There aren’t many remodeling projects that work comfortably in both traditional and contemporary interiors. It’s hard to think of any bath fixtures that could do this. The same is true of most furniture, wallpaper, light fixtures, cabinets and even appliances. So, when you find something like a farmhouse apron sink that can look good in just about any kitchen, it’s worth taking a closer look.
These fixtures are firmly rooted in the past because they echo designs from decades ago. But they also have contemporary grace notes due to their simple, unadorned designs, and are very popular with today’s kitchen designers.
Farmhouse sinks are made with both single and double bowls.
Though most farmhouse sinks have single bowls, double bowls are also widely available. Some buyers don’t want to make the change to single bowl models because they are used to how these sinks work. Others just prefer the look of a double bowl sink. Although both types function differently, the installation of both is basically the same.
Although you can find farmhouse units that drop in over your countertop, the under-mount approach is more common. This means that if you have laminate counters, you should pick one of the drop-in models that can cover the cut edges of your sink cutout hole. These sinks look like under-mount models because they have the same front aprons. They do not, however, have one of the great features of a typical farmhouse sink—the ability to wipe counter debris directly into the sink without hitting a sink lip. If you plan to install new counters, then the under-mount approach is preferred.
Sink Cabinet Retrofits
Fortunately, these sinks are designed to work in existing sink cabinets. They do require modifications, but none are very difficult. The first step is to remove the existing sink, then make a sink access-notch in the face frame just above the doors. Although this panel can sometimes look like a drawer, it is a false front. A drawer couldn’t work because the sink occupies the space that a drawer would require. Occasionally these panels operate, when they are hinged to tip down, so sponges can be stored in a small tray behind the panel. However, this feature is eliminated when the new sink is installed.
To remove an existing sink, first cut the old caulk around the perimeter of the sink with a sharp utility knife. Then carefully pry up the sink using a pry bar. Put a rag under the prying end of the bar to prevent damage to the counter. Once the sink seal is broken, lift the sink up and out of the opening.
Most sink cabinets are 36 inches wide, but some are 30 inches wide. Farmhouse sinks are available in both sizes, so pick out a model that will fit your cabinet. Next, take out the template that comes with the sink and read the directions about how to use it. The template will explain how to support the sink and how to cut the counter next to it, if required.
For under-mount installations, the sink should be supported from below. (When full of water, these sinks can become very heavy.) This means using a drill to screw 2×4 support cleats to both cabinets walls and the back of the cabinet, too, if it leaves enough room for the plumbing connections. The template will explain exactly where these cleats should be located to support the sink you have. Make sure to use screws that go only through the cleat and the side of the cabinet. Don’t use screws that are so long that they would interfere with the operation of a drawer in a nearby cabinet.
The template also explains the location and the size of cuts required in the face frame. To make these cuts, you’ll need a variable jig saw. In most cases, there should be enough room to make the cuts without interfering with the doors underneath. But if this happens to you, you’ll have to install new, shorter doors and add a filler block between the new doors and the bottom of the new sink. Use blue painter’s tape to cover up the cabinet face where the notch cuts fall. This will reduce the splintering from the cut and protect the surface from scratches caused by a rough saw foot. When working with a jig saw, be sure to wear protective eye gear and work gloves.
Placing the Sink
Before sliding the sink into place, run a bead of silicone caulk around the face frame cutout and along the top of the support cleats. Get some help to lift the sink and lower it into place from above. Locate the sink so the apron sticks out about a half-inch from the front of the cabinet. Next, push the sink against the cabinet and wipe away any caulk squeeze-out from around the sink. Lastly, add some silicone caulk to the top edges of the sink, then install the countertops over the sink. Again, be sure to wipe away any squeeze-out.
Because these sinks have big, deep bowls, they frequently have single drain openings. However, the sinks they replace are almost always double-bowl units with two drain openings. This means that the waste plumbing components need altering. If you’re not comfortable working with plumbing, or run into any questions as you’re working, call a licensed plumber.
The first step is to install a drain assembly in the drain hole, according to the directions that come with this hardware. This assembly must be connected to the sink trap that’s already in place. How this is done is dependent on the existing conditions, but most often, you first install a disposer unit to the bottom of the drain assembly. Next, remove the trap from the existing system, then install it on the pipe coming out of the disposer’s side. Finish up by positioning the trap so the drain side is facing toward the waste pipe in the wall. To make this work, the extension pipe from the trap to the drain pipe in the wall needs to be cut to size.
