Help identify tub valves and unstick the shower diverter

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by yagophil, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. yagophil

    yagophil New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    bay area
    Hi all,

    We just moved into a 21 year old home that has the following 3-handled tub/shower fixtures. In one bathroom the diverter valve is stuck / frozen in the shower position.

    I've disassembled as much as I can from the tile side... I was able to unscrew and remove the outer shaft, but I don't think there is anything left to unscrew. But the splined shaft will not come out nor rotate. Tried some WD-40 and some tapping with a hammer, but no luck.

    Any ideas or tricks I can try, or how to disassemble further? Does anyone know who is the manufacturer of these valves?

    Thanks!

    photo(3).JPG photo.jpg photo(2).JPG
  2. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    I'm not sure what it is.......but it kinda looks like a Phylrich stem. I looked over phylrichs website and didn't see it but that doesn't mean jack.

    Can you take a pic of the back of the valve in the wall? Maybe you have an access panel,maybe not.

    The packing nut holds that stemm in from what I see. In one pic you have the packing nut removed.

    Do not try to rotate the stem counter clockwise.....I believe the longer spline is actually threaded into the interior portion of the diverter and it has a permanent type epoxy all installed at the factory. So if you try to rotate counter clockwise it could break that connection and you end up with the spline in your hand and the half the diverter stem still left in the faucet.

    Try to rotate the stem clockwise. Use some force but dont kill it. The stem should pull straight out.......it does not thread into the valve.

    If you have access from the back you might try heating that portion of the valve body to expand it......be very careful not to over heat if you do this. Just get it hot enough that you cant touch it . If you heat too much it may make it harder to get out.

    Goodluck to you sir.
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,815
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    A picture of one of the faucet stems might be more helpful. It could be a Harden or Santec and the diverter could just pull out if it were not stuck inside the faucet.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  4. yagophil

    yagophil New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    bay area
    guys--

    thanks so much for the responses!

    the diverter's splined shaft was already loose, and just as hackney p. said, i believe there was some epoxy in the threads to bond the shaft into the diverter. attached are two pics that show 1) the stem and the packing sleeve, and 2) the diverter mechanism without the stem.

    picture 3) shows the packing sleeve of the cold water valve. looks similar, but i didn't disassemble further.

    based on the same fixture upstairs, the "shower" position is CCW and "tub" is CW. so in theory i should be cranking this CW, which would also tighten the shaft into the diverter. but i don't want to strip the threads on the shaft, and it just will not budge!

    there is no access from behind, i don't want to put a big hole in our family room wall. there's only the tile side access to try to heat it, which seems iffy. looks like i might have to call in an expert. would he replace the valve from the tile side or the family room wall side?

    photo.JPG photo(2).JPG photo(3).jpg
  5. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    Leave the spline shaft out. Leave the bonnet out. Go and buy a "pencil" torch. A pencil torch has a very sharp tipped flame. Use the pencil torch to gently heat the valve body from inside where the the bonnet would normally be screwed in.

    DO NOT HEAT THE SPLINES or the rest of the diverter stem. Dont overheat....very important. Now quickly screw the spline shaft back into the rest of the diverter and hopefully you can get it to turn clockwise and then pull out. Work fast.

    Here is a pencil torch
    http://www.google.com/products/cata...JLwxT-GJK8eEsgLNrtWCBw&sqi=2&ved=0CFQQ8wIwAA#

    Give the heat time to transfer back to where the diverter is stuck......heat it slow.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,815
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    diverter

    Heating the diverter stem will expand it and "jam" it tighter into the faucet body. A plumber would access the valve from whichever side you want to repair, but he might also NOT have to replace the valve if he knows how to fix yours.
  7. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    Thats right,you cant heat the diverter,you must heat the body up.. I've done this same job before. Thats how I knew how the spline screwed into the rest of the stem. I'd bet 100 bucks they used red epoxy.
  8. yagophil

    yagophil New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    bay area
    OK guys, I understand what you're saying--heat the body up (the part with threads) and not the actual moving valve piece (or stem) itself. It will be tricky though, there's not much clearance, and it will be easy to accidentally heat the moving piece along with the body.

