I've had a slow drip for a while from my ancient American Standard
faucet in my bathtub. It has recently turned from a drip into a stream
and since the water is no longer cold but luke warm I suspect the hot
water side has started leaking as well. I'd love to replace it myself
but from investigating online it looks just too complicated. Right now
it has two handles and I'd like to turn it into a single handle. My
question is this: what is the best way to go about installing this,
call a plumber? Or go to a home center, pick out the style we want and
have them install it? As I said, I'd love to repair it myself but I
don't think watching 10 episodes of Ed the Plumber is going to qualify
me to taking on this task.
Hate to burst your bubble, but its probably going to be more than a
plumbing job. How's the access to the back of the tub? Sometimes,
there is an access panel on the wall in the room opposite of the
tub. If you have access, your job got a slight bit easier. Your
major problem is going to be that the existing fixtures are probably
soldered in place. How do you feel about wielding a Mapp torch in
that enclosed area? OK, I think you probably ought to bring in the
professionals about now.
Maybe you don't have access from the back. Now your job just
included wall work as well. Especially if you're set on converting
to a single handle (got to cover up those faucet openings somehow).
If you have a shower head included in that setup, then you've really
opened up a wall of worms. Can't fault you for wishing though.
All is not lost though, have you considered replacing the valve
washers or valve stems? That is at least one thing that you can do
without a plumber coming in. Take off the valve handle, and unscrew
the valve stem nut, then the valve stem. Oh didn't I tell you turn
off the water first? My bad, but its a tub isn't it? Anyway, stick
your little finger (unless you're ham handed) into the valve and
feel the seat for roughness. If it feels rough, then you will need a
seat resurfacing tool. Now take the stem(s) to your local hardware
store of choice and look for the replacements.
All covered here:
If you're set on converting to a single lever, then you can either
pick out the set you want, describe it, take a picture, or find it
online and show it to the plumber. Ask him if he'll install it for
you or if he has a better idea in mind. Sometimes, they can get you
a better item if you let them pick it for you and they have an idea
of what you want.
Hey, good luck chum!
Hope I don't need to say this, but when they say 'shut off the water',
they don't mean the faucet, but the water supply to the faucet, which
may well be the whole house shut-off. If you don't, you're going to
have an interesting experience.
Some seats are replaceable. Look inside the hole and see if there is
a slot in the ccurrent seat (interrupted by the hole through which the
water goes.) A flat screwdriver removes the seat. But like he says,
only if it feels rough.
IIUC the roughness chews up the washer, and I guess makes it harder
for even a new washer to seat. Also iiuc, the seat only gets bad if
one continues to use the faucet after the washer is so far gone that
the metal end of the stem rubs/scrapes on the seat when one struggles
to close it tight enough to stop the dripping. I don't mean that all
such struggling causes metal to metal rubbing. I would think that is
pretty rare and takes a while to do damage.
Now take the stem(s) to your local hardware
I'm going through this right now. I had rebuilt my tub faucet many
times, only to have it start leaking a few days later.
The seats were pitted and I had to call a plumber. He was unable to
do anything with the seats, so he tore off a bunch
of tiles, soldered in a new single-handle faucet and left the rest for
I tore away more ties so I could get to some studs, put in cement
board and laid the tiles last night.
Tonight I'll grout. Then put on the spout, plate and handle and be
done (fingers crossed).
So, everything short of pumbling with solder is a DIY job.
Vin - On-line Vintage Bicycle Price Guide
I don't know what I was thinking. Replaceable seats have a square
hole in the middle and use a tapered square tool to be removed. I"m
sure the tool is not expensive at all.
When I described the slotted part, I might have been thinking about
You can use a flat bladed screwdriver too, but it's doubtful that a standard
screwdriver would give you sufficient leverage to unmount the old seat. But
as for those angle shaped seat wrenches - they're 12 bucks for a dual seat
configuration (square and hex hole seat).
thanks all for the replies. I'm going to go out and buy a reseating
tool. Any tips on how to use one corectly? My father-in-law and
brother-in-law both tried to fix this problem assuming it was a faulty
washer, so we replaced the entire stem since the old one was the
original, but that didn't fix the problem. I'm pretty certain the
problem is the seat although I do remember my father-in-law feeling
the seat with his finger and proclaiming it fine -but what else can it
be? Trying the reseating tool couldn't hurt could it?
To answer some other questions, I do have access to the back of the
piping though a closet behind the tub but the pipes are cemented to
the wall so a full replacement would entail taking out the wall.
