Problem replacing American Standard shower diverter stem.

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by BenRad, Sep 24, 2006.

  1. BenRad

    BenRad New Member

    Messages:
    6
    I live in a 3 floor house, built in 1920, and I'd say the (pink and grey tiled) bathroom was installed circa 1955, with all the original fixtures. They're branded as "Standard" which I assume is American Standard, since I've been able to replace both the faucet stems with Danco american standard parts. The tub faucet runs when I switch the diverter to the shower. I've pulled out the stem and looked at it and all appears to be well, but no matter what I seem to do, it still leaks a ton of water when it's set to shower. I flipped over the end washer, just for fun, and still no love.

    So, I pulled the stem and went to the Depot to try and get a replacement part, but alas, they don't seem to carry 60 year old parts (only faucet parts). Any ideas where I might be able to get an ancient American Standard shower diverter stem. The brass is in fairly good shape, so I'm pretty sure I could replace whatever corroded parts need to be replaced. My other problem is that I have no idea if something is missing on the stem. I'll take a picture of it tomorrow and post it. From what I can see, there's an o ring, a washer at the end, and another washer, deep inside the stem and they all look pretty intact.

    I'd prefer not to have to replace the entire fixture, as it would ruin the antique "flow" of the bathroom. Obviously it'll be easier to diagnose this problem once you see the stem, but does anyone have any ideas in the meantime?

    Thanks...

    EDIT: For clarity, since it was late, and I was tired.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2006
  2. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    When a tub or shower faucet stem leaks when you turn on the water, it usually means that the packing nut needs to be tightened or that the packing material needs to be replaced. The packing nut is the nut closest to the top of the stem. You can tighten this nut without having to remove the stem. The packing material is under this nut. On diverter stems there may be an additional nylon seal that could also cause this problem if it is missing or damaged.

    The little rubber washer at the bottom of the stem that you turned over keeps the faucet from dripping when the water is turned off (hot and cold stem) and it keeps the water from leaking out your tub spout when you are taking a shower (diverter stem).
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2006
  3. BenRad

    BenRad New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Sorry, I went back and read my post and realized I wasn't too clear on what I meant. Basically the tub faucet runs when the diverter is switched to shower, so, water is coming out of the shower and out of the faucet, into the tub. The stem is not leaking. As I said before, the washer at the end of the stem is in good shape, so there must be something else happening. I'll post a picture this evening. Sorry for the confusion...
  4. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    When switching to the shower mode the washer closes against a "seat" to push the water up to the shower head. The seat and washer need to be replaced. They sell seat removal tools but you will need to get the right seat as there are many. B4 you pull the seat find a place that sells / supply's seats to plumbers as they will be your best bet at finding the right one the first time. When you find a place that sells seats buy thye removal tool from them. You want the type that has individual tools with a ratchiting device for removal and reinstalling the seats. OR you could call and find a plumber that does this type of work and be done with it.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2006
  5. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    I believe a Am. Std. faucet of that era has "barrels" and that the seat is part of the barrel.

    Your talking about the diverter stem. It's a two way valve and the back side is missing or warn away.

    I believe those parts are still available.
  6. BenRad

    BenRad New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Here's the stem

    Here's what it looks like...

    [​IMG]

    Does it appear that the seat is worn? It APPEARS to seal up pretty tight when you screw in the stem, but then again I'm not sure. I wasn't able to find a replacement part for this anywhere, can anyone point me in the direction of a good online plumbing supply site?
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2006
  7. BenRad

    BenRad New Member

    Messages:
    6
    But then I wouldn't be able to spend hours of my time swearing, sweating and catching assorted body parts between adjustable wrenches and the like. ;)
  8. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    It looks like there may be an o-ring missing near the bottom of the stem, where there is a groove, but no o-ring.

    Also, the brass seat needs to be unscrewed separately with a seat wrench. It is further down in the pipe.

