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Leaky Bathtub Faucet: A Plumber-Free Solution To This Common Bathroom Problem.

It's almost inevitable that a leaking bathtub faucet or handle will happen to a homeowner at some point. Whether you live in a home long enough that the internal mechanisms break down or you buy an older home and they've already gone caput. The former is the situation we'll be walking you through today, and by the end of this, you'll be confident enough in your ability to repair this yourself that you'll save money and feel accomplished in the process!

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This is a home with an unknown build date that was approximated in the 1960's. After purchase, the new owners discovered that the faucet in one of the bathrooms would drip even after the handle had been cranked into the "off" position. It was only a very slow drip at first so they didn't stress it.


Over time, the drip intensified and they also noticed that there was a leak at the handle- especially after the shower had been turned on.


First, they tried replacing the faucet and handle. Because it's usually a pretty straightforward repair and the original manufacturer was unknown, they bought a "universal" kit designed to fit most existing plumbing. Very quickly, they realized their particular plumbing didn't fit in the "universal" category as it was far too outdated.


After using a google search for a solution to their problem, they saw that a malfunctioning washer was most likely the issue. Feeling fairly confident in their DIY skills, they opted to remove the handle themselves and try to replace the washer.


This is where it became more complicated.



Not only are there washers, but there are also springs housed inside the tub and shower cartridge. Their valve stem assembly was also disintegrating. Armed with the old parts, they made their way to every hardware and plumbing store within a 30-mile radius and none of them had what they needed.


Feeling frustrated and a bit defeated, they broke down and contacted a plumber.


Upon the plumber's inspection, he informs them that their current plumbing is galvanized and outdated and that they had two possible solutions:


  1. He can google the parts and try to find replacements, or

  2. Cut out the wall behind the bathtub, cut out the existing plumbing and convert it to CPVC (for future ease of repair) then replace the valve, cartridges, etc with updated hardware. To do this is was going to cost an estimated $300 for labor plus the costs of a new valve (approx. $120), as well as all of the other hardware-- about $550.00.


Trying to save money, they chose option 1. Unfortunately, because there was no way to tell who had made the original parts, he came up empty-handed. They scheduled an appointment for him to return and fix it the hard way.


Remember, this is a post about how to fix it without a plumber so don't be disheartened...


Not too keen on having to rip up a wall and assuming that someone--somewhere-- had to know which company the parts belonged to, the owner had a brainstorm and remembered this cool feature on their phone where they could reverse image search on google.


If you don't know how to do this, it's pretty simple! Open your camera app and snap a picture or go into your gallery and select "Search On Google."


When they did this, within 30 seconds of inspecting pictures for similarities, they were able to discover that their faucet was Price-Pfister. No wonder none of the Delta or American Standard pieces would fit... they had a bit of a "facepalm" moment.


Knowing now that it was Price-Pfister, they were able to go to the internet once again to find replacement parts. As none of the local plumbing stores carried these parts, they took to Amazon. Lo and behold... they found it!




For $80 and two days for shipping, they were able to order the new parts! To install, they thoroughly cleaned and water residue and buildup from the back of the valve with steel wool, inserted the new cartridge, attached the valve stem assembly, and installed the new handle and trim over top.


Nervous (and expecting it to still drip since there way NO WAY it could have been THIS easy to repair) they turned the water supply back on.


To their amazement, the drip was gone!!! No more leaks from the handle or faucet!


Basically, technology and a little bit of basic DIY knowledge and determination saved the day! Sure, a plumber could have ripped everything up and replaced it... but that ultimately proved to be unnecessary and the owners were left with a sense of pride and satisfaction at a job well done.


There are times for sure that a contractor or plumber is necessary, but this story goes to show that not everything that seems too much of a challenge actually is. And the money saved can be spent on something a lot more fun than an old bathroom!


Do you have a project that's above DIY level and need some help? Call us today at 615-642-4477 or visit www.allprocms.com to schedule your free estimate!


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