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OT. Partially plugged tub and shower valve

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  • OT. Partially plugged tub and shower valve

    Good Morning,

    I am having problems with a tub/shower valve. It is at a rental property that has been rented for about 4 1/2 years.

    When we bought the house the hot water ran slow from this valve. i took the valve out and ran a wire into the port where the water goes horizontally to the but filler and shower pipe. It belched out some crud and worked fine after that.

    When I first found out about the slow running water I decided to change the water filter. It is a whole house filter. When I went to put the new one in I found that the tenant took the filter out and didn't put a new one back in.

    I've tried running a wire into it like last time and it didn't make any difference. If I take the water valves out and turn the water on it shoots out like a fire hose so I know it is getting water to the valves. The house is ready to rent except for this one problem.

    Any ideas? I'm at wits end. I have tried tapping on the valve to try to loosen up any crud but that didn't help either.

    Thanks for your ideas.

    Brian
    OPEN EYES, OPEN EARS, OPEN MIND

    THINK HARDER

    BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

    MY NAME IS BRIAN AND I AM A TOOLOHOLIC

  • #2
    Are they rocked up with calcium? Can you soak the valves in phosphoric acid after removing them from the plumbing.

    Comment


    • #3
      Maybe I'm missing something..., but why not just replace the valve?
      Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

      Comment


      • #4
        And there are two levels of replacement. If it's not 50 years old, you may be able to get a factory new cartridge that slides right into the valve body. Minimal downtime.

        If that doesn't fix it, put a new one in that has a tempering feature to greatly reduce risk of scald injuries. Who wants lawsuits anyway.....yeah, nobody.

        Comment


        • #5
          This is a two knob valve, not a cartridge type of replacement. I'd gladly just put a new valve in but I don't want to have to demo the whole tub enclosure to do it. I can't do it from the back side either. I already checked that out.

          I have one of those little cameras that is on the end of a wire and plugs into a smart phone and I'm going to try looking with that and see if it is calcium or some other obstruction.

          Brian
          OPEN EYES, OPEN EARS, OPEN MIND

          THINK HARDER

          BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

          MY NAME IS BRIAN AND I AM A TOOLOHOLIC

          Comment


          • #6
            What type of impurities do you have in your water? That will determine what type of cleaner you need to use. What I don't understand is why you can't replace the valves. If you can take them off as you said you tested the flow to the valves then why can't you replace them?
            Location: The Black Forest in Germany

            How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Black Forest View Post
              What type of impurities do you have in your water? That will determine what type of cleaner you need to use. What I don't understand is why you can't replace the valves. If you can take them off as you said you tested the flow to the valves then why can't you replace them?
              I took the valves out and left the valve body in place. The whole unit is behind a tub enclosure and i am trying to avoid tearing the whole thing apart. The hot water side was plugged partly up when we bought the house and pushing a wire into it loosened some rusty looking crud and it worked fine after that. The tenant never said anything about the shower being a problem.
              OPEN EYES, OPEN EARS, OPEN MIND

              THINK HARDER

              BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

              MY NAME IS BRIAN AND I AM A TOOLOHOLIC

              Comment


              • #8
                I assume that when you take off the shower head the hot water still runs slowly.

                My first idea would be to run a steel "electric wire fish tape" down from the top to see if you can loosen up any crap. However... It sounds like the pipes are galvanized iron if you are getting rusty crud. Doing anything mechanically may cause a marginal pipe to bust, leaving you with a leak in the wall. You could pump some CLR down the shower pipe, but that may also dissolve the calcium that is sealing up any leaks in the pipe.

                If the hot water runs well with the shower head off, look for a screen somewhere in the shower head itself.

                I hate plumbing. Good luck.


