Apparently the bathtub faucet wasn’t content with that, because this morning, the situation changed such that I COULDN’T ignore it — the faucet WOULDN’T SHUT OFF! (at all! hot water gushing full-stream out of the faucet, even when it was turned all the way off!)
Luckily, the plumbing situation is in a little better shape upstairs, in my rental unit (I tend to keep things in a little more ship-shape condition for my renters, in hopes of avoiding ridiculous situations such as the one at hand.)
So. Water (hot water, no less), gushing full-stream out of the “closed” faucet. I went downstairs to see if there was a shut-off… I did find one shut-off near the tub, but unfortunately it was on a cold water pipe. I attempted to shut off the hot water at the water heater (seems logical enough) — unfortunately, the only hot water shutoff ONLY shuts off the hot water going upstairs to the second unit… nothing shuts off the water supply to my tub except the main shutoff to the whole house. Very nicely done, person who put in the downstairs bathroom without bothering to get a permit and inspection from the city…
Hoping to avoid paying a ton of money to an emergency plumber (and shutting off the water to the whole house, upstairs and down), I tried one other strategy…
I pried off the faucet handle to the hot water (harder than it sounds on these old fixtures), opened it up as far as it would go (the would-be hot water pouring out… no longer hot because the water heater couldn’t keep up). I spread as much plumbers grease in the stem as I could, and closed it again, as far as it would go… which was significantly closer to “closed” than it was before! I repeated, and now could get the faucet back to a steady drip/trickle (about where it was before this morning’s situation).
I was quite proud of my success, but promptly called a plumber. They’re coming out tomorrow, to install shutoffs and see what they can do about the leaky faucet.
The lesson learned here? Problems (especially known problems) are best dealt with when they are small, before they turn into bigger, more urgent (and more expensive) problems. Hopefully tomorrow won’t be too expensive… but I think that shutoff valves are probably a good investment 🙂