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Parker

Plumbing Question

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I am a novice handyman trying to help out a lady friend of mine. She has a leaky faucet in her bathtub. The hot water does not appear to be shutting off completely leading to a constant drip. The drip is not a huge problem, but I was asked to fix it if I could.

The hot water and cold water run to separate fixtures/knobs in the bathtub / shower. When I started playing with the hot water knob the first thing I noticed was that there was much less tension with the hot water knob than the cold water. What I mean by this is that it is easier to turn on the hot water than the cold. Less pressure is needed to turn the knob. This led me to believe that something needed to be tightened with the hot water fixture. I turned off the water to the house, dis-assemble the hot water fixture, cleaned, re-applied teflon tape, and re-assembled making sure that all figtings were tight. It didn't solve the problem. The faucet still leaks and the hot water knob is still much looser than the cold. Any suggestions? Should I just replace the fixture?

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If it is an old faucets, they have a rubber packing washer that wears out in them. At my old house I had to replace them every couple years.

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with two separate faucets, you should have two separate valves. Sounds like the rubber washer inside the valve is worn out. This would explain the looseness, ie less friction between the washer and the valve seat. You need to take the valve apart to get to the washer. Usually you do this by popping the decorative cap off the top of the knob and unscrewing the valve stem from the seat. You should find a rubber washer screwed to the bottom of the valve stem. Take the washer and stem to a good hardware store and you can get a replacement washer for a couple bucks and a grateful lady friend for not having to buy a whole new fixture.

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A thought that occurred to me regarding the resistance to turning was the packing seal around the stem. The drip could likely be the seat seal as PeteB suggests. Many of those old valves also had a packing under the outer nut on the stem to keep water from leaking around the stem. Could check there. You should have seen this when you pulled the valve apart though.

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When I unscrewed the valve stem I don't remember seeing a washer at all. Is it possible it disintegrated over time? There were black particles that were evident when I took the valve stem out. The valve itself is in the wall and I didn't want to try to get at it. Does the washer go over the valve stem and somehow go into the valve? I am trouble visualising how the washer interacts with the threads of the stem and valve?

You guys have already been very helpful. Thanks.

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I found a pretty good self help for DIY at Ace Hardware's HSOforum. Find their home page, select the plumbing tab, locate the Problems and Soutions link, click on the Step-by-Step How To's link, and then look for "Reparing Facuets and Valves" under the plumbing heading.

Hope this helps clarify.

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Not trying to promote Ace. Just did a web search trying to find some information with drawings and theirs was the first one I came to.

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If the leak is from the spout it is a bad flat washer on the end of the cartridge.

If the leak is from the handle area, the packing nut usually needs to be tightened, if that does not correct the problem you need to add packing material, which would explain the lesser resistance while turning, and also the black residue you found. You can also buy packing material at the hardware store. If in a real bind, you can even use teflon tape for replacement backing material.

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Backlash nailed it, bring that stem to the local hardware store and they will help you find a close replacement rubber washer.

Tom

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Replace the fixture if you can. The majority of 2 handle tub/shower valves are not up to code anymore. Many times the repair jobs dont last very long and end up being band aids on a fixture that needs to be replaced. 30 to 40 years on a fixture is pretty good time and it does not owe anything to anyone any more. Put in a new one and she wont need to worry about it for another 30 to 40 years.

Ive seen many a repair end up costing more than a replacement.

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