What Is A Faucet Stem?

person turning on cold water and filling glassFewer sounds can be as distracting (or soothing depending on your point of view) as hearing water drip-drop down the sink, especially when you’re in the middle of a meditation pose! You mentally schedule a call to a plumber near you to have it checked out.

However, if you know how to do some essential plumbing work, you might not need to call one after all. Some plumbing repair works are simple to do yourself. Fixing a leaking faucet stem falls under this category of “easy-to-do” plumbing repairs.

But first, what is a faucet stem?

In layman’s terms, a faucet stem refers to the connectors attaching the faucet to the water pipes embedded in the walls. You can quickly identify the faucet stem by counting the number of splines on the broach and comparing the count against a particular chart designed solely for this purpose.

Stem faucets are known as “washer-type faucets’’ or “compression faucets.” They typically have two handles – one for cold water and the other for hot water.

Faucet stem repairs or replacements are some of the more common plumbing repairs homeowners would have to make periodically.

So how do you replace a faucet stem?

Steps In Replacing Faucet Stems

If you are dexterous and can follow instructions, then these tips would be beneficial to you in replacing a faulty shower stem

Turn off the water supply to the faucet. Do this by shutting the supply valve controlling the water supply to that particular faucet. Or shut off the main valves that supply water to the house.

After shutting off the water supply, open the faucets so trapped water can drain out from the lines.

Remove the faucet handle. To do this, begin by removing both the screw and the cap covering the faucet handle with a screwdriver or a pair of pliers.

After removing the faucet handle, your next step will be to loosen the packing nut (or lock nut) with an adaptable crescent wrench.

Now, after removing the packing nut, remove the stem from the faucet by threading it out.

The stem usually has a washer fastened to its underside with a screw. These washers are susceptible to wear and tear as time goes by. There will need to be periodic replacements.

Install the replacement faucet stem by threading it back into the faucet.

Fix the packing nut (lock nut) next. Ensure the lock nut fits just right. Too tight, and it won’t be easy to turn the faucet. Too loose, and water would end up leaking from the faucet stem.

Turn the water back on and check if there are any leaks around the faucet stem. If there are none, you can fix any decorative caps or bonnets previously removed.

If any of the above steps prove too challenging for you to follow, do not fret! Sometimes all you have to do is get expert help.

If you need a qualified plumber near you, call us today at Captain Plumber.


How Do I Identify What Brand of Faucet I Have?

water running slowly out of faucetEveryone knows faucets are crucial to building – residential or commercial. They supply and regulate the flow of water from the pipes. They can be found in the kitchen, the bathroom, the basement, and even outside. Knowing the brand of faucet you have on your property makes it easy to find the right replacement part in case they become faulty. But there are many other important reasons to know.

Why Do I Need to Know the Faucet Brand Installed in My Home?

Surely you can’t be bothered with something so trivial, right? Wrong! Knowing your faucet brand can be important for many reasons.

Let’s say you love your current shower setup. You forgot the ask the builder or plumber what type of hardware you have and it breaks. If you knew what was installed, you could get the accurate duplicate faucet to replace a faulty one. You need not second guess your choice as you are certain you’re buying the right part for the job.

If it came with a warranty, you have access to any warranty coverage for your original faucet when you buy replacement parts directly from the manufacturer. Cool way to save some extra dollars on that repair job for the faucet, right?

Identifying your faucet brand means that whatever upgrade or add-on released by your faucet manufacturer remains compatible if you decide to use those extra features in the future.

Identifying Faucet Brands

There are several ways to identify your faucet brand. You can also use two or more identification methods to determine a faucet brand. These methods include:

  • Using The Manufacturer’s Logo

The fastest way to identify a faucet brand is by searching for the manufacturer’s name or logo. It is important to clean the faucet handles, spouts, and escutcheon as the manufacturer’s name or logo could be imprinted anywhere.

  • Using Spline Count

Most faucets in older homes cannot be identified using the logo, model number, or brand name. In such a case, you would have to detach the broken part. You’d likely be able to get the replacement parts by removing the faucet stem and counting the number of splines (teeth) on its broach.

  • Using Stem Length

If you already have the broach of your faucet out, you may be able to identify the manufacturer and brand by measuring the length of the stem. There is a corresponding point number system to each measurement that gives the length of the stem when measured.

  • Using a Broach Gauge

This is perhaps the most preferred way of identifying the faucet manufacturer and we highly recommend it. A broach gauge works by comparing the faucet handles or stem slot into it against a key to find the perfect match. This is a quick and efficient way of discovering a manufacturer’s brand name.

If all else fails, you could always carry the faucet stem along to your local hardware store and check for a replacement part that fits.

If that’s too much stress for you, why don’t you call us today at Captain Plumber and we’d have one of our experienced plumbers over in no time to look at your faucet. We’d love nothing more than to take that load off your chest!

How to Fix a Shower Faucet

water dripping from faucetA faulty shower faucet can be such a nuisance, with the cringe-y noise, enduring drips that may quickly shoot up your utility bill, and the dry rot or mold that forms around the bathroom wall with the leak. This makes it important to replace the old shower faucet with a new unit.

But first, what are some causes of a damaged or leaky faucet?

Causes of a Leaky Faucet

  • Water pressure

If you observe that the shower faucet drips water when the handle moves a certain way, then you may be dealing with water pressure problems, leading to the leak.

  • Faulty Cartridge

A cartridge-style faucet is found in faucets with two handles, one for cold and one for hot water. The valve on each handle spot controlling the flow of water into the faucet is the cartridge, and damage to the cartridge may cause the faulty faucet.

  • Broken Washers

Washers undergo a lot of friction, which could cause them to wear out, leading to leaking of the shower faucet. It may also be that the washer was not installed properly or is the wrong size.

How to Fix a Shower Faucet

You can learn how to fix a shower faucet yourself or you can hire a plumbing service for faucet repair. There are two kinds of shower faucets:

  • The Single Handle Shower Faucet
  • The Two-handle Shower Faucet

Single Handle Shower Faucet

  1. Turn the shower off and take out the handle
  2. Also, take out the escutcheon plate. This is so that you can get through to the shower valve.
  3. Get a plier and, with it, loosen the locking nut and pull the cartridge from the valve’s center.
  4. Next, push a new rubber seat along with a spring into the valve by putting it on the end of a pencil and pushing it in. Repeat this for all the other seats.
  5. In the existing valve, put in the new cartridge
  6. Then get the O-ring, slip over the cartridge, and, with the pliers, tighten the locknut.
  7. Fix a new escutcheon plate over the valve and screw it until it is tightly held in place.
  8. Put the new handle onto the valve and then turn on the water.
  9. Adjust the water temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and finally, install a temperature limit so that the valve does not scald.

Two-Handle Shower Faucet

  1. Start by extracting the cover cap to reveal the screw
  2. Once you have the screw in sight, take it out, along with the handle.
  3. Next, go to the faucet stem, loosen it and take it out of the valve body.
  4. Then put the new parts one after the other. These include the O-rings, flat washers, faucet washers, and seals. Don’t forget to take out the screw first before putting it in the washer.
  5. Replace the faucet stem; lubricate linear grooves using plumber’s grease.
  6. Replace the handle and test the valve by running the water. Afterward, plug trim to the wall.

If it is all too much for you, you can simply find a plumber near you, like Captain Plumber, to fix your shower faucet.