ted & pamela

Archive for January 2010

On water shutoff valves and rusty faucets

Friday, January 29th, 2010

The upstairs hall bathroom in our house has a sink faucet that sprays water pretty much every way but down. This has annoyed me every time I use that faucet, so this week I resolved to take a look and see if I could do anything about it.

I’m guessing that the problem is that the aerator on the end of the faucet spout is filled with particles, probably mostly bits of copper and iron corrosion, based on the appearance of the aerator. Pamela suggested that we try to take off the aerator to get out all of the crap restricting the flow; I kind of wanted to just replace the entire faucet because I thought it was ugly anyway. See below: it’s pretty disgusting.

bathroom sink faucet

Yesterday morning I finally got around to taking a closer look. I started by going under the sink to shut off the water, and… well… sadly, I didn’t get much farther. Both the hot and cold water shutoff valves were impossible to turn by hand, possibly from years (decades?) of neglect. I managed to turn the cold water valve a bit with a plumber’s wrench, but it was slow going, and the space under the sink was obviously not intended for a tool as large as a plumber’s wrench. On top of that, after about a quarter turn clockwise, the valve started leaking.


I turned the valve a clockwise a bit more, and not only was it not enough to turn off the water, it also caused the valve to leak more quickly. The only good news was that turning the valve clockwise with the plumber’s wrench had loosened it enough that I could (just barely) turn it back counter-clockwise with my hands. Back in its original position, the valve stopped leaking.

Giving up on turning the water off, I decided to focus my attention back on the faucet itself. My first few attempts to unscrew the aerator failed because my wrench just stripped off layers of corrosion every time I turned. Eventually, I got it to turn a bit, but it felt like the corrosion had completely annihilated the screw threads. I was pretty sure that if I got the aerator off, I’d never get another one back on. That might be okay, actually.

At that point, I was running late for work, so I decided to leave it there for the time being. I just hope the water shutoff valve doesn’t start leaking again…

So now I have a few dilemmas. I’d like to fix the valves so that I can actually turn them with my hands, and I’d like the one I turned to stop leaking. I’d like to replace the faucet, but it looks like I’d have to take out the entire sink basin to give myself enough space to do so. Most of all, I’d like the faucet to stop spraying water everywhere when I turn it on.

Thoughts, suggestions?

underneath the sink