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Thread: Help identify my 3-handle tub fixture?

  1. #1
    DIY Member mc510's Avatar
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    Default Help identify my 3-handle tub fixture?

    I hope folks here can help me to identify the bathtub fixture in my "new" (to me) 1950 home. It looks like a basic Price Pfister job, including the PP Beaux Art escutcheons and handles, but I need to identify it real specific so that I can locate a correct packing nut for the diverter handle.

    I guess I should explain the situation, then describe the fixture. So, the diverter handle has no packing nut on it. Needless to say, water gushes out. The really special part is that some genius has packed a huge amount of grout in around the bonnet so that it's impossible to remove. So I need to find the correct packing nut, but I can't take the whole stem in to the hardware store with me. What I can do is remove the hot and cold stems (not grouted in place ... thank you, previous homeowner!), and I've attached a picture of one. Now here's the thing that's making me crazy: the packing nut from the hot and cold does not fit on the diverter ... the diverter appears to have a slightly smaller thread.

    I've taken the hot stem to every store in town, told my story, and gotten nothing but shrugs. Everyone says that all 3 packing nuts should be the same size. I'm starting to think that I'm crazy, but everytime I play with it I come away convinced that the diverter thread is indeed smaller.

    Okay, so that's my story. Anyone have any idea what I'm looking at here? Thanks in advance.
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    Last edited by mc510; 12-18-2009 at 06:54 PM.

  2. #2
    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    Chip the grout out with a small chisel. We do it all the time. Just use light taps with the hammer it will come out. Then replace the hole stem. It is a Price Pfister and the packing nuts are different.

    John

  3. #3
    DIY Member mc510's Avatar
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    Thanks John ... so the grout in there isn't unheard of? I was afraid that someone packed it in there to try to stop a leak that was hard to reach.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default stem

    I have never heard of anyone selling just packing nuts for faucets in the first place. I have never checked, nor had to, but as far as I know all three PP stems use the same nut. I will have to look at them when I go out to my truck later.

  5. #5
    DIY Member mc510's Avatar
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    well, i was able to buy just a hot/cold packing nut at a well-stocked local hardware store, but it doesn't fit on the diverter. But anyways, I'd be happy to replace the whole diverter stem, as long as it's safe to chip away the mortar that's packed into the wall cavity all around the bonnet. Johnjh2o1 says it's common, but I'm still a little skittish of chipping it away without knowing what it's doing there in the first place. Is this standard or at least common, and what's the grout doing there?

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Mortar around the valve doesn't do anything.

    There is now way a bit of grout is going to hold 60 PSI of pressure.

    Chip it away so you can get to the valve to repair it.

  7. #7
    DIY Member mc510's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone, I will do as you suggest and chip out the mortar so I can remove the whole stem. I'm still curious why it's there, though ... why would a competent plumber mortar-up the diverter bonnet?

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    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mc510 View Post
    Thanks everyone, I will do as you suggest and chip out the mortar so I can remove the whole stem. I'm still curious why it's there, though ... why would a competent plumber mortar-up the diverter bonnet?
    That was done by the tiler.

    John

  9. #9
    Master Plumber-Gas Fitter shacko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mc510 View Post
    Thanks everyone, I will do as you suggest and chip out the mortar so I can remove the whole stem. I'm still curious why it's there, though ... why would a competent plumber mortar-up the diverter bonnet?
    My guess is that the plumber didn't do it. It was probably the tile setter that got it in there because the protective sleeves were not on the valve when he grouted.

  10. #10
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default hole

    Some characteristics of tile setters are:
    1. If the hole does not have to be "neat", such as around a stem under a trim ring, they will cut it perfectly as close to the valve or pipe as possible.
    2. If it does not have to be "watertight", or the part will have to be removed someday, they will pack the hole with grout.
    3. If it does have to be neat, and watertight, such as behind the tub spout, they will use a hammer to make the hole and leave it ungrouted.

  11. #11
    DIY Member mc510's Avatar
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    hey guys, thanks for all your advice; big help! I was able to chip out the grout and remove the diverter stem; it wasn't easy to find a replacement but I finally did, and now everything is working again (and not leaking).

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