What I’m about to share is for the greater good. I’ve done all the work and I’m willing to tell you all about it. If you have a shower valve that looks like the one below, and it leaks, you’re in good hands. I’m about to help your life immensely.
Here’s the scenario – every so often, you see a drip of water fall from the bathtub spout in your bathroom. You’ve seen it for years, but in your heart of hearts, you always felt that if you just tightened the shower handle a little tighter than you did the last time you took a shower, things would be all better. Then, of course, the next time you’re in the bathroom, you see that dam tub leaking again. You reach into the shower to tighten the handle once more, see that as you do it, the leak stops. Because of this, you internally blame whoever it is you live with for not turning off the shower properly. It’s their fault, not yours.
Really though, you know that your shower leaks and it needs fixing. You’re just procrastinating like the rest of us.
If you’re like me and you have a shallow “dug” well, you hear the well pump kick on and off every now and again throughout the day – when no one is using the water. In my case, I’ve heard it for years. I first replaced the leaky bathroom sink faucet and then the dripping kitchen sink faucet, which made a pretty big difference. Now, it’s time to rebuild the shower valve so the pump never kicks on again – when it isn’t supposed to.
To kick things off, let’s take a look at the valve I’m referring to. It’s a Symmons S-86-2-X Temptrol Tub/Shower Mixing Valve and it looks like this:
Yours is probably dirty too, so just ignore that.
Now, if you’re looking around Amazon, you may stumble across just the back end of this valve. Just the metal that’s tucked behind the wall that doesn’t come with all the shiny chrome pieces. If you are, that part would be called a Symmons S-4001-BODY Temptrol Shower Valve Sweat Connection. Even though that’s not important for this post, I thought I’d throw it in here.
Today, I’m going to partially rebuild this valve. I’ll guide you through the entire process. I’ll give you part numbers and let you know exactly what’s making your valve leak. I’m actually going to be writing a follow-up post to this one in a few days because I haven’t received one of the parts yet. With what I did though, I got my shower to stop leaking.
The real problem with a project like this is that one is never really sure which replacement parts to purchase. Also, one never really knows what the guts of their valve looks like. Every resource on the web does a terrible job of clearly depicting what it is we’re dealing with. Because of this, Laura and I spent some time together in the bathroom today. I took a few of the beginning shots and she handled the rest. I needed both hands when I hit the half way mark. Please pardon some of the blur below. I was working one handed.
Also, I found all the correct parts right on Amazon.com, so get your pencil out and start making notes. I’ll list them for you here to make life easier.
Symmons Shower Valve Replacement Part List
– Raven E-Z R1241 Wrench For Symmons Tool, 1/4 Inch – 3/4 Inch – $23.00
– Super Lube 21030 Synthetic Grease (NLGI 2), 3 oz Tube – $5.20
– Symmons Diverter Spindle Kit – TA-25A – $10.73
– Kissler TA-4 55-0004 Symmons Valve Seat Set – $14.40
– Symmons TA-9 Geniune Washer Repair Kit – $7.15
– Stem Cartridge Spindle For Symmons TA-10 Temptrol – $23.49
Total – $83.97
If you’re doing two of these repairs, you can subtract the cost of the tool and the lube from the second one, which will give you a total of $55.77.
Removing the Shower Handle & Cover
The first thing I did was to use a very small regular screwdriver to pop out the center cap of the handle.
When I got the cap off, the screw holding the handle was exposed.
As you can see, you can use either a regular or a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the screw. I used the latter.
After the screw was removed, I pulled the handle straight back, which made it come off. If it didn’t come off, I could have used a pair of channellocks to grab the handle and wiggle it until it was removed. With the handle and the chrome collar taken off, I was left with this:
With a Phillips head screwdriver, I removed the two machine screws that held the cover on.
This is what it looks like without the cover:
Now, I want to point out one thing. As you remove the cover, be careful that the clip holding the tub/shower valve doesn’t come off. It’s held on by a small clip. If it stays on, things will be easier when you’re putting things back together.
Taking the Valve Apart
Next, I grabbed my channellocks and placed them on the large bolt looking thing and twisted counter-clockwise. It doesn’t take much force to loosen this spindle stem.
