God damn plumbing

I have to replace the faucet in our master bedroom’s roman-style bath tub. I bought a new faucet setup from Home Depot, gifted it to my wife, who’s all excited for us to be able to take baths upstairs again – only to be stymied when I took off the cover of the bathtub.

I don’t have the foggiest idea on how to proceed. Are there enough knowledgeable people in here that I could post some pictures and get some advice? Unfortunately, I can’t afford to pay a professional to do this.

Yep, post here, we’ll try to answer! Keep in mind a few things when taking pictures. You’ll want to take pictures of:

  1. The hot and cold water feeds that come out of the wall/bathtub (am I right in assuming a “Roman style bath” is a bathrub with the fixture on the side? Or is that a garden tub?)

  2. Any drain stoppage mechanism that is involved, unless that is totally separate from the fixture (it probably will be).

  3. The lines/feeds going into the faucet.

Also, be sure to try and get a quick measurement, based on outside and inside diameter, of the pipes, to see if they will match.

I would also highly recommend reading the instructions cover to cover before you start, as there may be weird steps in there you’ll want to know about before you start. Visualize every step you are going to do before you start, to save time and frustration later. Especially be aware of things like “This part looks kinda flimsy. What if I break it with too much force?” Try not to use too much force on those parts. :)

Ok, sorry, took pics before reading your reply. Here are some, and I’ll endeavor to take some more:

Model/brand of my new faucet:

The new faucet, still in its packaging:

This is what I see when I open up the side-panel of the tub:

Another angle, showing the current busted-faucet that I’m trying to replace:

Have you ever worked on any plumbing before, mystery? It will help when I describe terms and such.

Also, did you read the instructions yet? no matter what advice someone gives you, at least looking at the blown up schematic (if there is one) in the installation guide will give you some idea as to what you are looking at when working.

Your house has a servants’ quarters? Just how big is your house?

Four times bigger than my old house. And half the price. But I’m finding out maintaining two kitchens, 4 full baths, two water heaters, and two gas furnaces is . . . a lot of work. Maybe I actually need a servant.

Back to plumbing.

The process is pretty simple. I can see from that fourth picture that you have a hot and cold water copper pipe going to each side. I’m assuming under that lip is a t-shaped pipe where the lines blend, since you have one output faucet right now. Your new faucet appears to have the same setup.

Tools needed:

A vice grip, if you have one.
A cresent wrench, which is the kind that is adjustable to fit. Obviously you need one as large or larger than the largest nut on the largest fixture you will be working on.
Some plumbers tape, also called thread tape, if you need it. You might not. It depends on how good the fitting is.

The first thing you will want to do is find out how to turn off water to those pipes. You are going to be looking for a valve further up the pipe, maybe in a wall or access hatch. If you can’t find one, unfortunately you have to shut off water to the house. Then, “bleed” the pipes dry by opening the faucet valves on top all the way. You may want to put the spigot back on for that part so it empties into the tub or a bucket instead up just through that pipe on the side of the tub.

After you have emptied the water in the pipes and nothing else is coming out, you’ll have to start taking apart the old faucet.

BEFORE YOU DO THIS, STUDY IT A BIT. See if the fittings that attach the old valves to those copper pipes matches the new ones. Does that makes sense? If they won’t match, there is no reason to take it apart at all yet, as you will have to get some kind of adapter. Since faucets are more or less standard, it should fit fine.

Then, take it apart, once you are pretty sure putting on the new one will match.

This might take a while, and a vise-grip or the crecent wrench may come in handy here. In any case, pay attention to how it comews off, because worse comes to worst, you may have to put it back on.

Are you doing this in real time, as in right now? I could guide you through it, bomb-disarming style, if you like.

I’ve used a snake attached to my drill to clean out drains, and I can put a mean shine on a faucet using some 409 cleaner, but that’s the extent of it.

I also use terms like “thingy.” For Christmas, my uncle gave me a set of tools, as when he asked my wife what I needed, she said: “Uh, he never does anything around the house. Let’s make this a hint…”

I haven’t read the directions beyond browsing over them, realizing that I’m not comprehending how to even begin, and that the directions make the assumption that I have that knowledge.

hahahaha “Pfister.”