If your new sink has two drain holes, one should be devoted to a food waste disposer and the other to draining away waste water. Typically, the two are joined above the trap, then the trap is joined to the waste pipe opening in the wall. If the sink has a single opening, install the disposer between the drain fitting and the trap. Adjust the length of the extension tube to reach the wall.
The water supply lines usually need alterations too, because typically when a sink is replaced, the faucet is replaced, too. To do this, first install the faucet (and typically a spray hose on a kitchen sink), then measure the distance from the bottom of the faucet to the water supply valves and install new supply tubes from these valves to the hot and cold sides of the faucet.
Finally, test for leaks, and adjust the plumbing where needed. If no leaks appear, you’re done!
Steve Willson began his career as a carpentry contractor in Rochester, New York, where he owned and operated his own business. He then joined Popular Mechanics magazine as their Home Improvement Editor, a position he held for 22 years. He is the author of three books and has edited or rewritten 11 books on various home improvement and tool-use topics. He also writes for the Home Depot, which carries a wide selection of tools that make installing a new sink much easier.
How to Install a Farmhouse Apron Sink was last modified: Last Updated: 12/17/2019 by Steve Willson
The most difficult and costly step of most bathroom renovations is removing the old bathtub. There’s simply no way to quickly, neatly or quietly bust apart and haul away a bathtub, especially if it’s a tub/shower combo. Also, extracting a tub usually means prying off wall tiles from around the perimeter of the tub, creating additional work and repairs.
Bathtub liner gives an old tub a brand new look.
Thankfully, in most cases you can update your bathroom without removing the tub. How? By hiring a professional to install a tub liner. A tub liner is a custom-made, one-piece acrylic liner that fits directly over the existing bathtub and connects to the shower walls. The installation typically takes less than two days and is completed without disturbing the surrounding walls or floors.
Note that there are certain instances when a tub liner isn’t recommended. For example, if the existing tub is badly cracked or rusted through, or there’s extensive water damage to the floor frame below, it’s best to remove the old tub completely and replace it.
Considering a Tub Liner
An acrylic liner is an ideal solution for tubs that are permanently stained and impossible to clean, spotted with rust, badly scratched or chipped. It’s also a viable option if your tub happens to be harvest gold or avocado green but you’d prefer it to be bright white.
Acrylic tub liners are available at most home improvement stores, and the overall cost includes an in-home consultation with a design consultant. The consultant will inspect the existing tub and then help you choose from the hundreds of options available, including a broad range of tub liner colors and styles.
Once you’ve chosen your new liner, trained technicians will come out to your home to take measurements to ensure that it will fit precisely over the bathtub. It’s important that the liner fit snugly to prevent water from seeping between the tub and liner.
During installation, tub liner specialist seals the new liner to the wall.
After placing the order, it typically takes two to four weeks for the new liner to arrive. At that point, a licensed and insured contractor will install the liner. Here are the basic steps involved:
All hardware that will interfere with the installation is removed, including the overflow plate, drain and spout.
The surface of the old tub is scrubbed clean, usually with denatured alcohol, not noxious chemicals.
The new liner is adhered to the tub with a combination of two-sided butyl tape and silicone adhesive.
Caulking is applied to all exposed seams to create watertight joints.
The removed hardware is reinstalled.
A professionally installed tub liner typically costs between $700 and $1,000. That isn’t insignificant, but it’s a lot cheaper than removing the tub and installing a new one, which can easily cost three times as much.
Why Not Reglaze?
Reglazing is more affordable option than installing a tub liner, costing only about $500. It consists of having the surface of the old tub chemically stripped and then sprayed with a thick coat of epoxy or urethane, which takes 18 to 36 hours to cure. While the immediate results are pretty impressive, reglazing has a tendency to yellow, crack and fail over time, especially if the tub’s surface wasn’t meticulously prepared.
The advantage of tub liners is that they won’t ever crack, peel, chip, rust or collect mildew. In fact, tub liners are often installed over previously reglazed tubs because homeowners weren’t happy with the durability of the reglazed surface. Plus, once the acrylic liner is installed, you can take a bath on the very same day.
