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JeremyB 11-16-2009 02:01 PM

New here with plumbing prob
Hi Guys

I just bought a house in July and am starting to have some plumbing problems. Last week we discovered that there was water in the basement and called a plumber to take a look at it and he replaced the wax ring and no more leak. Today I came home to find there was water in the basement again so called them again, and they think that the water this time is caused my the old caulking around the tub so I have to scrape it up and apply new caulk.

Also when they were here I asked about the main shutoff valve, Because I tried to turn it and the plastic handle just spins? Does the handle just have to be replaced or the whole thing? ( they said it would have to be, ) and what would the cost be? they werent able to give me a exact quote on it right now and have to call tommorrow to there office.


Thre joys of being a homeowner I guess

The site look great here, hope you guys can help me with the dozens and dozens of questions im sure I will have.

Redwood 11-16-2009 04:05 PM

Hi Jeremy,

Welcome to the joys of home ownership.

The leaks you mention can be fun to find because there are so many possibilities ranging from plumbing problems with the valve, shower riser, overflow gasket, and more, to tile and caulk problems or, even careless placement of the curtain. Sometimes leaks appear with only one family member because of the shower head position, the way they stand when showering and the way water bounces off them. It can be tough to figure out the cause and may take several tries to get it right. You can help by keeping a vigilant eye to see if it leaks and trying to narrow down the exact circumstances of what is going on when the leak occurs such as one person only, showering, bathtub, filling, draining etc. It sounds like the plumber you have is a good one and doesn't simply want to open things up to have a look as he's trying to keep the repair as inexpensive as possible.

On your main valve while it is likely that the handle is stripped causing it to spin it is far more likely that the valve is a gate valve that has broken which would require replacement. Bear in mind that a good part of this job is having the water provider shut off the water before the plumber can do the job, then waiting on them to turn it back on after the work is done to be able to check for leaks. This coordination adds a lot of time to the job. Many water providers have a rule where if someone other than them touches the curb stop and it breaks they own it which can translate to a costly repair. So make sure of that before someone just grabs a wrench and does it on their own. Also make sure the plumber replaces it with a full port 1/4 turn ball valve to ensure a good working valve for years to come.

Nestor_Kelebay 11-16-2009 04:18 PM


Left click on the "Search" link near the top of the page, and immediately click on "Advanced Search" at the bottom of the menu that you'll see.

Under "Keywords" type in "silicone Manitoba snow" without the quotes.
Under "Username" type in Nestor_Kelebay
Uncheck "Search Children's Forums" at the bottom of the page.
Now click on the "Search Now" button also at the bottom of the search page.
You should see a thread entitled "bathtub caulk".

If you read and understand what I posted in that thread, you'll know more about working with silicone caulk than 95% of the "experts" answering questions in internet DIY Q&A forums like this one, and will be well prepared to replace the silicone caulk around your tub.

However, before replacing any caulk, check the obvious things. Remove the knobs and tub spout from the plumbing and check for the possibility of water leaking through the wall penetrations. If you see places water can get into the wall around the knobs or tub spout, fix those leaks before you start suspecting the silicone caulk.

Your water valve handle is probably just stripped. However, if the house is new to you, it's possible that that shut off valve leaks, and the handle was stripped by the previous owner twisting the bygeezus out of the handle trying to shut off the water flow completely. One of the best investments you can make in your house is to replace this valve (if it's leaking) with a ball valve (which is the most reliable valve you can get). That way, you can always shut off the water flow to the house completely in order to do any plumbing repairs.

Also, not all ball valves are made equal. Some companies are making ball valves that don't have a packing nut. Make sure the ball valve the plumber installs has a packing nut. Alternatively, buy a ball valve of the correct size (based on the size of the water supply piping the valve has to go on) and ask the plumber to install it.

In the image of the ball valve above:

Look under the handle of the ball valve, and you will see a hexagonal nut. That is the valve's packing nut. If water ever starts to leak out of the valve past the shaft the handle turns, you can stop that leak by tightening that packing nut a bit. The packing nut is never supposed to be TIGHT like a screw or bolt is tightened; it's just supposed to be tight enough to prevent water from leaking past the shaft the valve handle turns. Tightening the packing nut more than is sufficient to prevent water leakage will simply result in the packing wearing out prematurely, necessitating the replacement of the valve.

With ALL ball valves of the type shown above, the valve is open when the handle is parallel to the valve body and closed when the handle is perpendicular to the valve body. The valve shown is meant to be threaded onto iron pipe, but you can get these kinds of valves that are meant to be soldered onto copper pipe. The valves meant for being soldered onto copper pipe are intended to be soldered without taking the valve apart. The teflon seals inside the valve will tolerate the high soldering temperatures as long as the plumber takes care to ensure that the valve is in the OPEN position when it's being soldered into place. (I like to remove the handles from ball valves when soldering them in just to ensure I don't scorch the plastic on the handle with the torch.)

Nestor_Kelebay 11-16-2009 04:29 PM


Originally Posted by Redwood (Post 36834)
The leaks you mention can be fun to find because there are so many possibilities ranging from plumbing problems with the valve, shower riser, overflow gasket, and more, to tile and caulk problems or, even careless placement of the curtain.

I think it's so wonderful that each of us is so very unique.
I, for example, have never considered finding a water leak "fun".
Not even once in my life has trying to find the cause of water damage to my property, knowing that the water damage would continue until I found the cause, struck me as being "fun".
God made us all so wonderfully different.

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