                Dan
                At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

                Location: SF East Bay.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Black Forest View Post
                  What type of impurities do you have in your water? That will determine what type of cleaner you need to use. What I don't understand is why you can't replace the valves. If you can take them off as you said you tested the flow to the valves then why can't you replace them?
                  When I was living in Michigan (Lansing area) while working on a two year project, we contractors referred to the water as liquid rock. Heavy with iron and calcium.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Why not de-calc them using some automatic coffee maker tablets. Boil some water, put in the tablets and drop in your valve bodies. That would be an easy first step.
                    Location: The Black Forest in Germany

                    How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by danlb View Post
                      I assume that when you take off the shower head the hot water still runs slowly.

                      My first idea would be to run a steel "electric wire fish tape" down from the top to see if you can loosen up any crap. However... It sounds like the pipes are galvanized iron if you are getting rusty crud. Doing anything mechanically may cause a marginal pipe to bust, leaving you with a leak in the wall. You could pump some CLR down the shower pipe, but that may also dissolve the calcium that is sealing up any leaks in the pipe.

                      If the hot water runs well with the shower head off, look for a screen somewhere in the shower head itself.

                      I hate plumbing. Good luck.


                      Dan
                      Thanks for the response Dan. I hadn't thought about using a fish tape. I've got one and will try that next. I tried a piece of #12 solid copper wire and it wouldn't make the curve of the 1/2" copper elbow.
                      If that doesn't work I'm planning on trying to clean it with toilet bowl cleaner like I use for cleaning faucet parts and screens.
                      OPEN EYES, OPEN EARS, OPEN MIND

                      THINK HARDER

                      BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

                      MY NAME IS BRIAN AND I AM A TOOLOHOLIC

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by reggie_obe View Post
                        When I was living in Michigan (Lansing area) while working on a two year project, we contractors referred to the water as liquid rock. Heavy with iron and calcium.
                        It depends a lot on where you are in Michigan but here in West Michigan we have pretty decent water. Iron of about 2ppm at our house. A softener takes all the hardness and iron and the water is good.
                        OPEN EYES, OPEN EARS, OPEN MIND

                        THINK HARDER

                        BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

                        MY NAME IS BRIAN AND I AM A TOOLOHOLIC

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Black Forest View Post
                          Why not de-calc them using some automatic coffee maker tablets. Boil some water, put in the tablets and drop in your valve bodies. That would be an easy first step.
                          Today I was talking to a buddy about this and told him that I figured out that I could put the valves back together, shut off the water and cap the tub filler and pour an acid solution down from the shower head spout. Looks like great minds think alike. Cheers.
                          OPEN EYES, OPEN EARS, OPEN MIND

                          THINK HARDER

                          BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

                          MY NAME IS BRIAN AND I AM A TOOLOHOLIC

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Deposits may be the issue, but with no filter, AND a problem, I would suspect actual sand / small gravel, up to 1 or 2 mm in size, getting carried up and jamming in the valve. Unless you see deposits all over the place, it is less likely that they would target the valve, absent some sort of electrolytic thing happening, which is not typical of bronze valves.

                            We get that sand crud, especially if there has been any work on the supply pipes within a mile or two of the house. Usually gets right through and ends up in the aerator nozzle on a sink, but might stick in the shower valve, I suppose, depending on what type it is.

                            The two faucet ones are illegal here now (I like them, and our tiled shower has two sets, so I really do not want a plumber pounding holes in the tile to put in a single handle as required by code).
                            CNC machines only go through the motions.

                            Ideas expressed may be mine, or from anyone else in the universe.
                            Not responsible for clerical errors. Or those made by lay people either.
                            Number formats and units may be chosen at random depending on what day it is.
                            I reserve the right to use a number system with any integer base without prior notice.
                            Generalizations are understood to be "often" true, but not true in every case.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              While you are at it, Brian, back flushing from the shower head mount to the valve is a good idea after you are done. You can make an adapter for a garden hose easily enough. The idea is to get all the loosened crap out of the pipe, otherwise it might go right back up into the shower head when you reassemble.

                              Dan
                              At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

                              Location: SF East Bay.

                              Comment

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