Home improvement expert Joe Truini is the author of multiple do-it-yourself books and writes on home improvement and DIY for The Home Depot. Joe has many years of hands-on construction carpentry experience. For more research information on tub liners and bathroom remodeling, visit the Home Depot website here.
Tub Liner Is a Quick Makeover for an Ugly Bathtub was last modified: Last Updated: 02/24/2017 by Joe Truini
Everything You Need to Know About Submersible Water Pumps
In some areas, such as dry or mountainous landscapes, well water can be incredibly deep, making it difficult for residents of these areas to access clean drinking water. While most surface pumps are restricted to well depths of 25 feet, and sophisticated jet pump designs reach only about 120 feet, the submersible pump allows wells to be drilled 400 feet deep to find good water. The submersible pump can deliver this water to the surface almost as easily as turning on a faucet at the kitchen sink.
Submersible water pumps, like this 1-HP model, are designed to fit inside a steel well casing and be lowered into the water at the bottom of the well.
How Submersible Pumps Work
The submersible water pump is an outgrowth of well-pumps invented for the oil business around 1920. While the design is still used for pumping oil, the stainless-steel version designed for water wells wasn’t refined until the mid-1960s. But what a refinement it was. It immediately made potable water affordably available to many parts of this country where shallow wells weren’t very successful.
These pumps are cylinder-shaped and are about the size of a baseball bat. Once a water well is drilled, the pump is attached to a plastic water pipe and lowered into the well casing until it hits water. With the pump located at the bottom instead of the top, water can be pushed up many hundreds of feet. (Suction pumping relies on atmospheric air pressure to force well water into the water pipe and up through the pump. At ground level, the pressure is only strong enough to lift water about 25 feet.)
Well pressure/storage tanks are installed on the surface, usually in a basement. They are designed to hold the water pumped from the well for use in the home.
Once inside the house, the well tubing fills a pressure tank that is regulated by a pressure switch. This pressure switch is mounted on the well pipe where it enters the tank. When water is used in the house, the pressure inside the tank decreases, which causes the pressure switch to call for more water from the pump. It starts pumping and fills the tank until the preset maximum pressure is achieved. Then it shuts off until the pressure goes down again, and the cycle repeats.
Early Signs of Failure
Fortunately, there’s a lot of good news about submersible pumps. They’re long-lived (often 20 to 25 years), trouble-free (most pumps are seen only twice in their lives, once when they are lowered into the well and once when they are taken out for replacement), they are pretty efficient (so they have a low impact on an electric bill), and they’re quiet (both because they are usually well designed and built, and because they are working several hundred feet underground).
Unfortunately, this good news comes with a little bad news. When the pump stops, everything that uses water stops, from drinking to cooking to laundry to bathing to dishwashing. Because so much of life involves water, a house is almost uninhabitable without it. It’s essential to know the early warning signs of pump failure.
The pressure switch, located on the well pipe where it enters the storage tank, senses changes in water pressure inside the tank. When water has left the tank, the pressure is lowered and the switch turns the pump on to replace the water.
The clearest sign of possible pump failure is, of course, when you turn on a faucet and no water comes out. This could certainly signal other issues, but the problem may be with the pump. If this happens, first make sure that the circuit breaker that protects the pump is on. If not, turn it on and see if the water works. If the breaker is on, trouble could come from the pressure switch on the storage tank. This should be checked out by a professional.
Abrupt pump failures are not as common as problems with the well itself. In drought conditions, especially in late summer, the water table in your area may be especially low. Check for this by not using water for several hours, then turning the water on and seeing if it works properly. If it does, the well just needed some time to replenish itself. The water table should come up again in the fall and winter, but may go down again. One common way to combat this is for a well-driller to lower the pump farther into the well, where the reserves may be deeper.
If the water from the well starts to look cloudy or slightly muddy, this means that sediment is in the well where the water is drawn. This can happen for a number of reasons. But pumping this water for even a few weeks can cause heavy pump damage, because the grit is very corrosive. This can be fixed by lowering the pump deeper into the well. If you can’t clear the sediment by lowering the pump, usually a new well must be drilled.