Thanks for the update. For the future, you should know that there is a tool
designed to pull off a stuck handle, called surprisingly enough, a "Handle
Puller". A central threaded rod, surrounded by two l-shipped holders. Put
the holders under the handle and the rod in the screw hole in the center of
the faucet stem and twist the threaded rod until the handle comes off.
Changing the valve is going to require ripping open the wall, and replacing
and then putting everything back.
The trouble you describe is probably easily repaired with replacement stems
Turn off the water, remove the handles and unscrew the escutcheons. You
should then be able to use a wench to unscrew the packing nut and then the
stem will screw all the way out (Put the handle back on). Take these stems
to a good hardware store and buy:
2 new stems (1 hot and 1 cold)
2 valve seats
Valve seat wrench (An L shaped rod with a tapering square shaft on one end
and a tapering hex shaft on the other.)
A small tube of plumbers grease.
When you get home, figure out which end of the seat wrench to use by trying
it in the new seats. (The guy at the hardware store can show you this.)
Now insert the seat wrench into the old valve seats and unscrew them, and
replace it with the new seats.
Grease up the new valve stems and reassemble.
This should give you many more years on your shower valve.
To make it look new and pretty, you can optionally purchase new handles and
If you are not part of the solution, you are not dissolved in the solvent.
You don't mention having replaced the washers already. I would guess
you don't even need new stems** or seats, just rubber or neoprene
washers. Two dollars? for a box of 30? of various sizes. Plus the
box includes a few spare screws if you lose or strip the head of the
ones that are there. You can probably also buy the washers one at a
time in the right size, for more money each but maybe less money
total. Most are conical, some are flat. You'll see when you get
inside. No matter how ancient you think your faucet is, these are
still sold, probalby at Home Depot and if not at a hardware store
closer to downtown or a plumbing supply store. In fact they are
probably still used in many new faucets.
After you get the handle and cover plate off, because it is a bathtub
and not a sink, you may well need what is basically a deep socket,
although the ones sold for plumbing,, in large sizes, are not as nice
as the ones sold for auto work. The auto ones are cast, I guess, but
the plumbing ones are like heavy-weight tubes that have been formed
into 6-sides at one end. A whole set is probably under 10 dollars and
somewhere years ago I was able to buy only the size I needed for my
I changed one or both washers once in the 24 years I've been here, but
I live alone so the tub gets used only once a day, almost. :)
I only learned a few things from my uncle, but he pointed out that
when there are two valves, hot and cold, and one spigot, the washers
wear out faster, because when it is dripping, it is not obvious which
valve has to be closed, so people overtighten one side before they go
on to the other side. I think I have pretty much solved that by
remembering how tight I have to turn it, but I'm not promising you
your washers will last 15 years or more like mine.
BTW, I've found the easy way to adjust the temp is to turn on the hot
to the volume of water I want, and then turn on the cold to get the
temp that I want. In the middle of a bath or shower, I adjust the
temp with the cold water only. Even though I have one handle in the
kitchen sink, I don't miss it at all in the bathtub.
**Even when stems are old and turn very very easily, they are still
usually fine at stopping the water from dripping. It's unrelated. In
fact I prefer them when they are loose, especially in the tub where I
can use my toes to adjust the water. I had to get plumbers grease (a
dollar or two for small container of it) to lube my almost new faucets
inside, enough to adjust the temp with my feet, and then after a few
years, they tighted up a bit again. So now I have to use both feet.
I'll lube them again if I ever have to replace the washer again.
If you do have to replace the stems after you've replace the washers,
it will take you a third of the first time, or less. Everything
mechanical goes much faster the second time.
Assuming there's nothing bizarre going on inside your existing faucet, you
could fix the thing nicely for less than $20.00 (parts). If you're missing
certain tools, you might have to add another $20-$30. After you read what
others have said about totally replacing the faucet, you may want to
consider doing this job yourself. It's not that big a deal. The most
important thing to do first is open the yellow pages (phone book - does
anyone have those these days?), and find a real plumbing supply store, or a
real hardware store. In other words, a place you can bring an old part to,
or a couple of clear photographs, and someone says "Here, you need this,
that, and two of these, and do you have a tool that looks like this?"
Not Home Depot. Not Lowe's.
Let us know which way you're leaning (fix, or new), and I'll search through
a long list of digital pics that I should've given sensible names to. I
think I might have some nice shots of disassembled faucet valves. Naked,
If it is anything like my Price Pfister 3 handle faucet, I thought replacing
the seats and valves would be a royal pain in the ass. It wasn't. I had to
buy about 30 bucks in tools, tools I'll probably only use once (if I'm
I will say that replacing the entire unit will be a job of the week and
you'd better start at 5 in the morning on a Saturday and expect to not be
finished until Sunday
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