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This past weekend, I finally resolved to fix a leaky faucet in my bedroom bathroom. It has turned into a "learning experience" (which, in this context, is code for multiple trips to Home Depot).

My bathroom faucet is a normal sort of faucet, with separate handles for the hot and cold water. The handles drive an O-ring into a fixed washer seat, which shuts off the flow. Because the hot water side was leaking, and I haven't had much trouble with it before, I assumed that the washer was worn out. It is a fairly simple matter to replace a worn washer. One guide to doing such a thing is here.

I had not planned on the breaking the unit. There was a decorative metal plate around the base of the valve handle, which was screwed on to the valve assembly (figure 1). When I turned the decorative plate, to remove it, I ended up turning the valve assembly, which twisted and broke the pipe connecting the hot water valve to the mixing pipe. (Figure 3.)

This dismayed me, of course. A simple project had become much more complex. Because the faucet was from the 1970's, and the cold valve has had many problems, too, I decided to completely replace it.

The spirit may be willing, but corrosion has proved stronger. It took me several hours to remove the entire hot valve assembly. I've been unable to get the cold side... First, the decorative plate was too tight to easily turn off. After several long bouts with an adjustable wrench, I finally managed to semi-destructively remove it. Now, there are two more plates, one on the top of the sink and one below, that are screwed together to hold the valve in place. I cannot turn either of these: They are thin (so I can't get a good grip with my wrench), and so corroded that I doubt that anything could turn them. I might need to bring in the hacksaw.

On the plus side, I can demonstrate that I have learned. On Monday, I fixed a leaky faucet seal in another bathroom, with no problem.

Figure 1 - Sink with valve handles removed. Note the decorative plate still on the cold water side.

Figure 2 - Underneath the sink. The hot water shutoff valve is on the left, and the cold water shutoff valve is on the right.

Figure 3 - Broken line between the hot water valve and the merge with the cold water.



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All that and he's a plumber too!

I'm a plumber? Not yet!

Dear Jeff - this posting made my day. As an A & L major it made me feel better that even engineers struggle with home improvement projects. My track record is horrible and includes breading a shower head off (in the wall) and getting an electric shock while installing a ceiling fan. Good luck and be safe!

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