Sputtering or spitting water from a faucet could signify a failing pump—either due to a broken check valve (valves that are mounted on the pump that keep the water in the well pipe from draining out once the pumping stops) or cracked water pipes. These can only be identified once the well is pulled. Another good indicator of a failing pump is an electric bill that is increasing dramatically for no apparent reason. A pump that runs all the time can be failing, as can the pressure switch on the storage tank.
Maintenance and Repair of Submersible Pumps
There’s not much maintenance that the average homeowner can perform on a submersible pump. Any problems that do occur, happen down in the well. But there is one important maintenance job a homeowner can do: Schedule a well-system inspection (pump, pipe, fittings, tank, pressure switch) every year or two. This might cost around $200 but should keep everything running smoothly between service sessions.
It may be great that these pumps are out of sight for so long and therefore not something you worry about all the time. But when they have problems, most of the trouble is out of sight too, at the bottom of the well. And dealing with these problems almost always requires “pulling the well,” which means pulling up and out all the water pipe (that runs from the pump to the surface), and the pump that’s attached to the bottom end of this pipe.
Depending on how deep the well is, this can be a lot of weight. Can inveterate do-it-yourselfers do this job? Yes. But everyone else should call in a well-driller or a plumber who specializes in pulling wells. These people have the equipment that makes this job much easier and safer. And just as important, they have the expertise to diagnose the problems that are at hand. As for repairs to the pressure switch, while they are not complicated, they are also not especially intuitive. Adjusting (or replacing) a pressure switch is best left to a professional.
Repairs can be expensive depending on the problems that are found. If the pump is dead, replacing it can cost many hundreds of dollars. A large pump for a 3 1/2-bathroom house can be $1000. When you add in the cost of new plastic pipe, fittings and well seal (+/- $700), and typical labor (+/- $700), the charge can be up around $2,400.00. This is a big hit to most budgets. But as big a problem as this cost can be, the inconvenience can be much worse. Know the signs of a failing pump to stay ahead of problems before they start.
Steve Willson owned and operated his own carpentry contracting business in Rochester, New York before joining Popular Mechanics magazine, where he was their home improvement editor for 22 years. Steve is the author of three books and has edited or rewritten 11 books on various home improvement, plumbing and tool-use topics. He is also a writer for the Home Depot, who carries a wide selection of the kinds of submersible water pumps Steve talks about in this article.
Everything You Need to Know About Submersible Water Pumps was last modified: Last Updated: 01/25/2017 by Steve Willson
If your toilet won’t flush, shower backs up, or sink won’t drain, the problem is likely a clogged drain. In this troubleshooting article, we’ll show you how to figure out where the clog or problem is located and give you expert advice on how to clear it.
Understanding a typical house’s drain system is an important first step in figuring out where a drain clog is occurring. Both in the illustrations below and in the article, How Drain-Waste-Vent (DWV) Systems Work, we detail how drains carry waste water and sewage from the toilets, bathtubs, and other plumbing fixtures to the sewer or septic system.
The illustration below is a cross-section of the drain-waste-vent system in a two-story house with a basement. Here you can see the dark drain and vent pipes that serve the various plumbing fixtures. Please note: The blue vent pipes carry sewer gasses up to the top of the roof; the drain pipes carry waste and sewage down to the sewer or septic system.
Logic is the key to locating a clog. In most cases, the clog is located in the trap or pipe leading away from the “last” non-working fixture. (“Last” refers to fixtures down-slope.)
These illustrations will give you the background you need for putting your logic skills to work. After checking out these illustrations, take your own home’s fixture layout into account, and adapt these principles to understand the connections of the drains and vents behind the walls and under the floors. If you’re able to go into your basement, doing so may give you a clearer idea of your home’s plumbing layout.
Begin by determining which drains do or don’t work, and then combine this knowledge with the illustrations shown here to solve the clog’s location. Logic generally will reveal the approximate location of the blockage.
Clog in the Sewer Pipe
If waste and sewage are erupting from the lowest drain in the house, such as a basement floor drain or laundry sink, it only makes sense that the blockage is beyond that point—in the sewer pipe that runs through your yard, for example. Every time you flush a toilet or take a shower, water flows down the drains, hits the clog, and backs up to its nearest point of escape.
