of valve but if you home has any age you are unlikely to have this type of valve unless you have had plumbing work done.
The most likely type of main valve found in older homes is the compression valve. With this type of valve, when you turn the handle the stem screws in and presses a rubber washer against an opening and stops the flow of water. The problem with this type of valve is that they often do not “hold”. That is they don’t stop the flow of water completely. As they have sat there unused for years the washer deteriorates and the surface the washer presses against develops small groves in it. This is the same type of valve as your shower valve and is what has happened to your shower valve.
Another type of valve often used as a main shut off valve is a gate valve. This type of valve uses a round disk on the end of the valve stem to stop the flow of water. As you screw the valve stem in it pushes the disk in to stop the flow. A gate valve is very reliable in stopping the flow. However, as the valve sits there for years unused, the connection between the valve stem and the disk or gate, deteriorates and when you go to open the valve the stem and the gate separate. The stem does not pull the gate up as you unscrew the stem. Now you are stuck with no water until you replace the main valve.
If you have a gate valve or if your main valve won’t hold, I recommend turning off the water at the street. Sometimes you can do that with a pair of adjustable pliers. Sometimes the valve at the street is too far down or you don’t have enough room to turn it with pliers. Then you will need a street or curb key. These are available at Home Depot, Lowe’s and plumbing supply houses.


Strongly suggest that you post a picture of your main shut off valve before doing anything. You don’t want to get the water turned off and have to call a plumber to get it back on.

Replacing faucet washers.

Now that you have the water turned off you can begin replacing the washers and seats of you shower valve.
First remove the center of the handle with a sharp pointed instrument such as a utility knife. That will expose the screw that holds the handle on. These are usually Phillips head screws. After removing the handle screw, pull the handle off. Sometimes the handle will easily pull off. Sometimes they won’t. If it won’t easily pull off you can try moving it up and down or left and right while pulling. If that doesn’t work you will need a faucet handle puller.

After removing the handle, remove the chrome sleeve covering the stem and the escutcheon plate. These should easily pull off
.
The valve stem should now be exposed for removal. Please note that the first, small nut that you see will be the bonnet nut. That nut is used to compress the seal around the stem to prevent water from leaking around the stem. The second, larger nut will be the nut you want to turn to remove the stem assembly. Use your tub and shower wrenches or sockets to turn that nut and remove the stem assembly.

After removal of the stem assembly you can replace the washer on the end of the valve stem. Washers come in different sizes. Probably should remove a stem assembly and then purchase washers.

Replacing the faucet seats

With a flashlight look up inside of the valve. In the back you will see the seats. The seats are replaceable surfaces that the washer presses against to stop the flow of water. Put your finger inside and feel the seats. They must be very smooth. The flow of water will often wear grooves in them. These grooves then tear up any new washers.
The seats are removed with your seat wrench. They come in different sizes, shapes and threads. Remove them and take them with you when you purchase your washers. Make certain you get the same size, shape and most importantly the same thread.

Also purchase some plumbers grease. Use it on the threads between the valve stem and the nut.

You should rebuild both the hot and cold stems at this time. No point in having to come back next week to do the same thing.
As stated earlier the diverter valve (the center valve) is the most difficult to rebuild. If you are not having any problems with it I recommend you not attempt to rebuild it.

As stated, “More than you ever wanted to know”
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Last edited by hkstroud; 08-22-2016 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 08-22-2016, 04:24 PM   #8
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Re: Leaky Shower


Quote:
Originally Posted by hkstroud View Post
More than you ever wanted to know about changing the washers in tub faucet.

Changing the washers in a faucet can be a 30 minute task or it can turn into a 3 day job. The following is not meant to discourage you from this task. It is only meant to make you aware of problems or difficulties you may encounter and to be prepared to address then should they indeed occur.
Turning off the water.