    As an aside I had a [home warranty] plumber over here for another issue, and he took a look at the diverter and thought it might be a Grohe valve. He admitted to not having much experience with them, so didn't want to attempt any repair. I was happy he knew his limits, but it brings us back to the ultimate question: how do you find a capable, reliable plumber?! :)

    Thanks again for the help guys, if I try the heating or get some resolution I will post back.
  9. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    Before I replace the entire valve I would chance ruining the existing first. Here is how. I would thread the splines back into the rest of the diverter. Install the packing nut. Then take a large pair of vise grip locking pliers and clamp them VERY VERY tight to the splines...maybe even use two sets. ...one in front of the other.

    Then I would start unscrewing the packing nut out of the valve with a cresent wrench while holding or having another person hold the vise grips firmly in place.

    Hopefully the packing nut would direct the force directly straight out and pull the diverter out when the nut started to hit the vise grips......you could also put a large washer between the packing nut and your vise grips so the nut would have somthing flat to push against.

    To do this you would need to remove the threaded tube from the packing nut.

    Several things could happen. The vise grips may slide......you may need to make some flat spots as wide as the vise grip jaws to bite into and not be able to slide. make the flat spots opposing each other with a flat file.

    The spline portion could stripp out where its screwed into the rest of the diverter.


    I wish I was close by.....I'd do it for you just for the fun of it.

    The packing nut threads or the valve body threads may break/strip out from the force. That would be bad news.

    You could also maybe use a small vise instead of the vise grips. Tighten the vise onto the spline just like I explained the vise grips. Tighten the crap out of the vise. Then unscrew the packing nut. That should direct the force straight outward.....hopefully pulling the whole unit out.

    You may have to repeat that process a few times in order to pull it all the way out. DO not let the packing nut get near the last few threads......they may break off. After a few turns if its starting to pull out......stop and re-position and start again.

    lay some cardboard and some blankets in the tub to protect its finish.....you dont want to damage the tubs finish by dropping anything.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  10. yagophil

    yagophil New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    bay area
    Eureka!

    Got it out. Hackney Plumbing, you da man! :) :D

    Your little trick to back it out using the packing nut worked a treat. But it fought me every mm of the way. I crunched up the splines pretty good, but I think I can still get the knob on with a little persuasion.

    Now I fear the real work starts: Do I replace the whole assembly or just the O-rings? Still don't know the manufacturer. How do I remove the corrosion so it spins freely (soak in CLR?)? How do I clean out the corrosion in the back of the body (see photo).

    Thanks again!!!

    photo.jpg photo(2).jpg
  11. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    The one I repaired.......I took the o-rings off. I cleaned the spline shaft...and cleaned where the splines screw into the rest of the stem with a wire brush. Then I scred the splines back into it......with some soldering flux on both pieces. Then I soldered the splines to the rest of the diverter stem.

    This way it will not unscrew when your using the valve. If it uncrews while your using the valve the barrel of the diverter will not be operating. The handles and splines would be the only thing turning. Thats bad...it wouldn't work.

    After that, I replaced the O rings and use a good coat of silicone grease. VERY important to use silicone grease on that. No other kind ok......

    The valve body I worked on did not have any corrosion or build up.......I would try to just wash it out with water from the faucet. I wouldn't use a wire brush to clean inside the body.......unless I HAD to as a last resort. If you do end up having to use a wire brush inside the valve body....be easy and wash it out good afterwards with the hot and cold water.

    YOU da man......you follow directions well,somthing most people dont do!!!!
  12. yagophil

    yagophil New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    bay area
    Done!

    All finished--I cleaned up the valve body and valve, installed new o-rings, added a dab of silicon grease. Seems to work fine now! The only thing left is to regrout around the packing nut (there's about 1/4-3/4" clearance all around, too big for caulk.) BTW, the plumbing supply shop where I picked up the o-rings agreed with HJ--it's a "Harden" valve.

    Thanks to you both, especially Hackney P, without your help I would never have done it. I wish I were closer so I could buy you a beer! :D

    - - - -

    Apparently plumbing happiness is short lived, as just now the shower head pipe in our master bath broke off in my hand. :mad: I pulled some of the old pipe out with needle nose, but there are still some corroded bits left in the threads of the elbow. A quick googling says I should try a #10 file, I'm not sure the file will catch on them or not. Well that should be the topic for another thread... but likely I'll just call a plumber!

    Cheers guys.
  13. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
  14. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    Yeah thankfully now we know what we repaired.
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