A broken or clogged yard sewer pipe is a typical problem. The cause is often tree roots growing into the sewer pipe or an aging pipe that is disintegrating underground (in both cases, sewage will usually pool on the ground’s surface near the problem).
You’ll usually need a sewer pipe rooter service to deal with clearing sewer pipes in the yard. Some of these services will also repair the pipes; otherwise, you’ll need a local plumbing pro.
This kind of backup can also occur in a home with a septic tank when the tank is full and needs to be pumped. If your home’s septic tank hasn’t been pumped out in a couple of years, call a Local Septic Tank Pumping Service.
Shockfactor.de / Shutterstock.com
The first place to expect a drain clog is at the bottom of the fixture’s trap.
If the bathroom sink doesn’t drain, but the shower, tub, and toilet do drain as they should, the clog is somewhere between the sink drain and the branch pipe it’s connected to. More often than not, it’s in the sink trap. For information on fixing this, see Sink & Drain Clogs & Repairs.
If the toilet doesn’t flush down the drain, but the bathroom sink, tub, and/or shower drain properly (as shown in the drawing below), the clog usually belongs solely to the toilet.
In most case, it’s located in the base of the toilet or in the main pipe that the toilet connects to. For information on dealing with toilet flush problems, please see Toilet Flushes Poorly.
Location of a Toilet Clog
How to Diagnose & Clear a Drain Clog was last modified: Last Updated: 02/29/2016 by admin
A home’s plumbing system consists of a complex system of pipes and fixtures that—hopefully—work together to provide clean water, safe disposal of wastes, and more. Because a plumbing system involves home and public safety, its design is strictly regulated by building codes, and plumbers are regulated, licensed, and credentialed to ensure proper workmanship.
Kurhan / Shutterstock.com
Find the right plumber for the job by following these important tips.
This doesn’t mean you can’t do you own plumbing. In fact, here at HomeTips, you’ll find step-by-step instruction for many DIY plumbing jobs. But know-how, plumbing skills, and the proper tools are critical to a plumbing project’s success. If you don’t have the right tools for the job or the time, fortitude, and experience to correctly do the job yourself, hire a plumber.
But don’t hire just any plumber—hire the right plumber—a plumber who will do the job safely, correctly, and relatively affordably so the project doesn’t become an expensive disaster. Once you find The Right plumber, keep his number handy—it will be worth it’s weight in gold the next time you encounter an urgent plumbing problem in your home.
When hiring a plumber, your job is to find the right one and oversee the quality of workmanship.
Here’s what you should know:
What Makes a Good Plumber?
A good plumber needs to have several things. When interviewing potential plumbers, find out whether he or she has the following:
License. Most states (44 of them) require working plumbers to be licensed. In addition to a license, a good plumber should have a clean complaint record. Find out whether any formal complaints have been filed against them or their company. You can visit your state’s government website to see whether it offers the ability to check for active licenses and complaints—or discover whether they have a phone number you can call. Angie’s List also offers a License Check tool at this url: http://www.angieslist.com/articles/angies-list-license-check.htm
The Better Business Bureau is another source to check regarding complaints.
Insurance. Though you may have homeowner’s insurance that offers some level of protection, your plumber should have workman’s compensation and at least $500,000 of liability insurance to protect both you and the plumber in the event he, she, or a worker is injured on the job at your home.
Experience. Find out how long the plumber’s business has been in operation, and how many years of experience the person who will be doing the work has. It takes several years for most good plumbers to acquire their knowledge and skills. For more about skills, see Types of Plumbers, below.
References. Ask a potential plumber for references of people for whom he or she has done work. Then call those customers to find out if they were happy with the work or had complaints.
Warranty. Only work with a plumber who will guarantee his or her work and the parts for at least a year.
Social Skills. This one is a little tricky, but important to consider. It helps to have a plumber who can communicate clearly with you, is trustworthy, and has good work habits, such as maintaining a clean work environment, protecting your home’s floors, showing up on time, and so forth.
How to Find a Good Plumber
You can find a plumber from personal referrals, online services, the Yellow Pages, or from newspaper ads and the like. Some of these sources are vastly better than others.
Personal Referrals. Nothing beats a personal referral when you’re shopping for a plumber. If you know someone who has had plumbing work done recently and was happy with the plumber who did the work, ask for that plumber’s contact information. Other people to ask include remodeling contractors and real estate agents.