    If replacing the o-ring, rubber seat washer, and brass seat doesn't work, you might try finding another diverter stem that is the same length and which your handle can fit snugly over the knurled top.
  9. BenRad

    BenRad New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Verdeboy, actually, there is an o-ring in that groove, but it doesn't fill the entire groove. Maybe I need to replace that.
  10. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    I'm glad your having all the fun!!!!! :)
  11. xbond

    xbond New Member

    Messages:
    1
    where do i get one

    i have the same problem i even stuffed the pipe with plumbers epoxy to slow down the leak ahahahahahhahhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! where can i get this stem ??? thanks {UGC} XBOND
  12. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Take it with you to some local supply houses and hardware stores to match it up. They will usually be happy to steer you towards a supply house that should have it or, can get it. Stems are a niche market item and a lot of places will carry a few but be happy to refer you to the local "Big Kahuna" of stems. Once you visit him if he comes up blank you just might want to start sweating about finding one. Post back if you have problems finding it local.
  13. royt

    royt New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    NJ
    Benrad,

    Came across your post from a web search. I have the same 1950s american standard bathroom (pink and green!). Before I replace the 3 fixtureshower setup with a moen single handle ($$$), I was wondering if you had any luck find or repairing the diverter stem? My problem is that when you switch it to shower, no water comes out the shower head or tub spout. I would like to keep the bathroom original and avoid the $800 bill the plumber has quoted me to do the single handle replacement.

    Thanks,
    Roy
  14. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Royt,
    For your problem I'd unscrew the showerhead off the shower arm and check it for blockages....
  15. Jallen

    Jallen New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Arlington, TX
    I have the same style shower in my house. When I first moved in I could turn the diverter valve to shower and I would get some water out of the shower, but still a full flow from the tub spout. I promptly made a trip down to Ace Hardware and purchased a new diverter valve and this solved my problem 100%. Over the course of 4 years, it began to leak again and I noticed my diverter valve was now loose in it's threads. Nothing I could do would tighten it up enough that I wasn't threading it out of the wall when I turned the knob to shower. I went down to Ace and bought another one.

    This one tightens up nice and firm and I'm not pulling it out of the wall when I open or close the valve. Problem is I am still getting a decent amount of flow out of the tub spout even with a brand new valve that is securely fastened. Any ideas on what I can do?

    I thought about replacing my spout with a diverter spout and bypassing the stem valve, but I'm not sure how to go about doing that or if these older American Standards even have threaded spouts or not. My shower head is the kind with a ball end and no threads, so I'm weary about trying to treat this like a "modern" setup and trying to twist things out of the wall.
  16. guyinsb

    guyinsb New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Removing old diverter stem

    The comments in this thread have helped. I was able to remove the diverter stem, but only after much trepidation.A bit of wasted water from the tub spout during showers is a minor issue; wrecking the shower body means replacing it,plus installing new tile ($1000?). At any rate, I found a safe way to remove the diverter stem (the obstacle is the tight fittingbarrel). I guess others have been able to just yank it out by re-attaching the handle after removing the main locking sleeveand bonnet. My technique was to use screw leverage. I removed the handle and escutcheon, then loosened the main locking sleeve about 3 full turns(but you must leave the main locking sleeve well within its threads).Then I slipped the locking sleeve and bonnet from one of the faucet stems over the diverter stem; then inserted a screw with big washersin the end of the stem. Now you can just untighten the bonnet, which applies pressure to the washers at the end of the stem. It just takesa full turn or two to dislodge the barrel, at which point you remove everything from the stem and yank it out.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 2, 2012
  17. guyinsb

    guyinsb New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Update on diverter repair

    My attempt to remove the seat was futile; the seat would not budge. I decided to eliminate the diverter entirely; I cut off the end of the diverter, then put it
    (minus the barrel) back in the shower body (just to act as a stopper). I then replaced the old tub spout with a new one which included its own diverter.
    Works like a champ.
  18. guyinsb

    guyinsb New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Location:
    Santa Barbara, CA
    Not so fast

    My verdict was premature. If there is just a small amount of pressure, all is fine. But normal folks turn on hot and cold with plenty of flow, then want to adjust for temperature. In that case, water drizzles out of the shower head, even if the tub spout is fully open.

    So I need to get that seat out. Other posts on the web suggest inserting seat wrench, then tapping with hammer till the wrench bites; then remove by turning counter clockwise carefully.

    If that don't work, I'll add a shutoff to the shower neck.
  19. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,019
    Location:
    New England
    The physical design of some seats means that not all wrenches work with all of them. If the wrench bottoms before it 'locks' into the hole of the seat, sometimes you need to cut some of the taper off of the wrench so it can wedge in tightly to the seat. If you bang on it to try to lock it in place, and it's not seated, you might poke a hole in the back of the valve. Hard to do, but by no means impossible.
  20. Hackney plumbing

    Hackney plumbing Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,174
    Location:
    Alabama
    I advise you to use the proper seat wrench first....if it strips use a seat extractor. A seat extractor is like an easy out but has fine threads. They work MOST of the time.

    Your not going to find a quality set of seat tools at the box stores.
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