If you can’t stand the heat

Normally, the second half of that phrase above goes: “get out of the kitchen.” However, in this case, it’s “call a plumber.”

I mentioned awhile ago that we were having some issues with the cold water tap in my bathroom. As in it didn’t like to turn. As in hope you like scalding showers.

Old taps in the tub

A consult in the Home Depot plumbing aisle suggested that the cartridge on the tap might be worn. We needed to figure out the brand of tap so that we could buy the right replacement cartridge. As there was no logo or maker’s mark anywhere on our taps, we turned off the water (to the whole house), took the tap apart, removed the cartridge and went back to HD to find a new cartridge that matched the old.

We found what we thought was the right one, but upon our return home, Matt and I could not get the cartridge properly installed. We screwed it in–repeatedly, cautiously turned on the water, and then quickly shut off the water as it sprayed and dribbled from all of the wrong places.

Eventually, we gave up and reinstalled the old cartridge.

Old tap cartridge

Over time, the tap got stiffer and stiffer. Turning it hurt my hand. I resorted to covering the tap with facecloths and towels to cushion my grip. I started to worry that one day I wouldn’t be able to turn the water off.

Plus the tap would only turn so far, and showers were approaching boiled alive territory. I like a hot shower, but there’s a fine line between hot and cooked.

We called the plumber.

In less than a half an hour, he installed the new cartridge–the very one that we had bought–with absolutely no problem.

Old tap cartridge

My next shower was like something out of the 20th century. Warm water at the turn of a knob. Temperature adjustments as needed. Wondrous.

Except it’s getting a little hot again. Turn the knob. Oh isn’t that wonderful how easily it turns.

Splish-splash.

Okay that’s still a little hot. Adjust again.

Rub-a-dub-dub.

Getting hot again. What’s going on?

About every 30 seconds, I had to adjust the temperature. Thanks to our new cartridge, I could adjust the temperature fairly easily, but constantly playing with the faucet wasn’t what I had in mind.

I tried turning on just the cold water. It ran for a little while, but gradually the flow decreased to a trickle. Turn it on a little bit more, and the same thing happened.

Old taps in the tub

We called the plumber again, and he thought that the cartridge might be a bit too lubricated and might be slipping. So before we were too tight and now we’re too loose. It’s like the Goldilocks of bathroom faucets.

We’re leaving it alone and the faucet does seem to be tightening up on its own. However, this bathroom reno can’t come soon enough–in case you can’t tell from the cracked mildewy tile you’ve seen all through this post.

Have you ever replaced a tap cartridge? Any tips in case we ever have to do this again? Why do you think the cold tap is turning itself off? What’s the worst idiosyncrasy in your bathroom?

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4 thoughts on “If you can’t stand the heat

  1. Hopefully your faucet tightens up and you can have a nice modern showertime soon!

    I had a leaky faucet in my tub that dripped and since I knew deep down that I could try to fix it myself, I never called a plumber….but then put off the repair for 2 YEARS. It wasn’t until my guy moved in with me and our increased water usage made me consider how that drip might effect the septic, and so I used an online calculator and found out how horrible of a water waste that drip was. So I put on my big girl britches and pulled up you tube for a tutorial.

    I wasn’t sure if I would need to replace the cartridge or just the seals, so I bought everything just in case, also, like you, I had to shut off the water to the whole house to work on the faucet so I wanted to be able to try all possibilities quickly. Turns out the new seal did the trick! I feel a bit more accomplished now that I fixed that, and its amazing how clean the tub stays without the constant drip of water leaving mineral stains on the drain, not to mention the now-obvious-to-me water savings. I can’t believe how wasteful that drip was!

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