When it rains it pours (Out of my bathtub faucet, that is. It won’t shut off!)

I could consider myself unlucky, however, I think that the current plumbing problem is somehow related to the last one… Ever since the plumbing catastrophe that happened last week, my bathtub hot water faucet has mysteriously developed a drip. Could be coincidence, but I think that it has something to do with the pressure of things being clogged, plunged, etc. I’ve been choosing to ignore the drip, as the fixtures on the bathtub are fairly old and difficult to work with.

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 🙂

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3 thoughts on “When it rains it pours (Out of my bathtub faucet, that is. It won’t shut off!)

  1. I asked my loverboy, Michael, who has had quite a lot of experience with remodeling and everything that goes with it. He says your faucet probably just needs a new washer. But, the shutoffs are a big priority, too!

  2. Loverboy is right! The washer was almost completely worn away. I felt a bit foolish for calling the plumber out; normally a leaking faucet is something I would attempt to handle myself…somehow I thought that a “gushing” faucet was a different story. Perhaps I’m just gunshy after my recent plumbing catastrophes…

    Funny thing is, the plumber actually talked me out of installing the shutoffs — since the faucet was repairable (just needed a new washer and packing material), and since the bathroom is slated for a remodel in the next year or so, he told me that it would be cheaper to just wait and install the shutoffs as part of that job.

  3. Same thing happened to me with my bathtub. I ignored it and ignored it until the drip was so loud that the guy living downstairs said something. I never knew he could hear it.

    When I finally sold the place it was on the buyer’s “repair” list so I had to fix it. Cost my $8 to fix it.

    So stupid cause I lived in the place for 1 year just dealing with the drip cause I was too lazy to fix something I knew I had to fix eventually.

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