Since your water heater is located in the garage it is most likely that you will find your main water shut off valve there. It will be on the piping from the street before it is connected to the water heater. There are several types of valves used as main valves.
One type is the quarter turn ball valve. With this type of valve, there is a brass ball inside the valve with a hole drilled through it. When the handle is parallel to the piping the hole is aligned with the piping and water flows. When the handle is perpendicular to the piping the hole is not aligned and the water stops. This is the most reliable type of valve but if you home has any age you are unlikely to have this type of valve unless you have had plumbing work done.
The most likely type of main valve found in older homes is the compression valve. With this type of valve, when you turn the handle the stem screws in and presses a rubber washer against an opening and stops the flow of water. The problem with this type of valve is that they often do not “hold”. That is they don’t stop the flow of water completely. As they have sat there unused for years the washer deteriorates and the surface the washer presses against develops small groves in it. This is the same type of valve as your shower valve and is what has happened to your shower valve.
Another type of valve often used as a main shut off valve is a gate valve. This type of valve uses a round disk on the end of the valve stem to stop the flow of water. As you screw the valve stem in it pushes the disk in to stop the flow. A gate valve is very reliable in stopping the flow. However, as the valve sits there for years unused, the connection between the valve stem and the disk or gate, deteriorates and when you go to open the valve the stem and the gate separate. The stem does not pull the gate up as you unscrew the stem. Now you are stuck with no water until you replace the main valve.
If you have a gate valve or if your main valve won’t hold, I recommend turning off the water at the street. Sometimes you can do that with a pair of adjustable pliers. Sometimes the valve at the street is too far down or you don’t have enough room to turn it with pliers. Then you will need a street or curb key. These are available at Home Depot, Lowe’s and plumbing supply houses.


Strongly suggest that you post a picture of your main shut off valve before doing anything. You don’t want to get the water turned off and have to call a plumber to get it back on.

Replacing faucet washers.

Now that you have the water turned off you can begin replacing the washers and seats of you shower valve.
First remove the center of the handle with a sharp pointed instrument such as a utility knife. That will expose the screw that holds the handle on. These are usually Phillips head screws. After removing the handle screw, pull the handle off. Sometimes the handle will easily pull off. Sometimes they won’t. If it won’t easily pull off you can try moving it up and down or left and right while pulling. If that doesn’t work you will need a faucet handle puller.

After removing the handle, remove the chrome sleeve covering the stem and the escutcheon plate. These should easily pull off
.
The valve stem should now be exposed for removal. Please note that the first, small nut that you see will be the bonnet nut. That nut is used to compress the seal around the stem to prevent water from leaking around the stem. The second, larger nut will be the nut you want to turn to remove the stem assembly. Use your tub and shower wrenches or sockets to turn that nut and remove the stem assembly.

After removal of the stem assembly you can replace the washer on the end of the valve stem. Washers come in different sizes. Probably should remove a stem assembly and then purchase washers.

Replacing the faucet seats

With a flashlight look up inside of the valve. In the back you will see the seats. The seats are replaceable surfaces that the washer presses against to stop the flow of water. Put your finger inside and feel the seats. They must be very smooth. The flow of water will often wear grooves in them. These grooves then tear up any new washers.
The seats are removed with your seat wrench. They come in different sizes, shapes and threads. Remove them and take them with you when you purchase your washers. Make certain you get the same size, shape and most importantly the same thread.

Also purchase some plumbers grease. Use it on the threads between the valve stem and the nut.

You should rebuild both the hot and cold stems at this time. No point in having to come back next week to do the same thing.
As stated earlier the diverter valve (the center valve) is the most difficult to rebuild. If you are not having any problems with it I recommend you not attempt to rebuild it.

As stated, “More than you ever wanted to know”
Great explanation and especially the pictures. One question... Is there a trick to removing the valve seats. I have tried a couple of times without success. As a result i bought a seat grinding tool and simply smooth the face of the old seat using that. I am not a plumber but have rental properties and often do my own plumbing work. Any tips eould be greatly appreciated.

