I had quite the adventure yesterday.
Let’s just say that I have a very good understanding of how the plumbing in a shower and bathtub work now.
We had a drip in our daughter’s bathroom. Also, the water control handle was messed up because it wouldn’t stop where it should. You would turn it and the water would stop and then if you kept turning it the water would turn on again. The big problem was the drip, though, so I decided to try to fix it. I got out the tools and started taking things apart. I figured I would get to a base control and then tighten it to stop the drip. Then I would see if I could fix the handle or get a new one. Well, it doesn’t work that way. I started taking it apart, and when I was done unscrewing this bezel thingy – bam!! A fire hose started shooting across the room! You see, I never turned off the water. I didn’t realize how the whole system worked. I do now…
So water is shooting across the tub and slamming into the wall – spraying into the bathroom. I find the cartridge that used to be in the hole that the water is shooting out of and try to shove it back in. Now I’m covered in water and wide awake to how that doesn’t work. Then I grab the shower curtain and try to block the water from shooting all over the floor. While this is going on, my wife is napping on the couch downstairs and my daughter is mulling about. None of this alerts them that there is anything wrong, so I start screaming to them that I need help. Once they get up there, I have them take over shower curtain duty while I go try to figure out how to shut off the water. I had an idea how to do this, but I never had to do it before. I run to where our hot water heater is. There are three pipes with valves on them and another one coming out of the water heater. What do I do? I don’t remember what I did, but for some reason I wasn’t convinced it was working, so I went outside in the yard to where the water main is. The metal cover is overgrown with grass, of course, so I get a shovel and pry it open. The metal cover has wires coming from it down to the piping and the pipes don’t have anything that looks like a valve. The wires are obviously for a meter and it looks like the pipes need some kind of device to shut off the water. So that’s not going to work. I go back to the hot water heater to try again. This time I figure it out, turn the right valves in the right direction and shut off the water. Whew.
After we clean up all the water on the floor, I decide to go to the Home Depot and get a kit for a new shower fixture. I end up getting one where I will need to replace the shower head and the tub spigot, too, to make it all match. Why not, right? Well, not so fast. The cartridge for the new system wouldn’t fit properly in the pipe housing of the old system. I would need to install the new pipe housing. That would require cutting a bigger hole in our wall, connecting pipes, mounting the housing – the instructions talked about soldering. I can’t do all that. Especially not that night. The water is shut off. We need the water back on. Do I need to call plumber? I don’t want to call a plumber…
Maybe I can put the old one back together. There are pieces everywhere. How does it all fit back together? I found a black gasket plug and a spring. What is that for? There is also a round gasket that is broke. What is that for? Omg…
So I do some research on my phone and find a diagram online of the pieces and how they fit together. Imagine that. The black gasket plug and spring? There are supposed to be two of them. I’m guessing the other one went down the drain. So I put it all back together not using the black gasket plug and spring, and the water won’t shut off. The handle stops now so there’s progress, but the water won’t shut off. I figure the black plug and spring are important. So I take it apart again, put the black gasket plug and spring where it should go and put it back together again. This time when I turn the handle to shut the water off – the water decreases. Further progress. I really need another black gasket plug and spring. How in the world am I going to get another one. I decide my best bet is to go back to Home Depot and try to rig something together. I try – and don’t really find a solution in the nuts and bolts aisle. I then go over the the plumbing area and look around and eventually asked a guy. After we all have a big laugh at what an imbecile I am, he leads me to a shower supply area – and can you believe it? They have a small box of black gasket plugs and springs for sale for Delta showers at the extremely reasonable price of $3.50. I about hugged the guy.
I race home, put the black gasket plugs and springs in the right holes, and put it all back together. And, it works. The water shuts off! And no drip. Except for the one standing there looking at what he did.
So, what did I learn? The black gaskets and springs seal the water from the hot and cold pipes when the cartridge is turned by the handle to shut off the water. There is a notch in the cartridge housing that the bezel that goes over it needs to line up with in order to stop the handle when you are shutting off the water. The original drip was caused by one of the black gaskets being worn and not sealing properly.
Oh yeah. And TURN OFF THE WATER BEFORE WORKING ON THE SHOWER PLUMBING.
Or just call a plumber.