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Thread: WARNING!! Lowe's Replacement Stems

  1. #1
    Software Engineer Gouranga's Avatar
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    Default WARNING!! Lowe's Replacement Stems

    Hey everyone, this is not to slam a particular business but to warn my fellow DIYs. I recently had a cold water stem blow out on my Kohler shower setup. To be fair, I have replaced my fair share of these (including 4 others in this current house) and never had this problem before. So I figured it would be a 10 minute fix. Got the stem from the local Lowes exact model number, size, etc of the broken stem. Did a quick visual inspection, and they matched. So I installed it, and as soon as I turned the water back on. The stem came a flying out. To make a LONG story short. On these replacement stems at Lowes, turns out they either deliberately changed the thread or made an error on a batch. There was a VERY small difference between the threads. Just enough of a difference to strip the diverter and force me to replace the entire thing ($500 repair instead of $15). So if you should buy these parts be anal. Don't just do a simple visual inspection, count the number of threads on the stems and if they are off at all, take it back. Painfull, but well learned lesson.,

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    A good plumber will but this is good advice for DIYers.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default stem

    Did you decide that the entire valve had to be replaced, or did a plumber? It is not reasonaable that a stem that tightened into the valve body, would be loose enough to blow out. And if it blew out there should have been so much difference in diameter between the threads that it would not have damaged the body threads that greatly.

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    Software Engineer Gouranga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj
    Did you decide that the entire valve had to be replaced, or did a plumber? It is not reasonaable that a stem that tightened into the valve body, would be loose enough to blow out. And if it blew out there should have been so much difference in diameter between the threads that it would not have damaged the body threads that greatly.
    It was both. I tried to play around with it. Even took the old stems housing just replaced the borken piece of it with the new part and tried to use that one. The part I put in, actually did some damage to the diverters threads. It would tighten into there but was in fact actually being held by maybe one thread and not by much. The plumber actually tried messing with it for about 30 minutes, trying mostly the same things I did and eventually came to the same conclusion I did. He was the just as perplexed as I was that the replacement stem, was close enough to the original threads to screw in but just different enough to do that much damage when it was tightened. I mean, it was almost unbelievable it could happen by accident. He did give me the name of a great plumbing supply store in the Charlotte area to go to in the future.

  5. #5
    I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP) Lakee911's Avatar
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    Did the packaging say it was compatible? Try contacting the mfg and Lowes? Maybe one of them will eat it (or at least give you some $$$ )?

    Jason

  6. #6
    Software Engineer Gouranga's Avatar
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    Yeah, it was the exact make model for the Kohler stem I was taking replacing. Now Lowes supplier is not Kohler, all their stems are from some other company that makes these supposedly identical replacements (ironically "perfect match" is part of the product name). I have actually purchased them before from there without issue. The only reason I did was the plumbing supply shops I know of are a 35 minute drive into Charlotte. However, this one time it cost me way to much to not make that trip next time. The plumber said he has seen sporadic issues with the replacement parts from the big box stores, although nothing like what happened with ours. I do have an email in to Lowes corporate about my issue. I will certainly post what/if any response Lowes gives me.

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member greekguy7's Avatar
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    What brand was this replacement stem.... Danco??

  8. #8
    Software Engineer Gouranga's Avatar
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    That's them!

  9. #9
    Software Engineer Gouranga's Avatar
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    Just thought I would throw out an update. I had my local Lowes stores zone manager contact me over the weekend to come in and talk with him. While I was not overimpressed with their plumbing guy who could only say "Well...that hasn;t ever happened before." the manage was very apologetic and asked me to see him when I do my next major project (Which will be a tile countertop in about 2 months). He said he has spoken with the store manager and would make up for what happened to me on the prices for anything I needed for that next project.

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