Leaking Sterling 3-handle Shower Tub faucet

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by TangledHeart, Jun 25, 2014.

  1. TangledHeart

    TangledHeart New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    California
    I have a 3 handle shower tub faucet that has leaked for years. I replaced the stems last year, but recently learned that the ones hardware store gave me to use were the wrong ones. I brought in the original, and being a novice, I was under the impression the associates working there had the knowledge to give me the proper replacement parts. Against my better judgement I used the Price Pfister stem replacements that were given to me by the sales associate. It started to leak shortly after and washers have since been replaced twice.
    There was a leak on the main water shut off, and since the water had to be shut off for the repair, I decided to go ahead and replace the washers, or rebuild, whatever it would take to stop the leak. Since there was issues with the diverter, I decided to go ahead and rebuild or replace that too. THAT was WHEN I realized my gut feeling was correct and the stems were not the correct ones. Before I went to the hardware store, I went online and crossed referenced images and descriptions older faucets and the diverter . I found out the original parts were/are Sterling.
    Beings Sterling is no longer manufacturing these faucets, I had to find either an after market repair/replacement kit or find somewhere that still has the parts. I prefer OEM, and found a plumbing supply that carry Sterling parts. Since I no longer have the original stems, all I had to go on was the diverter and the original seats.
    Knowing how important it is to have the seats in good shape, I chose to replace the old ones. I cleaned up the inside of the manifold as much as I was able. It didn't appear to be stripped or gouged in any way. I used a plumbers brush to clear any debris that may be left, and blew it out.
    I purchased new all 3 new seats, H/C stems with original washers, new diverter stem and washers, and all the trim.
    I sprayed a little silicone spray on the seats, put on single layer of Teflon tape on all the stems, and carefully inserted and tighten. I made sure the stems and bonnets were tight, but was careful not to over tighten them.
    After everything was in it's place, I turned on the water and it leaked. Something did, but was sure what. It was a small leak, but no leak is acceptable, especially living in So Cal, where we are in a drought.
    I have tried everything I know to stop the leak...I've changed washers, trying different styles in hopes one may better cover the seat, if there is possible issues there, I've put a single layer of Teflon tape on all threads, I've silicone sprayed every part, and done it without each. I have kept the openings in the manifold clear of any possible debris, although there has never been any found as of yet. It doesn't appear to have been crossed threaded from the prior install of the improper stems, but I could be mistaking or just not seeing it. I have looked at the threads of each stem every time I have taken it back out to see if there was any particularly unusual scratches or change in the threads and I have seen nothing.
    I am at wits end...I can't stand this leak, and it just plain puzzles the heck out of me.
    Is there ANY tricks someone can suggest? ANY suggestions, short of replacing the entire faucet, would be soooooooooooo appreciated. Like most homes built in the late 50's early 60's, the tub is tiled and re-doing it is not viable option right now.
  2. dj2

    dj2 Member

    Messages:
    409
    Location:
    California
    You got to love it. For all the research you've done, for all the running around town for parts, for all the sweat, for all of this and all of that.....don't you think calling a plumber to put in a NEW FAUCET would have been cheaper and headache free?
  3. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,922
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I prefer pipe dope to tape for seats. If a strand of tape get loose, it can't prevent the seal from coming down on the seat. Though I see that the Price Pfister kits comes with tape.

    I never expect someone working in a hardware stores knows much. If they did, they could make more money elsewhere. Sorry about that. But franky, I did hardware work "before" I got into plumbing and never looked back.
    Sometimes it's nice to pull the three handle valves and replace with a pressure balanced single handle valve. It will be much easier to find parts for those in the future.
  4. TangledHeart

    TangledHeart New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    California
    I didn't run around town, I let my fingers do the running....I use the internet. No, calling a plumber is the last resort. I have had nothing but horrible luck as of late with 'professional plumbers'. As I stated, a new faucet would necessitate cutting the wall, hence the tile, and I am not in a position to do that right now.
  5. TangledHeart

    TangledHeart New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    California
    Well, to be quite honest, I caved under pressure to avoid humility when going with the choice the employee made. I was with an ex that believes women have no place repairing anything, much less the ability to know which is the proper replacement part. He was starting to make a scene when I questioned the choice the employee made and I wanted to avoid it from escalating. Bad decision in the long run, but now I am trying to rectify the problem and do it right. Again, replacing the entire manifold isn't a viable option at this time. I was really hoping there was someone out there with a 'trick' or tip from a similar past experience.
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