Separate hot and cold water valves

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by bpap, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. bpap

    bpap New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    MA
    I have a bath/shower with separate hot and cold water valves and a third one that is a diverter to switch between the shower and the tub faucet. Recently I had a steady dripping from the faucet so I changed the stem washer. I also tried to change the valve seat, but apparently I ended up stripping the seat as the square hole became rounded and I was no longer able to remove it.

    I called a professional to look at it and he was also unable to remove the seat. He indicate the only option was to replace all three handles with a single handle and either tile over the holes or use a conversion kit with a plate that covers the holes. He wanted to use a Symmons conversion kit. My understanding is that apparently it is against code to have separate hot and cold valves these days in order to protect from scalding.

    My questions are:
    1. Is there no option to have 3 separate handles/valves in any form? I really prefer this older look and would like to preserve it if at all possible.

    2. Is there any way to remove the broken/stripped seat? The plumber indicated he could try an E-Z out, but the ones he had were too short. If I could find one that was about 5 inches long (to reach all the way into where the seat was) that I could try that, but there was no guarantee it would work.

    My apologies if I have used ay incorrect terminology.

    Thanks for any suggestions or help you can offer.
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    The problem with those seats is that some tools tend to bottom out at the back of the valve, before fully engaging. If your valve is a typical like PP, and you used an un-modified 3-step wrench or tapered wrench, that is how you damaged the hole.
    At this point, a #6 Easy-out may work. I think some of the other guys may have other hints. Not that installing a new pressure balanced valve is a bad idea...but you can save a lot of money for now if you can get the seats out.
  3. bpap

    bpap New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    MA
    Thanks for the suggestion. Is there a #6 Easy-out that is longer than a typical one, which I think is usually just 3 inches or so long? I suppose I can look around to see what is available. I would need one that was about 5 inches long just to reach in far enough to access the seat and have a little extra to grab onto. As you also indicate, the plumber did mention that there was the risk of bottoming out at the back of the valve (and possibly doing even more damage).

    And yes, the other aspect is that I think it would be a few hundred dollars to install the pressure-balanced valve vs a few dollars for a new seat.

    If there are any other hints or tips from others out there, please let me know. Thanks.
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,271
    Location:
    New England
    Many screw extraction devices can use an extension from a socket wrench set, or if a weird size, an extension with a socket on it (you'd need a 12-point socket to engage the square head). Sometimes, you have to grind the end off the thing so it can fully engage before the end pokes a hole out the back of the valve. There are some valves with multiple handles - volume, temp, divertor, but most are single handle as it's less expensive to meet the anti-scald requirements and pretty trim and handles cost more to produce the more you have.
  5. bpap

    bpap New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    MA
    OK, thanks, I think a socket wrench with extension would work. I'm not sure I would be able to grind off the end as I assume an extractor is made of some sort of hardened steel. I'm guessing some sort of special grinder would be needed?

    I really would like to keep what I already have in place and working. It seems like a shame to completely replace something that has worked for so long because of one small part.
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,309
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If you have a "tempering" valve, that makes the three handle legal.
    You can dial them from 75 to 120 degrees

    It mixes hot and cold, blending the output.

    It's becoming very hard to find anyone making a three handle valve anymore. Sometimes it's better to bite the bullet and pick up something that looks old or traditional, and has the temperature protection built in.
  7. bpap

    bpap New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    MA
    Thanks for the response. I've always been a bit unclear on exactly why separate controls are not allowed. I am pretty sure I do have a mixing/tempering valve just off the boiler connected to the hot water line, and the water never gets extremely hot even when I have only hot on. I have included a photo. In that case would it be possible to replace the entire valve if the seat cannot be removed??? The plumber that looked at it had indicated this was not an option because it would be against code. But perhaps if I show him there is already a mixing valve in place it would be ok? Let me know if I am incorrect about the image below being a mixing/tempering valve.

    mixing.jpg
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,271
    Location:
    New England
    I think, to qualify, there must be a tempering valve for the specific fixture, not for the whole house (although that is also a good idea and required where I live). The valve at the WH outlet is typically set around 120-degrees F, the safety stop for a tub/shower is usually 105-degrees or so (but can be overridden). That extra 15-degrees or so can mean the difference of being scalded or not. Children and older people have thinner skin and can get second degree burns at 120-degrees.
  9. bpap

    bpap New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    MA
    OK, got it. Thanks for the information about the tempering valve being required for the specific fixture. In that case is it possible to simply add another tempering valve for the hot water control in the shower/bath and resolve the issue that way?
  10. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,309
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    If the tempering valve prevents scalding, you're Golden.

