Jammed shower faucet after cold weather

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by rtc35, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. rtc35

    rtc35 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Nova Scotia
    I thought the pipes had frozen when no water came out of the shower one day (it was -15 C or 5 F), but I left it open and ran a blow dryer over it until the pipes warmed up. It began to trickle a bit faster so I let it run until it was warm water, so obviously there wasn't ice in the pipes by that time. It's now April and warm outside, but even now, all that comes out is a few drops. I'm presuming that in the freezing, something jammed inside the faucet. Is this likely something I can fix without replacing the whole faucet (I don't even know how I'd get at it)? Can somebody help me understand what's happening inside the faucet?

    Thanks,
    Robin
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,274
    Location:
    New England
    It's hard to say without knowing what valve you have! Some have check valves, many have spool valves, and either or both of those could be clogged or jammed (nearly) shut. If it did actually freeze, it may have distorted the valve body, and the only fix would be replacement...hard to say without seeing it and knowing what you're working with.
  3. rtc35

    rtc35 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Nova Scotia
    I don't know how to distinguish check values from spool values but perhaps a picture will help. While we're at it, I'm wondering what the purpose of these things are that I've pointed to. I'm just curious.

    Thanks! shower-faucet.jpg shower-faucet-2.jpg
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,274
    Location:
    New England
    The items on the outer edges are in-line shutoff valves. The one under the circular cap is likely the spool valve.
  5. rtc35

    rtc35 New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    Nova Scotia
    I've sorted out the problem and it turned out to be much easier to fix than I thought. Hopefully somebody out there who also knows as little about plumbing as I do can be saved some time and money by reading this.

    One day in February, the shower lines seemed to have frozen, as no water was coming from the faucet. I ran the hot water on full, but it only slowly trickled. Finally, it was hot water dripping slowly from the tap, but I couldn't understand why it was only slowly dripping. I assumed something inside the faucet was distorted and jammed from the freezing. Then the cold line started dripping in the wall, so I shut off only the cold water line. We have pex pipes (plastic) that connect to a short piece of copper that then connects to the faucet. I read that pex would not likely split from freezing so assumed it was the copper, but it was in fact the pex pipes that split - so never assume. I had searched for a pex crimper a few years ago and heard that they sell for about $200, and that is true, but they also sell cheaper ones now. But even better, I discovered new fittings that slides onto pex or copper interchangably - no special tools required. That was unbelievably easy. So I fixed the cold water line and turned it back on. As soon as I did that, the hot water returned to full pressure. This must be a result of the balancing valve/spool value, which regulates the distribution of hot and cold, so you don't get scalded. Somebody can correct me if that's not quite right. Anyway, I didn't know such things existed inside faucets, so I had no idea that the hot water could come back once the cold line was turned on. I should have mentioned that I had the cold line off in my original post, but didn't realize the significance.

    Thanks to jadnashua for the replies and the others who helped on this related post: http://www.terrylove.com/forums/sho...ly-will-pex-pipe-melt-near-a-soldered-fitting.
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