Monday, May 31, 2010

Bath Tub Faucet Repair

265lbs plus brass faucet equals....snap! Thus begins this repair job. So much for wear and tear.... since brass does not tear, it snaps.  But in the immortal words of the Million Dollar Man's Physician  "Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man" Oh wait a minute, substitute him to it!  And yes we do luckily have the technology I am happy to say.  I was very happy to see that the faucet was manufactured by Moen.  This is fortunate because Moen has replacement parts which can be ordered or in my case, purchased at Home Depot.  Thank the god of all amateur plumbers for this; it saved us an estimated $200.00 in plumbers costs or maybe more.  The main reason I am posting this is to encourage those that that feel they could not do this type of repair to at least attempt it.  While I believe that some repairs should be done by "professionals" this is not one of them. That being said, this type of repair does not always go as expected and one should be prepared to "adapt and overcome".  One should also be careful when using force like I had to do in this case.  Force in some cases equal Oops occurrences; which, do require the professional touch.  I am happy to say that I was careful in applying said force.

To begin with, I broke the faucet by accident when I turned it on to take a shower.  I don't think it was fatigue, but you never know.  Regardless, the handle broke off in my hand where the brass rod comes out of the faucet body.   As I said earlier, the faucet was manufactured by Moen.  Most companies stamp their name on the products and this is where you can start finding information on the model you have.  Moen is a company that I will give an excellent rating when it comes to internet resources.  Their website is easy to navigate and has download-able blow up images showing all parts from their faucets.  I found that the part I needed was an cartridge insert which could be ordered through the site.  For those that have time or are at a distance from a hardware store this is a good way to get the parts you need.  I am fortunate to live near Home Depot and Lowes.  I went to the former and found they did indeed have the part I needed. I had a copy of the faucet parts list with the model number which is obviously needed when finding what you need quickly and accurately.  The part was $39.00 :which, on the surface may seem expensive but is much less than a plumbers bill.  

I began the repair job by Identifying the model number and checking online for the blow up of the parts list.  With this in hand Michelle and I went to Home Depot for the parts.  Fortunately they had the cartridge we needed which matched the picture we had downloaded from the Moen site.

With the cartridge in hand we returned to the house to start the repair job.  As I stated before the part was thirty nine dollars and change.  I the surface this seems a bit steep until you consider how long it is liable to last.

I probably don't need to remind anybody; however, for the sake of being exact about the is type of job, remember to turn of your water in the house before beginning work.  otherwise it could be a bit wet. 

I included this picture just to show the cover piece to the handle that must be removed to access   the screw which normally helps attach the handle to the valve. A small flat head screw driver can be used to pry the cover off.

This image shows the screw head exposed with the cap removed.

After removing the handle (that is if you did not break it off like me) you will need to remove the cover plate which will give you access to the valve.  You can see the two screw holes on either side of the valve center.

After the cover plate is removed you see... Yuck! dirty smegma, I will clean that up later, I promise!  What you see is a small retainer clip that must be removed so the old cartridge can be extracted.  I love that word "extract" because, it has the slight connotation of difficulty; which, as we will see later is unfortunately justified.  OK, back to the job, Using a pair of needle nose pliers pull the retainer up and out of the slot. It should be easily removed by applying upward pressure. In our case this was probably the easiest part of the job.

  The picture to the right shows the clip.  It is small enough to fall down the tub drain; so be careful if yours does not have a screen.

The next part of the operation is can either be very easy or as in our case with some difficulty.  The large picture at the right shows me using two screw drivers to act as levers in order to pull the cartridge out of the valve.  What the picture does not show is the step that precedes extraction which is the breaking loose step.  In the cartridge pack there is a small plastic tool that is used to twist the cartridge in the valve.  you are supposed to turn the cartridge to the right which "breaks" the seal.  In our case the rubber seals that are part of the cartridge would not break loose and in fact tore and stuck in the valve itself.  This made extraction with the screw drivers necessary but unfortunately not possible.  Now, I am not one of these people who will not ask for help.  I will not drive around  wasting fuel for the sake of my masochistic male ego. So I called the Moen customer service number and spoke to a representative who told me that if the cartridge did not come out regularly it could be extracted using two wood screws and a fare amount or careful force.

Since the customer service rep. suggested using course threaded wood screws I decided to use a drill to tap to holes before placing the screws in place. 

After the screws were placed I used two sets of Vice-Grips to assist in applying pulling and twisting force to the cartridge.  This is where it gets a bit touchy.  You do not want  to place so much force that you cause "plummer" calling damage to the valve and pipes.  Obviously this would defeat the purpose of doing it yourself so be careful!

Before I began working the cartridge I decided to spray some  WD40.Following this I applied twisting force moving to the left and right while pulling.  I was careful to brace the valve While doing this.

In the end, the cartridge came out but without the rubber seals

Because the seals were lodged in the valve We had to remove them with needle nose pliers fortunately this worked.

We verified that all the seals were removed by laying them out and matching them with the new cartridge.

Prior to installing the new cartridge, I applied the special lubricant that was supplied with the cartridge kit.

Place the cartridge in the valve then replace the retention clip.  After this the system should be tested for leaks,  the cover plate reinstalled with seal intact and the handle attached.

Oh yes, we did clean the wall before installing the cover plate.......     :) And everything works perfectly! A savings of about $200.00 to $300.00, not bad I say!

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