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Thread: Faucet stem unscrews, but won't come out

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Seawolf's Avatar
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    Default Faucet stem unscrews, but won't come out

    I've replaced the faucet stems on the hot and cold faucets on my bath tub, using the shower valve socket wrench. However when I try to remove the diverter stem, the stem unscrews to the point where the stem is all wobbly like it should come out, but no matter how many times I rotate the stem it will not come out.

    It's like rotating a bolt counter clockwise forever that never comes out.

    It will retighten and function properly. (Its present state. I've turned the water back on and there are no leaks).

    Incidentally, I used a handle puller to pull off the handles which were stuck on. Could I have harmed the threads which is causing this? My feeling is it's a thread problem.

    The junction is recessed in the wall so there is no access. I've tried rotating the stem with the valve in open and closed positions.

    Any suggestions on how to remove this stem?

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    We would like a picture of where you're at.
    Two things come to mind:
    > diverter stems have a back-seat washer, and those sometime get splayed out and can be tight. Usually just needs a lot of wiggle.

    > if the wall is tiled, and the tile guy was "too cute" there may not be a hole large enough in the tile for the largest diameter of the stem to come through. If that is the case, you can "worry" the hole out carefully with a small cold chisel.

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    DIY Junior Member Seawolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo View Post
    We would like a picture of where you're at.
    Two things come to mind:
    > diverter stems have a back-seat washer, and those sometime get splayed out and can be tight. Usually just needs a lot of wiggle.

    > if the wall is tiled, and the tile guy was "too cute" there may not be a hole large enough in the tile for the largest diameter of the stem to come through. If that is the case, you can "worry" the hole out carefully with a small cold chisel.
    I've tried shaking it. The hole is clear. Sorry for the ugly photo.

    Maybe I should add that I used a dremel to grind away tile along the hole's circumference so that there would be the necessary clearance to get the socket in. I did this on the other faucets with no problem. I don't think I could have damaged anything.


    Last edited by Seawolf; 09-27-2009 at 03:43 PM.

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    DIY Junior Member Seawolf's Avatar
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    I guess I'll just put her back together and hope in the future she doesn't leak. (I'll replace the flange and handle that came with rebuild kit.) The only solution I see involves breaching the wall.
    Last edited by Seawolf; 09-27-2009 at 04:30 PM.

  5. #5
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Please don't breach the wall. YOU CAN FIX THIS. Price Pfister Verve.

    Can't tell for sure from your pic. Did you remove just the small outermost nut....the stem packing?? You need to turn the whole body, the part that you need the socket to go into the wall a little, although yours may be out far enought to put channel locks on it.


    If you are in fact turning the main body, (a) make sure to put the fully counter clockwise ( as if using SHOWER). (b) either it is not clearing the tile, which is close, or it just needs more wiggle.

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    DIY Junior Member Seawolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo View Post
    Please don't breach the wall. YOU CAN FIX THIS. Price Pfister Verve.

    Can't tell for sure from your pic. Did you remove just the small outermost nut....the stem packing?? You need to turn the whole body, the part that you need the socket to go into the wall a little, although yours may be out far enought to put channel locks on it.


    If you are in fact turning the main body, (a) make sure to put the fully counter clockwise ( as if using SHOWER). (b) either it is not clearing the tile, which is close, or it just needs more wiggle.
    No, I didn't mess with the packing nut. I'm rotating the whole body counter clockwise, as I did on hot and cold. Could there be reverse threads on the end? I can't test that now as I put everything back together, and it is a PITA to turn off the water supply-- (my next project).

    Can I work on the diverter stem without turning off the water supply as long as the hot and cold are turned off?
    Last edited by Seawolf; 09-27-2009 at 08:12 PM.

  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default valve

    If those are the original handles and you have a PricePfister valve, that hole in the tile is MUCH too small to remove the diverter stem unit. It has to be the same size as the ones around the hot and cold stems because it uses the same sized unit, even though the stem is different.

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    DIY Junior Member Seawolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    If those are the original handles and you have a PricePfister valve, that hole in the tile is MUCH too small to remove the diverter stem unit. It has to be the same size as the ones around the hot and cold stems because it uses the same sized unit, even though the stem is different.
    The handles in the photo are the replacement handles that came with the Danco Tub and Shower Remodeling Kit for the Price Pfister Verve.

    The stem is not completely unscrewing from the female fitting. (I believe due a threading malfunction.) The hole size is definitely not the problem. I was able to remove and replace the hot and cold stems without incident with similar sized holes.
    Last edited by Seawolf; 09-27-2009 at 08:15 PM.

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default diverter

    In that case you must not have a PricePfister valve because they require a hole that is almost 1 3/8" is diameter. Without knowing the type of faucet you have we cannot tell you how to fix it, but American Standard, for one, has a sleeve on its stem that can corrode into the body and only removes with great difficulty.

  10. #10
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Although the stem wrench is the same size, the "business" end of the diverter stem is just slightly larger than the hot and cold, so they can not be interchanged. With a flashlight, you should be able to see what is hanging up. I still think the tile is too close. There are no other threads in there. Try turning the handle all the way tight to CCW ( shower ) position to lock up the back washer.


    The problem might also be this: the back seat washer is a ridid nylon washer. The sometime break in half. You could have a piece of that getting in the way. No downside to pulling harder!

    And. YES, you can work on the diverter without turning off the main water.
    Last edited by jimbo; 09-28-2009 at 07:49 AM.

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member Seawolf's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies and help.

    I pulled harder and it came out. I guess there was some obstruction that I didn't notice.

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member Seawolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    In that case you must not have a PricePfister valve because they require a hole that is almost 1 3/8" is diameter. Without knowing the type of faucet you have we cannot tell you how to fix it, but American Standard, for one, has a sleeve on its stem that can corrode into the body and only removes with great difficulty.
    Just as a post script, I measured the diameter of the diverter hole. It looked to be like 1.5".

    I can state with certainty that I now have the Chinese version of the Price Pfister Verve. China is stamped into the brass. The stems that I replaced had USA stamped onto them.
    Last edited by Seawolf; 09-28-2009 at 10:23 PM.

  13. #13
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default Pp

    Now to make you feel real bad, if I had repaired that faucet I would have thrown the stems away and installed 1/4 turn lifetime ceramic seat stems and gotten rid of all the maintenance problems that come with washers and seats.

  14. #14
    DIY Junior Member Seawolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    Now to make you feel real bad, if I had repaired that faucet I would have thrown the stems away and installed 1/4 turn lifetime ceramic seat stems and gotten rid of all the maintenance problems that come with washers and seats.
    Well, there's always a next time!

    Incidentally, there was a broken washer in the recess above the seat. Maybe that contributed or caused the impedence. I don't know.
    Last edited by Seawolf; 09-29-2009 at 11:33 PM.

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