A Lesson In Physics (Relearned)

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You might call it Hydrostatics, I guess, and you may have seen in on Carl Sagan's Cosmos.

So, about a month ago, the hot water supply hose that goes from the valve to the Washing Machine went bad. No biggie. I just ran down to True Value and bought a set of these wicked cool looking flexible supply hoses to replace the old ones. They look like silver braid and one has blue chevrons on it and the other has red chevrons on it. Which, by the way, I didn't pay attention to until after I had installed them exactly backwards. So at the Dragon's Den, blue means hot and red means cold. But I digress.

The old hot water supply hose was pretty much rust-welded to the valve. No biggie. I have Craftsman Robo-Grip pliers (they're like Channel-Loks only much cooler), and Sufficient strength to wield them. So, I get my pliers on the hose fitting and put the force to it. S-l-o-w-l-y, the fitting starts to unthread, and then stops.

This is when I discover that I either don't know my own strength, or that not enough solder was used when this Jerry-Rigged nightmare was installed. Not anticipating that the plumbing would come apart under modest torque got me wet. Reaally wet. Of course, part of that is because I didn't turn off the hot water valve coming out of the hot water tank. Didn't think I needed to and was reminded of what assuming does.

Anyways, I shut off the hot water, desolder the bad stuff, and plum up a new 1/4 turn valve. I hook up the new supply lines, and all is well. Plumbing is like rebuilding a car engine. If you rebuild the bottom of the motor, you're just best off to have the heads redone, replace the cam and rebuild the top of the motor while you're at it. Which, I learned the hard way years ago, but that's a different story. I only bring this up because it's relevant. I (briefly) debated replacing the cold water supply valve while I was at it, but I only had the one valve, and True Value is TWO WHOLE MILES from my house, so rather than take such a monumental excursion, I let it be. Much to my dismay after the fact. The top of the motor was about to fail.

Last Sunday, I'm sitting here at my PC browsing the Web and prolly reading SDC when I hear the Six Words That No Husband Ever Wants To Hear. At least no sane husband. And no, those words are not "(Insert Name Here), you are now cut off."

"Honey, you better come down here", shouts my wife from the basement. I know already that this ain't good. Now, she's deathly afraid of spiders, but had it been a Spider Issue, she would have been screaming maniacally, so I knew it was nothing so easy to deal with. This was real Trouble.

That cold water valve that I had decided to not replace due to the gargantuan effort involved in driving 2 miles and spending $7 wasn't just leaking. Water was pouring out of it. I told my wife to go ahead and finish the laundry up, shut the valve off and that I would fix it "next weekend" (meaning today). The valve started leaking like a sieve when opened probably because the old supply hose hooked to it was only slightly less rust-welded on and required only slightly less excessive torque to remove. I figured I damaged it somehow. Turns out that it was far worse than that, but we haven't quite reached that part of the story. Yes, believe it or not, we're actually headed towards the topic of the subject.

Thanks for hanging in there and reading. Or in the case of the dude that thinks posts are too long here, there is more pain and suffering in your future, Junior. I ain't near done yet. :twisted:

I went to True Value and got the stuff I needed to replace the valve. This morning, I went downstairs, shut off the water supply where it comes into the house. I disconnected the supply line from the valve and bled off the water in the line. I lit my torch, and started to heat up the copper fitting to pull the old valve assembly off. A good 10 or 15 minutes went by and a kept getting steam and water coming out of the old valve.

Fortunately, my wife had by then gotten up and out of bed. I heard her milling about and not long after that, a flood of water (accompanied by the sound of the drain stack flowing with toilet water) came out of the pipe I was heating up. And yes, like the last time, I got wet. For a moment, I was seized by terror. The main valve that lets water into the house was shut off and I had water flowing full-out.

Fortunately, it only took about 3 seconds (which can be an eternity when you're in a panic) for Carl Sagan (well, actually Empedocles)
to come to my rescue. Yes, yes, here comes the money shot. Finally. Take a straw, dip it into a pitcher and then put a fingertip or your thumb over the top of the straw and pull it out. Almost like magic, the water stays in the straw. Fascinating thing to teach a 4 year old. Or a 49 year old guy replacing a washing machine cold water supply valve.

I realized that I hadn't opened a cold water faucet upstairs to allow air into the system to "take the thumb off the straw" in order to completely drain the line I was working on. With a single (and inelegant) flush of the toilet, my wife solved a problem I hadn't figured out yet, and the best part is that I had to explain to her how she helped me. I might have been there another hour before I figured it out.

SO now, both valves have been replaced, and while I was typing this, I avoided the next lesson in Physics I might have had to relate here. Before I realized that I had to actually shut off the main valve where the water line comes into the house, I had shut off the cold water supply to the hot water tank. I did this because I remembered that when I did the hot water supply, I hadn't shut the valve off and when I got showered, it was with very hot water.

I also forgot to turn the cold water valve back on, and when my wife went to do laundry today, I would have been testing the pressure differential required to implode a pressure vessel (hot water tank).

In the end, it's not a bad thing to replace a 40 year old valve. Of the original 1/2" opening, mineral buildup had constricted the opening to about 1/8". Talk about atherosclerosis. However, I also discovered that it's always best to make sure that the supply hose fitting is actually TIGHT because you can get leaks that make you think the valve went bad.

Welcome to my world. :)



A pic at the moment of impact with the above floor's trapped water came gushing out would have been priceless. :)

Those old hose connections are a pain. Anytime you have old connections like that, which aren't really designed to be used very much, there's usually trouble. Many of today's DIY stores have oodles of friction-coupling type connections and hide the good solder-joint connection stuff. Sure, using a friction coupling is much easier.. until it poofs 6mo later.


Any DIY plumbing project is an adventure....