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Old 08-22-2016, 05:05 PM   #9
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Re: Leaky Shower


Quote:
Originally Posted by hkstroud View Post
More than you ever wanted to know about changing the washers in tub faucet.

Changing the washers in a faucet can be a 30 minute task or it can turn into a 3 day job. The following is not meant to discourage you from this task. It is only meant to make you aware of problems or difficulties you may encounter and to be prepared to address then should they indeed occur.
Turning off the water.

Since your water heater is located in the garage it is most likely that you will find your main water shut off valve there. It will be on the piping from the street before it is connected to the water heater. There are several types of valves used as main valves.
One type is the quarter turn ball valve. With this type of valve, there is a brass ball inside the valve with a hole drilled through it. When the handle is parallel to the piping the hole is aligned with the piping and water flows. When the handle is perpendicular to the piping the hole is not aligned and the water stops. This is the most reliable type of valve but if you home has any age you are unlikely to have this type of valve unless you have had plumbing work done.
The most likely type of main valve found in older homes is the compression valve. With this type of valve, when you turn the handle the stem screws in and presses a rubber washer against an opening and stops the flow of water. The problem with this type of valve is that they often do not “hold”. That is they don’t stop the flow of water completely. As they have sat there unused for years the washer deteriorates and the surface the washer presses against develops small groves in it. This is the same type of valve as your shower valve and is what has happened to your shower valve.
Another type of valve often used as a main shut off valve is a gate valve. This type of valve uses a round disk on the end of the valve stem to stop the flow of water. As you screw the valve stem in it pushes the disk in to stop the flow. A gate valve is very reliable in stopping the flow. However, as the valve sits there for years unused, the connection between the valve stem and the disk or gate, deteriorates and when you go to open the valve the stem and the gate separate. The stem does not pull the gate up as you unscrew the stem. Now you are stuck with no water until you replace the main valve.
If you have a gate valve or if your main valve won’t hold, I recommend turning off the water at the street. Sometimes you can do that with a pair of adjustable pliers. Sometimes the valve at the street is too far down or you don’t have enough room to turn it with pliers. Then you will need a street or curb key. These are available at Home Depot, Lowe’s and plumbing supply houses.


Strongly suggest that you post a picture of your main shut off valve before doing anything. You don’t want to get the water turned off and have to call a plumber to get it back on.

Replacing faucet washers.

Now that you have the water turned off you can begin replacing the washers and seats of you shower valve.
First remove the center of the handle with a sharp pointed instrument such as a utility knife. That will expose the screw that holds the handle on. These are usually Phillips head screws. After removing the handle screw, pull the handle off. Sometimes the handle will easily pull off. Sometimes they won’t. If it won’t easily pull off you can try moving it up and down or left and right while pulling. If that doesn’t work you will need a faucet handle puller.

After removing the handle, remove the chrome sleeve covering the stem and the escutcheon plate. These should easily pull off
.
The valve stem should now be exposed for removal. Please note that the first, small nut that you see will be the bonnet nut. That nut is used to compress the seal around the stem to prevent water from leaking around the stem. The second, larger nut will be the nut you want to turn to remove the stem assembly. Use your tub and shower wrenches or sockets to turn that nut and remove the stem assembly.

After removal of the stem assembly you can replace the washer on the end of the valve stem. Washers come in different sizes. Probably should remove a stem assembly and then purchase washers.

Replacing the faucet seats

With a flashlight look up inside of the valve. In the back you will see the seats. The seats are replaceable surfaces that the washer presses against to stop the flow of water. Put your finger inside and feel the seats. They must be very smooth. The flow of water will often wear grooves in them. These grooves then tear up any new washers.
The seats are removed with your seat wrench. They come in different sizes, shapes and threads. Remove them and take them with you when you purchase your washers. Make certain you get the same size, shape and most importantly the same thread.

Also purchase some plumbers grease. Use it on the threads between the valve stem and the nut.

