Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fixing the leaky shower faucet (sort of)

I've been putting off this plumbing repair for long enough. Yesterday I finally decided I needed to just swallow hard and see what I could do. The cold water faucet on the shower in my bathroom was dripping. It wasn't bad, and I could get it to stop eventually; but I could also tell that the rubber washer was probably all but gone and it needed replaced. So... I watched this youtube video of a guy repairing his. It helped, and at least I didn't cut myself and bleed all over like he did in the video (it's almost worth watching just for that).

My biggest fear with this project was actually turning off the main water supply. This house doesn't have any other shut-off valves, and given the location of the main (coming up through the middle of the floor in the laundry room), I really didn't want it to leak. So before I shut the water off I took a shower, went to the restroom, filled a jug with drinking water, and opened the phonebook to the plumbing section (in case I needed to call a plumber). I wrapped a towel around underneath the valve, and was super happy when I finally turned off the main valve and had no leak or problem whatsoever.

So I finally got to it. I had a screwdriver, adjustable plyers, 3/4" & 1" wrench, and a towel. I covered the drain (so I wouldn't drop anything down it), took the screw out of the handle and pulled it off, as well as the decorative casing. Then I pulled out the guts and it looked pretty much just like the guy's in the video. Sure enough, the rubber washer was almost completely gone on the end of it. So I wrapped it in a paper towel and headed down to the hardware store in Waynedale.

I didn't even realize until I was walking in the store that I still had my slippers on. Since it was Waynedale I don't think anyone even noticed. I found the faucet section, stood there for a moment, and a guy came right up to help. He took the part, sorted through some drawers, and put a new washer on the end of the stem. He also gave me another for the other faucet and said I might as well do both of them while the water was off. Then he gave me some silicone grease and some string stuff to seal it tighter when I put it back together. Altogether it was $9.16.

So I came home, greased up the stem, put it all back together, and tried to do the hot water faucet. This is where I ran into problems. I couldn't even get the handle off! I took the screw out and tugged and pulled and tugged some more. I even stuck a screwdriver inside and pried like the guy in the video... but nothing would work. So I shot some WD40 inside the handle and waited awhile. Still nothing. So I just left the screw out and went ahead and checked the other side for leaks. I figure maybe someday it will work itself loose.

I turned the water back on - and again was happy there were no leaks at the main valve - and tested out the cold water faucet. There were no leaks, so I put the decorative casing back on and started cleaning up.

Well, it works okay... but I can't say that it's really any better. I still have to really turn it off hard to get it to quit dripping. At least it's not metal on metal anymore. So... whatever. I'm just glad I didn't break anything. Plumbing scares me.

So that's what happened yesterday. It probably took me a couple hours altogether.