replacing OLD tub handles

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by pathetic-newbie, Feb 18, 2007.

  1. pathetic-newbie

    pathetic-newbie New Member

    Feb 18, 2007
    Hello wicked-smart guys and gals :) I'm sure this question has been answered in some form or another about a zillion times, but since I'm so new at this, I can't apply it to my problem, so please have patience with me...

    Here's my problem. I bought an old house (20's era) with icky bathrooms. I replaced the sink and toilet with my father's help, but decided to leave the nice, old, big tubs, and just refinish them. However, I've encountered a problem trying to replace the handles. All I really wanted to do is replace the yucky old acrylic trailer-looking handles with some of the nice cross-style porcelain handles, to match the ones I got for the lavatory. I couldn't figure out how to do it, so a friend of my dad's (who used to be a plumber/handyman, but he's pretty old now, so I don't know if I trust his opinion) took a look for me, and said that it was IMPOSSIBLE. He bought some replacement universal handles that were the same old cheap looking acrylic. I went to the SAME store and bought some "universal" handles that are cross-style, but he told me that *those* universals won't work, without going into the wall behind the tub (which is accesible through the other side) and replacing all this stuff. Ok guys, I'm really broke from just buying a house and remodelling it :p Isn't there *any* kind of adapter I can use? I don't know any terminology, but it looks like I need something that the stem can go all the way through, and then is capped with a nut or something. I don't know if that makes any sense.

    Two bathrooms. One has three knobs (hot, cold, diverter) the other has two knobs, with the diverter on the spout. I don't know anything about what brand the stems and existing hardware are. I can go take some measurements or something if that would help you figure it out.

    If ya'll think this would work, I wouldn't mind buying two of these kits, and just discarding the third handle (or keeping for repairs, rather) on the bathroom without a handle diverter.

    If that's not appropriate, is there ANYTHING you guys can suggest? I don't care if it's kind of rigged up. Heck, I suggested somehow welding a part or something onto it, but the guy said nope. (By the time I would want to replace them again, I'll be in a financial position where I can just rip everything out and update anyway, so I don't care. I just want it ON there! Glue it on, weld it on, WHATEVER!)

    Hope you guys can help me. I know I'm wordy, sorry. Just trying to make it perfectly clear.

    Oh! Here is the universal cross handle that my handyman guy told me wouldn't work:
    [h=1]Danco 89255 Universal Cross Arm Handle, Brushed Nickel[/h]I kind of want to do it myself, but I wouldn't mind paying a plumber to just come out and put some adapters or something on, if I needed to. But I really want to avoid having to replace all this stuff in the wall.

    thanks in advance. Please use simple language in the reply ;)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2014
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    Faucet and shower handles are VERY unique to a specific brand and model. So-called unversal replacements almost always prove to be unversally unacceptable to completely unworkable. You have pretty much already found this out. They attach with flaky adapters, the lengths never are quite right, etc.

    Best bet is to TURN OFF THE MAIN WATER, then take out one of your hot or cold stems, for ID, take it and the old handle to the biggest plumbing supply house you can find, and possibly the counterman can ID them and give you proper manufacturer's direct replacements. On something that old, this is about as good as it gets.

    If you can access inside that wall, from the other side....such as through a bedroom or closet wall, you could have a plumber replace the entire valve. This would be your best bet.
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