    My mothers 95. I installed her's at the water heater in case she takes a bath.
    She also has pressure balanced showers, but that's no help if she uses the deep tub. That's what the tempering valve was for.
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,271
    Location:
    New England
    That low a water temp is insufficient for things like the dishwasher (unless it has a water heating feature, some do) which doesn't work well unless the water is like 130-degrees or so. Most people don't use hot in the washing machine, but 105 won't make even the warm setting very warm. So, from a practical point, a whole house tempering valve may not be the greatest solution for solving the bath fixture, even if code isn't impacted.
  12. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,309
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Most tankless heaters can't be set above 120 degrees.
    Taking a 50 gallon tank heater, setting it at 160 degrees and then tempering it down to 120, makes it seem like a 75 gallon tank.

    My dishwasher and my mothers both have high temperature water heating for the dishwasher. And washing with warm water has never been in issue.
    Some people prefer to wash with cold.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
  13. bpap

    bpap New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    MA
    Just to be clear. When you say "you're Golden". Do you mean it in a general sense as far as safety, which is good of course? Or are you saying that with the whole house tempering valve in place I don't need to have an additional tempering valve for the specific fixture (the hot water valve at the bath/shower in this case) to meet code.

    Thanks.
  14. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,309
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Gold is good.

    UPC 414.5
    Limitation of Hot Water in Bathtubs and Whirlpool Bathtubs. The maximum hot water temperature discharging from the bathtub and whirlpool bathtub filler shall be limited to 120 degrees F, by a device that conforms to ASSE 1070 or CSA B125.3. The water heater thermostat shall not be considered a control for meeting this provision.

    UPC 418.0 Mentions pressure balance, thermostatic, or combination pressure balance/thermostatic mixing to prevent scalding and shower shock. And again mentions a 120 degree limit.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013
  15. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,271
    Location:
    New England
    The advantage of a modern pressure balance or thermstatically controlled valve is that should there be a condition that disrupts the flow on one side or the other, the temperature doesn't change much. On a pressure balanced valve, a sliding valve called a spool valve moves towards the low-pressure side, shutting down some of the flow from the higher side, maintaining the relative volumes of the hot and cold which keeps the temp fairly even. A thermostatically controlled valve uses various means to maintain the outlet temperature based on varying inputs. A tempering valve external to this arrangement will limit the max temperature that can be released, but will not prevent the potential shock of going from 'normal' showering temperature to a potentially near max or quite cold spurt. that is where a modern anti-scald valve comes into play...it is safer since the shock of a wide temperature variation can be as disruptive as an overtemp situation.

    So, limiting max temp is only part of the safety issue, but may be enough to pass local code inspection. Maximum safety calls for a newer valve...your level of comfort may vary.
  16. bpap

    bpap New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    MA
    Just getting ready to try an EZ out to remove the seat. Would it be reasonable to spray something like PB Blaster on it ahead of time in case it is corroded into place and to help loosen it up. Thanks for all the help to date.
  17. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    My first question would be "How could you 'round' out a square opening in the seat if you had any kind of wrench that fit the opening". I have seen it happen with hex openings, but never with a square one. I would not say it could not be removed until I tried it myself, because I have never had to give up on one yet.
  18. bpap

    bpap New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    MA
    I don't know exactly how I did it, but I did. Looking back, my best guess is that I used the hex shaped side of the seat wrench instead of the square side when I first tried to remove the seat. I put a good amount of force on it when I initially tried to remove the seat. It held pretty firm at first and then all of sudden it let go and I was able to turn the seat wrench, as if I had loosened the seat. I then realized as I slowly kept turning that the seat was not coming out, I was just slowly turning the seat wrench in the rounded out opening. I suspect I made some foolish and stupid error in my first attempt to remove the seat. I could post a picture if that would help.
  19. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,271
    Location:
    New England
    If the taper is too long, and instead of bottoming out tight in the seat, it bottoms out at the back of the valve, the edges can act like a reamer, and mess up the hole. IF it is fully seated and tight (I guess that's redundent!), it's unlikely you could ream out the seat unless you were turing it the wrong way.
  20. bpap

    bpap New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    MA
    Right, its possible it bottom out in the back of the valve and I did not realize it at the time, and that it was not full seated/tight in the square opening. I was turning counterclockwise. This is all good information, as so far I have only tried (and messed up) the hot water valve seat.

    Any opinion on using PB Blaster in case it is corroded in place, or is that very unlikely? My only concern using is that I assume any extra will get flushed out when I turn the water back on. I dont want to take a shower later with any of the PB Blaster mixed with the water, obviously.

    Thanks.
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