Replaced Price Pfister Valve Stems -- Water coming through ceiling

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by mbloom, Dec 29, 2007.

  1. mbloom

    mbloom New Member

    Messages:
    9
    This should have been simple...

    Replaced PP h/c valve stems and diverter to stop slow leak in tub. Now I have a slow leak through ceiling. Used pipe joint compound on threads and ensured everything was tight. There was great rejoicing for a few days (as I also installed a whole house water filter, a clear wave and got the neutralizer working that day) and then...drip, drip drip. The drip is inconsistent -- when the kids take a bath no water, wife takes shower, sometimes water. I caulked everything thinking it could be that simple. Today I had my parrot in the shower for about 30 min and drip drip drip. I cut the ceiling (which kills me as there are swirls in the plaster I will never be able to replicate). There is wood I cannot see through, but water seems to be coming from valve area.

    If a valve(s) were leaking, I would assume it would leak whether open or shut. Not 100% sure, but I'm guessing when using tub spout there is no leak, but when using shower there is. I need to wait for things to dry before I begin trying to pinpoint the problem, but could the diverter be the culprit, and if so how? Thoughts?

    Thanks
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,767
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Pull the stems and remove any tape you used.

    The stems come with a round plastic seal.
    All that tape will do, is lift the stem farther from the mating surface, and provide a place for water to leak past the seal.
    Imagine someone putting their hand between the door and the doorjamb, you're going to get cold air in the house, right?

    If you have replaced the "seats", those go in with a little pipe dope (thread sealant)
  3. mbloom

    mbloom New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Thanks, but I didn't use tape -- I used pipe dope. I also used pipe dope on the seats (which I assume are the small "rings" that screw in before the valve stem.) I'm remebering that the tile around the diverter was cut tight and I had a hard time tightening. It is possible the diverter isn't in fully, is it possible that the diverter would only leak when turend to the shower head and not the tub spout? Either way I'll neeed to chip away at the tile to ensure I get the socket fully around the diverter.
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,767
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I don't use pipe dope on the stem threads.

    Normally the stems thread in easily, until that last snugging of the wrench.

    Do you have galvanized piping? With older pipe, the steel tends to corrode where it touches the brass.
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Any of the three stems can leak when the shower is used. As Terry said, there really should be nothing on the threads. There is a flat gasket which slips up over the threads, and seals that flange joint when you screw the stem in. Here are three things which could cause a leak:1) Missing gasket2) Used new stem gasket, and the OLD one is also still there, stuck on the valve body3) Screwing in any of the stems, with the stem turned towards the "open" position. In this case, the stem bottoms out and doesn't allow the outer body of the assembly to bottom against the main valve body.4) Another one you can check quickly: there is a packing around the movable stem. The small outer nut tightens that. remove the three handles, then run hot and cold water and move the diverter stem. See if any of them have leakage around the stem. For that matter, this will also allow you to see if there is leakage at the body gaskets.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,253
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    stems

    The diverter is a double seating stem, and if there is anything on the inside surface, and/or the outer seal ring is not correct, it will seat internally, but not at the surface and then water will leak when the shower is used. You can see it any of the stems are leaking by removing the trim escutcheons and observing the stem seals while the shower and tub are being used.
  7. mbloom

    mbloom New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Hmmm

    I'll remove the handles and escutcheons and observe for leaks. It is also possible one of the valves was screwed in in the open position. It is copper piping.

    I had purchased a Danco replacment kit from Home Depot -- not including the escutcheons and handles -- there were two water valve stems, a diverter stem, three (what I assumed are the) seats (small rings that screwed in) and three plastic threaded tubes to hold the escutcheon on. I assumed the assembly was fully assembled. There were no gaskets or washers included.

    I will observe to see if the leak occurs using the tub spout as well as the shower. At this point I believe it is only when the shower is used. There is no leak when the hot/cold are off.

    Thanks
  8. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    The shower puts slightly more back pressure at the valve body than when the tub is used, so that could explain that part.

    Here is a diagram of a common 3 handle tub/shower. The cap gasket we have referred to is # 900-050 on the diverter stem, and 900-030 on the hot/cold stems. The stem packing is 951-780. ( the o-ring near that may be found on newer models in lieu of the packing ). Note that these part numbers are specific price/pfister part numbers for this model. If yours is a different brand or model, everything looks similar but you will need parts specific to yours.
    go to http:// then type faucetsdirect dot com slash then enter pricepfisterparts/pdfs/01series3handtubshow2.pdf

    Sorry for the lame link; It isn't surreptitious, but the filters just won't let the whole link appear
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2007
  9. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,767
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    [​IMG]

    The seal in this picture is 950-030
    Make sure the bonnets nuts are not leaking on the Danco stems. They always come very loose.
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,253
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    faucet

    If you installed the stems without them being fully opened, you would have a more serious problem than a leak when it was used. You would have valve that would not shut off and would require the entire valve to be replaced.
  11. mbloom

    mbloom New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Thank you both very much!!

    I had bought the Verve kit -- it came fully assembled and I assume 950-030 is there. I was filling the tub for the kids, first the hot -- seemed dry, then I opened the cold...drip drip drip. I guess I was wrong about the diverter. Of course I'm not sure if the drip starts after any pooling occurs in an area I can't see. I'll need to run just the cold later.

    What confuses me is why the valve would drip when open, you would think the leak would occur with the water closed as that is when there is pressure. Could it be as simple as tightening the bonnet a little more?
  12. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,806
    Location:
    New England
    If the valve seat is working, you'll not get any leaking when it is off. Yes, simply tightening the bonnet could solve your problem. There is only water there once the valve is opened.
  13. mbloom

    mbloom New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Looking Better

    I thought the bonnet's were as tight as could be but I was able to get an extra 1/4 to 1/2 turn out of each. It made me nervous to apply the extra pressure as I had visions of something snapping or stripping. I also tightened the packing nut to be safe -- can I back that off as the handles are now hard to turn?

    The parrot is back in the shower and the drip seems to have stopped -- which I have been observing through the hole I cut in the ceiling. I'll keep an eye on it for a few days and then patch the ceiling.

    It kills me that it was just a matter of tightening the bonnet, but I guess the alternative was cutting open the back of the shower...then again I should put in an anti-scald faucet to be safe with the kids, just that there is no way to match the 30 year old tile or wallpaper and I need to make sure the faucet project doesn't turn into a new bathroom.

    Thanks for all your help.
  14. mbloom

    mbloom New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Still Leaking

    Thought I was in the clear...wife took shower and drip drip drip. I've been reading other posts. I used a large flat head screw driver to remove and install the seats -- it is possible they are not fully in or that I damaged them?
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,806
    Location:
    New England
    Maybe. The seats are usually designed for a tapered hexagonal wrench. A screwdriver might have distored it or left a burr.
  16. mbloom

    mbloom New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Epilogue

    Chalk it up to rookie mistake. I purchased a seat wrench ($6), removed the stems and seats, "re-doped" and put it all back together. It has been a few days now without a drip! I'm pretty sure using a flat head screwdriver to tighten the seats didn't do the trick.

    Thanks for everyone's help!
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