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Thread: Leaky shower/faucet

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    trammellclan3 is offline New Member
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    Leaky shower/faucet

    I have an ever increasing problem. My stand up shower has a 2 handle type faucet. A while back, the hot faucet started leaking around the handle. It has since progressed and is now leaking from the cold handle and I have a constant stream of water dripping from my shower head. I put a bucket in there to see how much water I am losing. It has increased from 4+ gal every 8-10 hours to 4+ gal every 4 or less hours. I can't afford to pay a plumber right now, but I can't afford to not fix it because of the amout of water and electricity that is being wasted. I can be pretty handy when I try, but I need some very detailed instructions on repairing this problem myself. My initial question is, how do I turn the hot water off so that I don't burn up my water heater? The only place I know to turn the water off is at the meter. And then, where do I go from there? I didn't mention that my house was built in 1968 (if that has any plumbing significance)and the basement area was finished sometime after that, but I'm not sure when. I have lived here 6 years myself. Will someone please help me before my water/electricity bill equals my mortgage.

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    HayZee518 is offline Deity
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    Go to your electrical panel and shut off the double 30 breaker that feeds the water heater. Then shut off the main supply at the meter and bleed down the lines at the lowest faucet - do your repairs on the faucet in question. When you're done. turn on the water and bleed air out of the system at all faucets - cold and hot. Once you're satisfied then flip on the breaker for the hot water tank.

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    LazyPup's Avatar
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    YOu state that the leak is constant even when the shower is not in use, therefore the leak must be on the supply side of the shower control valves. Unfortunately shower & tub mixers are the only fixtures that are not required to have indidual shutoff valves therefore in order to service a shower or tub mixer you must turn the water off at zone valves to the bathroom or at the house main shutoff valve. (many homes do not have zone valves).

    There are two likely causes of you leak.

    1.The stems have vibrated loose and water is leaking out though the stem mount threads.

    2. The mixer is mounted in an outside wall in a cold climate and either the mixer body or the supply lines have frozen and ruptured.

    Begin by turning the water off at a zone valve or the House main, then open the valves to relieve the residual pressure.

    Begin by removing the screw that holds the handle on the stem (handle center). Then carefully remove the handle. If the handles have not been removed in a long time they may be difficult to remove. The preferred method is to use a "faucett handle puller" (available at all hardware stores for about $10).

    Next remove the TRIM ESCUTCHEONS. Most of then are mounted on the stem body by means of a fine thread inside the brass tubing in the inner end while some are just slipped on by friction fit. In either case, carefully unscrew it in a counterclockwise direction and it should slip right off. If you must use a pair of pliers to turn it, wrap the escutcheon with a rag to protect the finish. (If you happen to have a vinyl strap wrench that would be best to protect the finish).

    On the outer end of the stem there is a stem packing nut, that tightens the packing that seals the stem shaft. DO NOT TURN THE PACKING NUT).

    Look in the hole and examine the stem where it is attached to the mixer body. If you see evidence of a leak around the base of the stem you may be able to correct the problem by removing the stems and replacing the nylon flat washer seals on the base of the stem. (Once you have the stem out take it to a local hardware store and they should be able to supply you new flat washers.)

    Most stems have a set of flats like a bolt head molded into the body of the stem near the base where it is attached to the mixer body. You may need a set of plumbers sockets to remove the stem. (A full set of plumbers sockets is available at all local hardware stores for about $10).

    The handle pullers, plumbers sockets and vinyl strap wrenches inexpensive common tools and would be handy in any homeowers DIY tool kit. Combining those with a set of screwdrivers and a pair of channel lock pliers will handle most common DIY plumbing projects.

    If replacing the step mount flat washers does not resolve your problem you will have to open the wall to examine the mixer body and supply piping. NOTE: If you have tile, a fiberglass or vinyl enclosure it would be best to try to access from the backside through an adjacent sheetrock wall if possible as it is a lot easier to repair the sheetrock as the tile or vinyl enclosure.







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    trammellclan3 is offline New Member
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    I have another problem. My breaker box is not well labeled (old house). The one inside has 1 double 30 breaker and I have 1 outside in a breaker box on the side of my house under my electrical meter. My silly question is, how do I know which one it is? I don't want to turn the wrong one off. I did have to have a new water heater about 2 yrs ago and I don't think I remember them coming inside to turn the power off, but I can't be positive. Is it possible that the one outside is the correct one?

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    LazyPup's Avatar
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    Trammellclan3..

    For personal safety if you are comtemplating doing any service or repair on any electrical device it would ba a good idea to invest in a single probe voltage tester and a Volt/Ohm/Milliameter, then if nothing else, learn the fundamentals of how to test if there is voltage present on a circuit before working on it. This would only require about $20 to $25 and a couple hours of your time, but it could ultimately save your life.

    I think all the tradesmen who respond here will agree with me, even if electrical work is not you trade, you soon learn how to check for a hot line, or go for an electrician rather than take a fools chance.

    In the mean time, if your water heater was just installed within the last couple years, Check your water heater installation closely. In the Plumbing Code, and I am sure Hayzee will confirm the NEC would agree, that when installing an electric water heater, if there is not a direct line of sight from the heater to the breaker you are required to have an "electrical disconnect" at the water heater location. You can pull that disconnect whenever draining, servicing or changing an electric water heater.

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    trammellclan3 is offline New Member
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    Thanks Lazy Pup. My shower faucet is no longer leaking, thanks to your most excellent instructions. I couldn't have done it w/o you. I did it for less than $3, which is alot less than a plumber would have cost.

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    LazyPup's Avatar
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    That is great to hear, but it appears you left out the most important part of the job. You material cost was $3 but you didnt allow anything for labor. Write up a bill for another $35 or $40 for labor, drop that in the cookie jar and take the money out of the household budget, then grab your significant other and go out to dinner.

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    Michas is offline New Member
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    Hey,

    Just wanted to say thanks also. I was having the same trouble when I found your post via a yahoo search. Read your post, went to the store, 15 minutes of labor and the leak is fixed. No plumber and I learned something.

    Thanks,

    Michas

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    LazyPup's Avatar
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    Michas,,Welcome to the forum and thank you for sharing your experience with us. Please bookmark the site and feel free to post questions at any time, and please share our website address with family and friends.

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    alicynw is offline New Member
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    Would the instructions above work for an outside faucet, as well? I forgot to cover my outside faucet (attached to back side of house)this past winter. Now it leaks a steady stream (from up around where the handle attaches to the faucet) whenever I try to use it. Thanks in advance for any advice.

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