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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Sat, 22 Oct 2016

The squeak in the plumbing

There's been a squeak in the plumbing. For about a year. When you turn the water on, "squeak." When you turn it off, "squeak."

The picture gives it away. It was the Zurn pressure-reducing valve. We have super-high water pressure, and we probably need two pressure-reducing valves in series but make due with one.

Anyhow, the squeak has been a mystery. Ilene thought it was the pressure-reducing valve all along. I agreed that we probably needed either a new one, or a rebuild on the old one (there's a kit for that).

But I wasn't sure. The sound was super loud in the shower wall.

I ventured into the spider- (and web-) filled crawlspace under the house to check the pipes while the teenager turned the water on and off. I was looking for things that moved. Things that moved enough to squeak.

I found nothing.

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Tue, 15 Dec 2015

I re-rebuilt the Dishmaster faucet again, plus re-did shower valve job

I rebuilt our Dismaster faucet about a week ago, a couple of weeks after a washer-assembly replacement failed to stop it from leaking.

That's because the valve seats were shot. I have never replaced the valve seats before, mostly because I had no idea how to get the old ones out.

The Dishmaster is designed like no other plumbing fixture I've ever worked on. Not that my experience is so vast.

The washers are mounted on plastic assemblies that snap on to the valve stems and turn freely on them. That enables the washers to make a tight-enough seal against the valve seats without grinding when you continue to turn them (unless you turn them a whole lot).

It kind of, sort of mimics the feel of a ceramic-disc faucet while still using a rubber washer against a metal valve seat.

A couple of weeks ago, I pulled the valve stems and replaced those washer assemblies. Not as cheap as regular washers by a long shot, but not a total deal-breaker, pricewise, either.

When that didn't work, I knew I had to figure out how to replace the valve seats.

First of all, I couldn't find the Dismaster M76 model's valve seats at any of my local plumbing or hardware stores. I had to order them. I got them from Casler Hardware, where the prices were good, though the shipping costs were high. Prices were higher [direct from Dishmaster], but I was more confident that Casler would ship quickly, so I chose them for this particular order.

Once you get the valve seats and the all-important Union O-rings that seal the faucet at a critical point, you can read the instructions, or just [see them on the Web].

You remove all of the outside parts of the faucet, then unscrew it from the back at what are called the unions, I believe.

Then you use a hex-key wrench to remove the valve seats from behind instead of the usual way (from in front with a valve-seat wrench). Curiously, the valves seats hold in the bolts that join the front of the faucet to the "unions."

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Thu, 21 Jul 2011

Sometimes a leak stops on its own

In the days of galvanized piping, you could sometimes count on rust to eventually stop a small leak. I've had small drips occasionally "go away" as the piping ages, sometimes after a matter of weeks.

This doesn't happen all the time. Or much of the time. Most leaks must be dealt with.

Electricity can "leak" too. To ground. But it's much easier, in my experience, to keep the "hot" and "neutral" wires apart than it is to keep water under pressure within a plumbing system. Ditto for natural gas, which runs to the home at something like 4 pounds per square inch of pressure instead of anywhere between 50 and 300 PSI (do I have my numbers right?) for municipal water.

Yep, water's a bitch.