Online Referral Services. Online referrals have become a really big business in recent years. Sites such as Home Advisor, Angie’s List, Networx, and many more provide free access to their network of plumbers, contractors, and other service professionals. These sites either use crowd-sourced reviews or in-house vetting to qualify their listed professionals. You plug in your zip code and a few details about your job, and your phone begins to ring with calls from pros, in most cases. For several years, Home Advisor has been HomeTips’ preferred online service.
Print Ads. Whether in the Yellow Pages or your local newspaper, print ads generally are not a reliable measure of good plumbers or contractors. Though companies with big advertising budgets may be large companies, that isn’t always true, or necessarily a plus. And companies with big ad budgets have to build those costs into their bids. Most really great trades people don’t have to advertise at all—their reputations spread by word-of-mouth, and they stay very busy.
Types of Plumbers
When searching for a plumber, you’ll encounter two main types—plumbing contractors who specialize in installing all of the plumbing for a home-building or remodeling project, and plumbers who focus on repairing existing plumbing systems.
The competency of a plumber is designated by one of three credentials: apprentice, journeyman, or master plumber.
Here is how these trade credentials differ:
An apprentice plumber is training with a union or nonunion contractor organization. Training consists of both classroom instruction and paid hands-on work. The apprentice is typically the “go-for” who works alongside a journeyman or master plumber.
Journeyman plumbers have fulfilled the requirements of apprenticeship and obtained a state journeyman license. A journeyman plumber can do most kinds of plumbing work, but most don’t operate their own business.
A master plumber, the most qualified, must have worked several years as a journeyman, usually has an associate’s degree from a vocational school, and must pass written and hands-on exams. In most states, master plumbers are required to complete several hours of continuing education each year. Master plumbers are qualified to run their own businesses in addition to handling all types of plumbing jobs.
Trade Secrets for Hiring the Right Plumber was last modified: Last Updated: 02/29/2016 by admin
When water constantly drools from the shower head, the problem is caused by the shower valve.
A leaky shower faucet or shower head can be both irritating and expensive. Beyond the annoying drip, drip, drip, a leaky shower faucet (valve) can waste hundreds of gallons of water every week. And worse, a leak on the hot water side of the shower valve can waste significant energy because the water heater must continually operate to warm the water being drawn unnecessarily.
One reader whose home was equipped with an electric water heater complained that his leaking shower valve caused his electric bill to triple.
Even more concerning is the shower valve that leaks inside the wall. Over time, water dribbling into the wall can cause dry rot, mold, and structural problems that can be both hazardous and very expensive to repair.
What Causes a Leaky Shower Faucet or Shower Head Drip?
When water drips or drizzles from a shower head, there is a problem with the shower faucet (valve). In most cases, inner seals are worn, or parts have become corroded or clogged with hard water deposits. And the rubber O-rings and gaskets that seal connections between moving metal parts wear down with time and use. When they do, water squirts or drips out. For more, please see How a Shower Works.
Advice for Fixing Leaky Shower Faucets
If you turn off a shower faucet and the water keeps dribbling out of the shower head, a natural instinct is to crank the handle closed as hard as you can. Unfortunately, this may only make things worse. Be sure the faucet handle is turned all of the way off, but don’t over-tighten it! This may damage the valve.
When working on shower faucets, place rags in the tub or shower floor beneath the faucets and over the drain to protect the surfaces and prevent small parts from being dropped down the drain. Before opening up a shower valve, turn off the water supply. In some houses, a shut-off valve is located in the bathroom, near the shower, or in the basement. If you can’t find the shower shut-off valves, turn off the water supply to the entire house. For more about this, see How to Shut Off the Water Supply.
If you have to shut off the water to the entire house, plan and organize ahead of time. Read through all of the instructions and have the tools and materials that you’ll need readily on hand to minimize the time your home’s water will be off—and alert your family. After shutting off the house water, faucets and water-using appliances won’t work but each toilet will have one flush.
After you’ve turned off the water supply, open the bathroom sink faucet to drain any water from the nearby pipes.
There are many types of shower faucet valves. The methods for fixing the leak will depend upon the type of shower valve. In the articles listed below, you will find step-by-step instructions for fixing the major brands of shower faucets.
