Old shower / compression faucet leak?

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by chigundo, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. chigundo

    chigundo New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I have a shower that I think is original from 1949. Not sure if the hardware has ever been replaced. It's a two handle shower, I believe it's "compression" type.

    I have a leak indicated by the arrow here. Should I replace this entire faucet or can I just remove the faucet and replace the washer, o-ring, etc if needed?

    [​IMG]
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,266
    Location:
    New England
    YOu might get by with just replacing the stem packing. From a safety viewpoint, it would be good to replace the whole shebang with one meeting current codes (i.e., one with scald-guard features: pressure balanced or thermostatic controlled). I doubt one that old is using an o-ring.
  3. chigundo

    chigundo New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Uh oh

    Trouble. I took it out and as you can see, here's the entire piece. The problem is the washer seat. The arrow is pointing to it. That piece is no longer connected to the rest of the stem. It looks fine in the picture, but in reality a little tuck and the thing comes right off. Years of corrosion I assume. I went to home depot and lowes, couldn't find a matching part. I'll try a plumbing supply store next. It's a pain though because i need to shut the water off to the house everytime i need to bring the piece with me.

    [​IMG]
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,045
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    stem

    You should show us a picture with the washer retainer "removed". I would doubt that a heavy stem like that could corrode the retainer off. Some of them had removable retainers which were held in place by the washer and its screw.
  5. chigundo

    chigundo New Member

    Messages:
    26
    Location:
    North Carolina
    The screw holes only the washer in place. The retainer removes much like an erasor head on an old no.2 pencil. So it's got a "nipple" that fits into the rest of the stem. Initially I thought it was supposed to be like that, but there's nothing other than a little friction preventing it from coming completely out.

    Why would they ever make a stem like that on purpose? An extra turn and the wash/retainer could fall right off. Only the pressure of the water and a slight turn keeps it intact.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,045
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    stem

    It is not obvious in your picture, but your description is that of a rotating washer retainer. The idea was that when the washer made contact with the seat it would stop turning and the stem would just push it against the seat, thus eliminating wear. If that is what you have the retainer was held by a deformed end of the stem which grabbed it. They are usually pulled apart by someone opening the faucet so far that the retainer is pulled out of the end of the stem. Once it happens it cannot be put back together and you need a new stem.
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