Replacing or fixing shower and sink faucet handles?

Hi,
We just moved into a new (to us) home that was built in 1993. It has a dual sink master bathroom, stand up shower, bathtub and a half bath downstairs. In each of these, there is what appears to be pretty much the exact same hot/cold faucet handles. No clue what make, there are no markings whatsoever so Im guessing its some generic brand they used in the houses at the time.
The problem is that the handles are all loose and wobbly, with a lot of play in them. Tightning the handles didnt change anything, so Im sure they are just old and need to be replaced. I can replace the 3 sinks, but Im particularly concerned with the shower and bathtub in the master bath. There do not appear to be any access panels, and everything (tub included) is behind tile.
Is there any magic solution? Will it be necessary to hack away at the tile to gain access to these old fixtures? Im reasonably handy, but also pretty busy- Im not sure how much of my time this project would take if I got into it.
Can anyone give me any clues or suggestions as to what I would be getting into? This way I can either go for it or just pay a plumber to do it.
Thanks, Bryan
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When I first read your post I though it said 1933 which IS old; 1993 IMO is not old.
Are you sure you tightened them properly? How about posting a picture?
Valve housings for tub & shower should last for years; only the guts need be replaced. Are they 1/4 turn ceramic? or compression washers? Maybe a neighbor knows the brand.
cheers Bob
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BCC wrote:

Are you tightening the screw that secures the handle (it may be hidden under a cover) or are you just turning the handles off a little tighter?
Even a cheap brand only 12 years old should not have this problem with all of the handles. One or two maybe but not all.
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BCC wrote: .

Do you mean the connection of the handle to the valve stem, or the stem within the valve body? Two distinctly different problems... the first could have an easy solution using some type of shimming.
The second, well, for being 12 years old, just shouldn't happen to a fixture of any quality at all. A good plumber (or handyman, maybe) can rebuild a shower valve (or most of them, anyway), provided there are parts available. I just had one rebuilt after about 60 years of use. No wobbly valve stems, though!
In other words, more info needed.
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Thanks for the replys, sounds like more info is needed.
Sorry for the laymans terms for this stuff, but Ill try to describe it as best I can.
So the handle screws onto a stem, and it is the stem itself that rotates to control the flow of water and appears to be the problem. I of course first tried to see if just the handles were loose on the stems by tightening the screw that attaches the handle to the stem, but no luck.
I then removed several handles and wiggled the stems themselves, finding that they were indeed very loose- i.e. it wouldnt matter how tight the handle was on, these things are gonna more around. They are loose laterally by the way.
The stems are made of plastic, as is most of the assembly I can see. It is pretty bizzare, from what you guys say these things should last a bit longer than 12 years, but out of 8 handles of the identical make, all 8 are very lose and wobbly.
Let me know if more info is required!
Cheers, Bryan
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You need to remove the stems and take them to a plumbing supply or home center. They should be able to supply you with replacement parts. BTW, did you try tightening the packing nut? Sounds like you have el cheapo faucets, but to replace the entire shower/sub faucets without access is likely the last resort.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

That's what I'd try, but I really doubt you're going to find parts for cheapo plumbing fixtures. A supply house isn't going to carry parts for low-cost imported stuff, and the home centers will carry the entire units, but probably not subassemblies. It'd be a shame to have to tear up a shower stall to replace a fixture, when it should be readily serviceable from the front.
I hope you have better luck than I expect.
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In alt.home.repair on 14 Mar 2005 10:07:31 -0800 snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net posted:

And I think one can add more packing also. They have, I think, teflon string, about an eighth inch in diameter. Go once or twice or three times around. Just a little more actually. Let it overlap a bit.

I agree. I can barely imagine something so cheap that it couldn't be made ok from the front of the wall.
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