How to Fix a Leaky Two-Handle Shower Faucet
A shower valve that’s operated by two faucet handles—one hot and one cold—is typically a compression faucet, as discussed in the article How a Compression Faucet Works. Leaks in a compression faucet generally occur when a rubber seal or washer wears out over time, allowing water to seep between movable metal parts.
Fixing a compression shower faucet involves disassembling the unit and replacing the defective washers and seals. It’s important to shut off the water supply to the shower, and to protect the surface of the tub or shower floor and cover the drain. Buy a faucet washer kit so you’ll have the necessary replacement O-rings and washers on hand. Browse faucet washer kits at Amazon.
First, feel the water leaking from the tub spout or shower head. If it’s warm, you know that the leak is coming from the hot-water valve. If the water has been dripping for a while and it is cold, the leak is probably coming from the cold-water valve.
1 Start by removing the faucet handle. Methods for doing this will depend upon the faucet’s design. Older or simply-designed faucets often have an exposed screw front and center or a locking screw in the side. Newer and more decorative models of faucets hide the screw beneath a cover cap. With these, you need to pry off the cover cap to expose the screw. If your faucet handle is the type with a cover cap and there is no obvious method of removal, use a very thin screwdriver or pocketknife to pry the cap off. Be careful not to scratch the finish or damage the material.
2 Once you’ve removed the cover cap, use a screwdriver to unscrew the locking screw, turning it counterclockwise. Remove it and set it aside. Then wiggle and pull on the handle to extract it from the faucet body. This can be difficult to do. You can buy a faucet puller, or improvise with a screwdriver as shown in the video below. Find faucet pullers on Amazon.
3 After removing the handle, remove the trim and the sleeve that fits over the faucet stem. You’ll need a plumber’s deep socket, as shown in the video, to extract the faucet stem from the valve body (you can find an inexpensive set online). Fit it over the stem’s hex nut and turn it counterclockwise to unscrew the assembly. At first, you may need to apply significant force to break it free. Unscrew the faucet stem and pull it out of the valve body.
4Replace all faucet washers, O-rings, seals, and the flat washer at the end of the stem (remove the screw to replaced the washer).
5 Then reverse the procedures to replace the faucet stem in the valve body. Before you put it in, lubricate the threads with plumber’s grease. Tighten it in the valve body. Temporarily put the handle back on, turn on the water supply, and test the valve. Then finish reassembly. Finally, seal the trim to the wall with tub caulk. Shop for tub caulk online.
How to Fix a Leaky Delta Shower Faucet
If your shower has a leaky Delta shower faucet, here is how to stop the leak. Before beginning, please read the information titled “Advice for Fixing Leaky Shower Faucets” above. Shut off the water supply to the shower and protect the surface of the tub or shower floor. Also cover the drain so you don’t accidentally drop small parts down it. Buy a Delta replacement cartridge on Amazon so you’ll have the necessary replacement on hand. Here’s a video that shows this process:
1 Remove the cover cap that hides the screw holding the handle, and then unscrew the handle and pull it off.
2 Remove the two screws that hold escutcheon trim plate in place, and then pull the escutcheon plate away from the wall, exposing the hole in the wall around the valve.
3 Slide off the outside sleeve (sometimes called a “stop tube”) by gripping it and pulling it outward. Then remove the brass bonnet with a pair of locking jaw pliers, turning it counterclockwise.
4 Remove the old cartridge by pulling off the plastic cap, and then gripping and wiggling the cartridge until it’s loose enough to pull off. Feel inside the valve area for any deposits or loose particles, and clean with a rag.
5 Then insert the new cartridge. Note that one side of the cartridge is marked “Hot” and should be positioned on the hot water (normally left) side. Push it firmly in place. If necessary, adjust the rotational limit stop, according to the manufacturer’s directions that come with the replacement cartridge.
6 Put the brass bonnet back on the valve and turn it clockwise to tighten it. Be sure the threads grip properly. Hand-tighten, and then use locking jaw pliers to snug it down. Clean the wall where the escutcheon plate goes, and then put the outer sleeve back on the cartridge and push it into place. Replace the escutcheon plate and handle.
7Turn the water supply back on and, if everything works fine, caulk the perimeter of the escutcheon plate with tub caulk to seal it to the wall.
