Monday, May 16, 2016

Replacing a Tub Faucet: How To

Let me start by saying that not only am I not a professional plumber, I also don't play one on TV.  These steps worked for us in our home but if you're hesitant about trying it yourself, please call an expert!

Last week I shared my beautiful, exciting, brand new tub faucet that allowed us to have a fully-functioning second bathroom!  The final step to getting this bathroom functional was removing the old, broken, leaky faucet and replacing it.  After ordering this faucet, we gathered together the supplies we needed:

  • thread seal tape
  • pipe wrench
  • box cutter
  • towels
  • Dremel (this is not a normal need!)
  • Screwdriver

Here's what we were working with.  Awesome, isn't it?  The left knob was broken off of the faucet, and the dripping was never ending.  The black caulk around the faucet wasn't exactly appealing, either.  We started out by turning off the water supply.  Pro tip: This step is pretty non-optional, no matter what kind of house you have.  We just turned off the water supply to the entire house, just because we were erring on the side of caution.  

After we confirmed the water supply was off, we removed the access panel for the plumbing for the tub.  For us, we have a section of wall that is in our third bedroom that leads to the pipes.  We had to do some serious finagling to get it off, because the batten strips that allowed the panel to be removed had been painted over a few times.  We placed some old towels down below the pipes to help keep the floors dry and mostly protected while we worked. 

Once we set aside the access panel, we disconnected the current connections so that we would be able to pull off the old faucet.  Deputy Dad had to use a pipe wrench to loosen the connections, but after that he was able to disconnect everything with his awesome muscles.    

Since we were changing finishes, we also decided to replace the shower head arm, so we unscrewed that connection and set that pipe aside as well.  This part isn't necessary if you don't want to replace the top arm.  

Once everything was disconnected we had the pleasure of removing this nasty old thing.  Deputy Dad took a box cutter and ran it around that disgusting caulk to separate it, then he was able to pry the old faucet off.

Once the faucet was gone (!!!!!) we had some nasty residue left behind from the old caulk.  We took some mineral spirits to it, and we were able to remove it fairly easily.  With the caulk removed, we rubbed everything down with a bleach solution to make sure to kill any nasty germs that might have been living back there.

Deputy Dad was then able to pop the new faucet into the already existing openings.  Look how much better it's looking already!  Right about this time I started celebrating and doing a happy dance and picturing a bathroom all my own.  Deputy Dad went ahead and killed my dreams and reminded me we still had work left to do.  What a buzzkill.

To replace the arm, we wrapped the threading in Teflon tape to make sure we would get a good seal.  This is the step where we needed the Dremel.  We had to trim down some of the threading because our walls are so thin that even with the collar attached, the pipe hung out too far from the wall and allowed dripping.  It was a little harrowing because we had to make sure to leave enough threading to get a good connection but still make sure it was short enough to not stick out too far. 

Once we had everything tight, we screwed the elbow connector back in to the wall.  I use this electric screwdriver for everything.  It looks like it's discontinued now, but this one and this one look pretty similar.  I use this thing for everything.  It's small enough that I can get in to some tight spaces with it, and it's a ton easier than using a manual screwdriver.  #yesiamthatlazy

Deputy Dad got everything back to finger tight, then used the pipe wrench to tighten everything back nice and tight.  Before we sealed everything up, poor Deputy Dad had to run back outside (remember how I said we did this in the pouring rain?  Poor guy had to go out in it twice!)  We turned on the faucet and let glorious water flow and checked the connections for leaks.  If this were a perfect world, I'd tell you that everything was awesome, no leaks, and we all lived happily ever after.  However, this is the real world.  The connection up by the shower arm started dripping down the wall.  We kept fiddling with it and could NOT figure out what was wrong!  Deputy Dad fiddled with it for an hour before realizing that there were these weird ridges inside of the pipe.  He grabbed the handy Dremel once again and filed down the ridges, reconnected everything, and we tried again.

Sweet victory!!!

We replaced the old shower head with another hand-held shower head similar to this one.  I prefer the hand-held options because it makes things like giving a 2-year-old her "shower", giving the dogs their baths, and actually cleaning the tub a lot easier.  And that's the story of, how with some basic tools and a couple hours of our time, we gave the kids - and any guests - a new shower of their very own!



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