Not the good kind...


a_lost_packet_":1ckgliwv said:

A pic at the moment of impact with the above floor's trapped water came gushing out would have been priceless. :)

This image came to my mind


and True Value is TWO WHOLE MILES from my house,

What was your opinion when the ISS needed a new ammonia pump :lol:


dragon04":fwt5aftn said:
So, about a month ago, the hot water supply hose that goes from the valve to the Washing Machine went bad. No biggie. I just ran down to True Value....

I think it's great that you attempted, perservered and then got the job done all by yourself!



Thought I'd post my experience....so far :)

I must thank dragon for describing his tale of woe; it made me proceed very cautiously....which was a very good thing.

Basic problems:

Tub has 3 valves, Hot, Cold, and a shower diverter knob.

Primary problem was the shower diverter leaked like crazy...turn on the shower, 50% of the water still goes into the tub. Secondary problem was leakage from around all 3 shafts, particularly the hot, when water turned on. Minor tertiarary problem, drip, drip, drip from hot water tap (which of course is worse than a cold water drip, since it costs money to heat the water).

The process started a few weeks ago, since none of this stuff has been disassembled in 30 years since the house was built. Getting the knobs off took a long time. Days and days of soaking the screws in Liquid Wrench. Finally, got em out. Did the knobs come off? Of course not! More soaking, wiggling, banging, etc. Days of it. Finally got the hot and cold knobs off, but then the SO needed to take a bath, so put them back on. Hahahahahaha. The interior of the knob where it meets the splined brass valve shaft had turned to mush... i.e. no turnee the shaft, knob rotates freely. 2 trips to Lowes (unsuccessful) to get knobs. Finally, the local ACE hardware had them, so I could at least turn the valves without a wrench. A few days later I finally got the diverter knob off, and was very careful not to strip that as well.

OK, so get the trim off, and look at the valves. First, of course the tiles were installed after the valves, so not only was the big hex I needed to access recessed behind the tiles, the hole in the tile was waaaaay too small to get at it. Sigh...

OK, gently expand the hole size with a screwdriver and hammer so I can get at the nut. Great, right? Hahahahaha!!
Of course, I coudn't get an adjustable wrench on it, because it's behind the tiles, which (since the hole is small) would require tearing out a whole bunch of tiles, and being 30 years old, would never have found a color match. Ain't gonna happen, let's keep this a "simple" plumbing project. Hahahahaha! Well one of them was exposed enough that I could measure the size with a micrometer...looked like 7/8", so let me find some kind of socket... Hahahahah!!

GREAT PLUMBING SCAM: Plumbing fixtures are not 7/8" or 1", or 3/4". The sizes are in freakin' odd 32's of an inch!!!!

Like 29/32 (instead of 7/8 = 28/32), 31/32, , 1 3/32, etc. Most people don't have them and give up, so you call the plumber. Well, being a stubborn SOB, I decide to see if I can find the tool. Back to ACE. Have a "shower wrench" with 2 sizes, one on each end. "90% of fixtures are one of these sizes" Hahahaha! As you might expect by now, mine are in the other 10% :( Back to ACE, they took back the single shower wrench, and I bought a 5 tool package (10 different sizes) for $20.

Now I'm gonna get the valves out, but DRAGON ALERT DRAGON ALERT...be vewy vewy careful!!!! Don't break anything!!!!!!
More Liquid Wrench soak.

Finally get 'em out. Diverter problem, broken plastic ring where the valve seats in shower mode. No big deal.
Back to ACE. Forgot my glasses, trying to read the ACE parts compatibility book was comical. Had to ask a kid to read to me :oops:
Get new rubber (soft plastic) pieces for the drip drip problems. No big deal.
The shaft washer turns out to be a big deal :shock: :eek:
I can see it, but how the heck do you get it out????
Well, with a 30 year old one, you don't. I know, shocking, eh? I later find out that it's a rubber (or rather it was rubber 30 years ago) screw in collar.

They did have one replacement valve in stock (# 12 length, rather that the # 11 it measured on their handy dandy tool, which I could tell when I brought my glasses), no diverter. Bought that. Installed, fixed the problem.

Cranked down on the packing nut on the other 2 and those leaks stopped.

Finally, in QA mode now, everything still exposed (no trim yet) so I can check for leaks.

Total cost, Knobs ($10), valve ($15), washers ($3), 7 round trips to ACE ($12). Not having to call a plumber and not causing a disaster... PRICELESS!! :D

Thanx Dragon, despite your suffering, you done good sharing your story. I am in your debt.

BTW, kudos to my local ACE hardware store. VERY helpful, knowledable, polite, and customer friendly. I try and support my local stores rather than the mega stores. Well worth the effort, and the same distance.



So, I decided to fix a leaky faucet situation in a showertub with a diverter, similar to yours.

Pop off the knobs, find out that the valves were tiled over. Open up the hole a bit, find out I don't have a socket for the valves. Buy a valve socket (same dealie you got), remove the top casing of the valve and find out they are old fashioned cartridge valves.. Buy a cartridge-valve puller (two difference sizes and like an O-Ring puller) and then proceed to remove the cartridge valves. Cartridge puller shaft bends because the cartridge is frozen in place because it's older than I am... Second cartridge puller gets stripped trying to ease the valve out.

The heck with it.

Reseated the valve, dumped half a pound of plumber's putty behind the facing, put the knobs back on and sold the condo... :)



But, hey! I did pick up some new tools, so it wasn't a huge loss.

(Always love gettin' new gimcrackery for my tool boxes... Even if I'd only ever use it once. :) )


Yes I've let all my mechanically inclined friends (most with a Y chromosome) know that if they need such wrenches, I have a set to lend. Which I will need anyway when I attempt the next potential disaster, fixing the "frost proof" exterior faucet.
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