Just fuckin’…take the old one off and put the new one on. Use a hammer.

edit: turn off the water first. Or don’t, but if you don’t, please video it.

This cracked me up, mostly for how close to him it hit. :)

So many numbers, so little information.

His old house only had one servants’ kitchen.

It looks to me, mystery, like this tub has some additional things inside it. Does it have whirlpool jets or something? I see some PVC pipes with fittings going into it. The one below that is bigger. Is that some kind of suction intake? I’m guessing it’s not the drain, as the drain tend to be on the bottom for obvious reasons.

Also, in image 3, I can just make out the nuts that attach the fittings, they appear to be made of brass/copper. This is the attachment point for the old valves.

A picture of the inside (i.e. T-intersection pipe) might be helpful.

Number one thing though, find out how to shut off water to that tub.

Yeah, it’s a whirlpool tub. The big pipe is for the suction, as far as I can tell.

I’m not doing this in real time, although I can go searching for the shut-off valve over lunch.

Ok, turned off the water, got under there for some better pics.

The problem, right now, is that I don’t know how I’m going to get tools up in there, let alone work with the pipes in any fashion.

Here’s a shot that shows how the fiberglass of the tub is connected up to the wall and floor:

Here’s what the underside looks like. I’m pulling back the fiberglass as far as it’ll go:

Not sure how to unscrew anything there, even without tools.

I see threads and nuts on all three of those fittings. Get in there soldier, and start loosening things. You’ll want to loosen the nuts that are flush against the tub. You’ll also want to take off the plastic handles that go over the valves. I’m guessing you won’t be able to pull the valve down without taking off the top. There is probably a bolt holding the plastic handle to the valve. By handle, I mean the part that sticks above the tub that you use to turn off the water.

Did you bleed the pipes yet?
Also, did you see any cutoff valves, or did you have to turn it off at the source?

Keep in mind there is gonna be some water in there, so have a few towels and a small bucket ready to go to absorb spillage.

It might be a tight fir, but use your crescent wrench vertically, so that the handle is facing down, and the two sides of the wrench are still on the nut. You won’t be able to get much torque that way, so it might take a bit of effort. Don’t get frustrated. Remember to hold onto the pipe so it doesn’t turn with the nut. You will want to take them off counterclockwise. Righty tighty, lefty loosy, usually. :)

Did you look at the instructions and parts yet? By now you should be able to tell where these things are going.

Also, in the Pfiser box, I see the T-shaped part, but I don’t see the pipe that is supposed to go in between the valves. I would assemble the new faucet partially as a test run to make sure you know how to fit everything together. Do this before you start ripping out the old one, so you have a frame of reference. You can eyeball it or hold it up to the tub holes to see if it matches. It’s possible, but unlikely, that the holes in your tub are too far apart for this kind of faucet. Check that out first too.

A picture of the assembled new faucet would be helpful too, both for you (so you get practice) and me (so I can see how this thing looks assembled).

Ok, back upstairs I go… Yeah, I searched and searched, but couldn’t find a cut-off valve for just that bathroom or just that tub. Had to turn off the house at the source.

Ok, reading instructions and setting out the pieces and matching them up and whatnot, and I come upon the following:

Solder? Awww, crap. I think the last time I soldered anything was in middle school.

Ugh.

Roto-Rooter came out and cleaned out the main drain, but it took him over 2 hours and he had to move the toilet to get to it, plus it was really tough for him to get through the thick, peanut-butter like sludge that was caked all in our pipe. He believes he got most of it out, and advised we run a TON of water in our house the next few weeks to clear and flush it out into the sewer system, so we will.

But it cost $310 for him to do all that. Sheesh. $65 for him to move the toilet. I’d have done it before hand if I’d known! Sigh. Going to be another lean week.

So, Pfister doesn’t make the “Quick Connect Kit (sold separately)” any more, so I went back to the hardware store and found 2 braided 1/2" connectors. I think I solved that issue.