You should rebuild both the hot and cold stems at this time. No point in having to come back next week to do the same thing.
As stated earlier the diverter valve (the center valve) is the most difficult to rebuild. If you are not having any problems with it I recommend you not attempt to rebuild it.

As stated, “More than you ever wanted to know”
Thank you for that detailed overview, I will definitely consult it along the way to doing this job. I looked at my water heater and saw a couple of knobs/valves, but have no idea what they control, so probably will turn off at the street. I have a curb key and a friend and I checked the street turn off a few months ago and it seemed okay and would turn okay. I posted a couple of pics of the valves I saw around my water heater, just in case any of them can be identified. I haven't tried turning them.

About the washers, I will buy a value pak of 100 washers, so hopefully the ones I need will be in there. What size do you commonly encounter on the end of the valve? (the one you replace).
Or is it quite variable among different brands and styles?
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Old 08-22-2016, 06:05 PM   #10
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Re: Leaky Shower


Please post another picture. Move back and show all the pipes in one picture.
Size of washer could be anything, 3/8 or 1/2 ". Best to just wait an purchase what you need when you are shopping for seats. You will never use 100 washers and most will be sizes and shapes that you will never use.
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Old 08-22-2016, 06:27 PM   #11
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Re: Leaky Shower


Quote:
One question... Is there a trick to removing the valve seats.
The only trick I know of is to have the proper tool. The seat kit that I have is not the ones shown. It is simply a kit with square bar, tapered on each end to different sizes, a couple of Allen or hex wrenches a few other that I have never used. I have a home made one that is simply a 1/4 steel bar. This is something I picked up about 35 years ago.
The tapered square bar seems to fit more than anything else.

Look at the seat. If the inside of the seat is hex shaped use a hex or Allen wrench. If it is round with four notches in the edge use the square tapered bar.

In the kit shown one of the wrenches will have a hex shape with about three different sizes. The other will be square with about three sizes.

Two potential problems with the type shown.
One is the handle (the "L") is so long that you hit the wall or the spout when you are screwing out. I have been known to cut that type into because of that when I had to use one.
Also recall that at one time the wrench would not go far enough to use the larger size. It bottomed out on the back of the valve before I could get to the size I needed. Had cut the tip off.

I'll see if I can find pictures of the square taper bar type. If I can I will post it.

See this video, note that at 2:02 he is using the square end of the seat removal tool.
Attached Thumbnails
Leaky Shower-faucet-seats.jpg   Leaky Shower-faucet-seats1.jpg  
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Last edited by hkstroud; 08-22-2016 at 06:49 PM.
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Old 08-22-2016, 08:19 PM   #12
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Re: Leaky Shower


I take it back. That valve that is on the PEX piping doesn't necessarily look like a globe valve. It might be a globe, it might not be.

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Old 08-22-2016, 08:26 PM   #13
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Re: Leaky Shower


When shutting the water supply off I shut the water heater down.
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:17 PM   #14
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Re: Leaky Shower


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Originally Posted by hkstroud View Post
I take it back. That valve that is on the PEX piping doesn't necessarily look like a globe valve. It might be a globe, it might not be.
Attached are a couple of pics of the water heater from farther back. Not sure it's very easy to see what is what though. About the various sizes of washers, usually I would buy needed items after knowing what is required, but unfortunately i will have to buy things before the job is done because a friend is going to try to help me with the project during the Xmas holidays, and don't want to be out trying to get tools or necessary things at that time. So, I'll just have to end up with a lot of washers I don't need! Until that time, the shower/tub leak will continue and my water bill will reflect that. Luckily, it hasn't raised my bill TOO much....but will be nice to get it fixed in Dec.
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Leaky Shower-waterheater1ab.jpg   Leaky Shower-waterheater2a.jpg  
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:43 PM   #15
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Re: Leaky Shower


OK. Still incline to believe that the valve pointed out earlier is main hut off valve and is a gate valve.

I guess I'm spoiled. Home Depot is only 3 blocks away, I go by every morning right after breakfast just to see I they have any thing new.
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