Shower Success!

In my last post I eluded to my big adventure trying to  fix up the bathroom while Andy was away. We are a bit conflicted over our downstairs bathroom. You see, we both have a problem just leaving the downstairs as is, not because it is hideous but because we both desperatly want to change it. We are both realistic enough to accept that this is not a priority renovation. So in the meantime I have taken it upon myself to step up and salvage the downstairs bathroom… i.e. the cave.

With guests en route we were forced to address the broken shower head/bathtub faucet. For some reason the handle to turn on the shower never quite redirected the water through only the shower head or faucet. What you ended up with was an irritating trickle of water from the shower and pathetic stream from the tub. So here I am…the daughter of a welding pipeliner… I can handle a faulty faucet…RIGHT?! Well, not without excessive photo texting to my dad to make sure I had taken apart the right pieces.

First thing was first, I have to turn off the water. This will be different for everyone depending on where their water shut off is located. In my case I have to go to the front of my garage to turn it off. Once off, I ran the sink faucet to make sure the water was totally off.

I inspected the handle, saw that it was connected with a recessed screw, grabbed the right fitting allen wrench and moved forward with operation “shower faucet removal”.

Step 1: Remove the handle:

Removing the Handle

Once the handle is off, I was able to unscrew this portion of the handle. Then you can easily move on to

Step 2: Remove the face plate:

Remove face Plate - It should pop right off

Once the face plate is gone  you can see the “cartridge” – which was responsible for directing the water through the shower, or bath tub spout. In my case the source of the broken shower handle

Step 3: Remove cartridge:

The cartridge is attached to a brass fitting that directs water from our house lines into the shower

This is when I started madly taking photos and texting them to my dad to make sure that I wasn’t about to get shot in the face with a stream of water or destroy 1508′s plumbing :) He assured me that this black piece was the source of all my shouwer related problems. I went ahead and used a phillips head screw driver to remove the 4 brass screws that attach the cartirdge from the fitting.

This is the cartridge piece that I took to home depot

I noticed a little water was dripping from the fitting in the wall so I shoved a rag in the space in order to soak up any moisture. I was paranoid of lettingwater drip behind the wall and creating a sess pool for mold to start growing:

Now that I had successfully removed the cartridge it was on to the bathtub faucet:

Step 1: Try unscrewing the bathtub faucet counterclockwise. Apparantly  a lot of standard bathtub faucet’s screw on and off.

This is actually the new bathtub faucet, I forgot to take picture with the original

Step 2: Completely remove from wall and inspect:

This is the piece of copper piping that feeds through the wall and delivers water to the bathtub. The bath tub faucet screws on and off of this pipe.

There is the problem - Disgusting!

When I looked in the bathtub faucet and saw all of this lime scale buildup and grossness I was immediately

A. thankful I had never bathed in this bathtub.

B. Clear on why water was having such a hard time with the bathtub faucet.

So with my bath tub faucet and cartride in hand I set off for home depot. I think my first mistake was assuming home depot would be able to give me the answers or parts I was looking for. I initially wanted to replace the whole handle and buy something more modern and updated. It took 3 different salesmen until I found one person who knew anything about shower handles/plumbing. He directed me to a small plumbing store around the corner. Before I left I learned this:

Many new faucets and handles ( Kohler, Price Fitzer, etc) Build the cartridge piece into the entire assmbly. So when the cartridge breaks you actually have to buy a new handle (Between $50-$400, for typical home depot options). Two, Some of the cartridges need unique brass fitting in the wall which means hardcore plumbing changes (not what I was looking for on a Saturday afternoon). So if you are ever replacing a cartridge and or handle, make sure it works with the current brass fitting in your wall, otherwise you are going to be sautering in new brass fitting and praying that they don’t leak :)

I arrived at the plumbing store around the corner and felt like I had hit the jackpot ( 3 roto rooter vans parked out front buying parts). I went in through the front door and found that the front of the store is a complete bathroom and kitchen show room, Here are a few snapshots of my favorite things:

Love these modern fixtures

Lots of vanities:

Upstairs bathroom Ideas!

Future Downstairs bathroom Ideas:

I love the concrete counter top  on this one!

So after a little diversion I got back to business and went to the back of the plumbing store to buy parts. The guys were SOOO helpful and patient with my questions. I definitely looked like the strange lady who had no idea what was going on, thank goodness my good friend was with me to share the embarrassment. Power in numbers!

After a half hour we left with a new cartridge and faucet having spent less than $25, I felt like a Rockstar ( DIY, money saving rockstar) :

This is a good time to point out that it is always worth paying attention to How you take things apart. It never fails that when it comes to putting things back together I always do it the wrong way. Oh well…In the end we had success:

With the new cartridge installed and the faucet put back together all the water was diverted to the shower head, showing me just how bad the shower head really is :) Now off to soak that in some lime away so I don’t have to buy a new one!

For the finishing step you need to caulk in the new bath tub spout and handle face plate with a wet application caulk. Dap is a common brand we like to use around the house, and it is stocked at every major hardware store.

Next for the bathroom…a new coat of paint.

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5 Responses to Shower Success!

  1. Ora Greene says:

    Awesome, but it would be better if in future you can share more about this subject. posts.

    • Rocky says:

      Thanks for the feedback! If you check out the too busy… Post I started talking about the downstairs bathroom (I.e cave). In the future I should create more of a clear buildup of posts :)

    • Rocky says:

      I will do my best! Thanks for stopping by :)

  2. You are a very clever individual!

  3. %BLOGTITLE%? Thumbs up! This totally makes sense to a person like me. Thanks a lot and by the way why dont you also read the vent hood reviews maybe you will also end up getting interested on it

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