How to Fix a Leaky Price Pfister Shower Faucet
As when working on other types of shower valves, start by shutting off the water supply and protecting the tub and drain with rags. Ideally, your shower plumbing will have a local water supply valve that you can shut off (similar to the valve under a sink) that is accessible through a removable panel. In most cases, there isn’t one of these, so you’ll need to shut off the main valve for the entire house.
Open a nearby faucet to empty the shower pipes. Before beginning, please read the information titled “Advice for Fixing Leaky Shower Faucets” above. If your defective shower valve is made by Price Pfister, you’ll be happy to know that they stand behind their products with a strong warranty. If you can prove that you bought their valve after 1997, they will send you free parts. It’s definitely worth a call to their 800 number at 1-800-732-8238. You can also buy a replacement valve on Amazon.
1 Pry the decorative button off of the end of the shower stem to expose the screw that secures the handle assembly. Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the screw, turning it counterclockwise. Then remove the handle assembly.
2 Next, unscrew the threaded sleeve, turning it counterclockwise, and remove it from the escutcheon trim plate. If the escutcheon trim is caulked to the wall, use a sharp knife to cut the seal. Be careful not to scratch the surfaces. Remove the plate from the wall.
3 To remove the cartridge, unscrew the four screws that hold the dogged-eared mounting flange. Again, turn them counterclockwise to remove them. Reach in and pull the plastic cartridge out of the valve. Be sure the rubber O-rings come out with the cartridge.
4 Use a rag and, if necessary, steel wool to clean the inner surfaces of the valve. Then replace the old plastic cartridge with a new one, and replace the threaded piece and the flange.
5 Be sure the rubber gasket will seal properly. Position it so the orientation is properly aligned. Use the metal ring and four screws to secure it. When it’s tight, turn the water supply back on and check for leaks. If you don’t discover any leaks, caulk around the perimeter of the trim and then replace the escutcheon trim and the handle. Here is a really helpful video that shows this process.
How to Fix a Leaky Moen Shower Faucet
Before beginning a shower valve replacement, read the information titled “Advice for Fixing Leaky Shower Faucets” above. Shut off the water supply to the shower and protect the surface of the tub or shower floor. Also cover the drain to prevent accidentally dropping small parts down it. Buy a Moen replacement cartridge on Amazon and have it on hand.
1 Pry off the plastic cover at the top of the control valve, and then remove the screw at the center of the knob, using a Phillips screwdriver. Unscrew the two screws that secure the escutcheon plate and pull the plate off of the wall. Gently pry it with a flat-bladed screwdriver if necessary. Be careful not to scratch the finish.
2 Pull the stop tube straight out, sliding it off of the cartridge. Using a pair of pliers, pull the U-shaped cartridge retainer clip off of the valve body. Slide the small spacer washer off of the shaft and set it aside with the retainer clip.
3 A white plastic nut-like tool should be packaged with the new cartridge. Slip this plastic nut tool over the shaft so it interlocks with the cartridge. Then turn it back and forth with pliers to release the cartridge from the valve body. Remove the nut, and then use pliers to grip the stem of the cartridge and pull it straight out of the valve body.
4 Push the new replacement cartridge straight into the valve body until it seats. Slip the plastic nut tool onto the cartridge and orient the cartridge so that its ears are at the top and bottom of the valve body. Slide the U-shaped retainer clip back into the valve body until it snaps into place. If the retainer clip doesn’t snap into place properly, the cartridge is not seated correctly in the valve body—readjust it with the plastic nut tool.
5 Now turn the water supply back on. Temporarily mount the faucet knob on the shaft. Holding a bucket under the shower head, turn on the hot water to make sure the hot water works. If the water doesn’t get hot, you’ll need to readjust the cartridge with the plastic nut tool and check again until you get hot water.
6 Put the small spacer washer back onto the shaft. Slide the stop tube back onto the valve body. Replace the escutcheon plate and secure it with its two screws, turning them clockwise until snug. Put the plastic knob back on, screw it in place, and secure the cover plate over the screw.
This helpful video will guide you through this process from start to finish:
HomeTips’s founder, Don Vandervort, has been featured as a DIY expert on HGTV, MSN.com, and US News & World Report. He has also authored, edited, or produced more than 30 books in the home improvement space. Read more…
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