When it was totally loosened up, I pulled the entire contraption from the housing. This is what the butt end of it looks like. See that rubber washer? That’s supposed to be flat, not grooved like it is.
This is the stem cartridge spindle for a Symmons TA-10 Temptrol shower valve. You’ll need one of these, so I’ll add the part number to the list up above.
Removing & Replacing the Shower/Tub Diverter Spindle
Now, the first item I wanted to take care of was the valve that changes the water flow from the tub to the shower and vice-versa. To do that, I needed to unscrew the cover for this valve. To unscrew the cover, I needed a very special tool. I bought this tool as I was buying the other parts I needed. Don’t even think you can complete this project without this tool. You can’t. It’s called a Raven R1241 Wrench For Symmons Tool, 1/4 Inch – 3/4 Inch. I’ll list this up above too.
More precisely, it’s called the Raven E-Z 4 in 1 Wrench for Symmons and it’s item number R1241. Here I am using it for the first time. I needed the hex portion of the wrench to remove this small cover.
After I removed that hex screw, I saw this:
This is the metal Temptrol Diverter washer. I removed this washer easily with a regular screwdriver. It just pops right out.
After the washer was out of the way, I used the screw end of the tool I just showed you above to pull the actual diverter out from its place. This step requires that you twist the tool counter-clockwise and pull out at the same time.
I pulled on the tool and the diverter pulled right out.
This is the second part you’re going to need. It’s called a Symmons Diverter Spindle Kit and I’ll list it above. It comes with a new washer.
You may be asking yourself why you need to replace this valve when it has nothing to do with the drip you’re experiencing. I’m here to tell you that when you rebuild something, you should do a nice job. Everything that you can replace, you should replace. Also, as time goes by, this valve and its associated o-ring wear out. When these parts wear, they allow water to flow where it shouldn’t. Do you turn the shower on and still see water coming out of the tub faucet? You probably always will, but replacing this valve will minimize that effect.
In this next photo, you can compare the old and new diverter spindles. Check out how flat the o-ring is on the old one.
To replace this spindle, you’ll need to get some plumbing grease. I used some Super Lube, which is good for this type of job.
I opened the lube and smeared some of it on the areas of the spindle that would be touching the walls of the housing. I also added some grease to the o-ring. When that was finished, I pushed the diverter spindle back into its home.
In the photo above, the spindle isn’t pushed in all the way. I wanted to quickly mention that you should face the small gap in the face of the spindle upward. This will make it easier for the corresponding handle to slide right into place if you center it. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, take a look at the very first photo in this post. The handle I’m talking about is the bottom one – the one that changes the water from the shower to the tub. If you center this small spindle gap upward and then center that handle, things will match up.
Removing & Replacing the Valve Seats
Next, let’s take a look inside the valve housing itself. This is one shot you’ll never see online. These are the ones I love to take because this is what I always look for. There’s got to be someone out there like me who appreciates this kind of stuff.
Inside this valve housing are two valve seats. These are sold in a kit and are called Kissler 55-0004 Symmons Valve Seat. Both the small one and the large one come together.
To replace these, I had to use the large square side of my new tool. I slid it into the housing until it wouldn’t go back anymore. Then, I turned counter-clockwise. After I felt the large valve seat loosen, I unscrewed it all the way and pulled it out.
Then, I used the small square on the tool and did the same thing. I pulled the small seat out next. When I had both of them out, I compared parts, just to make sure everything was okay.
Since the new valve seats matched the old ones, I applied some grease to the inner and outer o-rings and threads and replaced the old with the new.
Replacing the Rubber Washer on the Stem Cartridge Spindle
I haven’t received the stem cartridge spindle yet, so I can’t replace that. I did, however, replace the small rubber washer on the old spindle. I’m doing this temporarily until I receive the new part. When that happens, I’ll pull this spindle out quickly and switch out a few more parts. I’ll write about that in another post. For now, I’ll list both the washer set and the new spindle part numbers up above in the list. That should conclude all the parts you’ll need for a brand new functioning bathtub and shower.
To replace this one washer, I merely unscrewed the screw at the back of the spindle, pulled off the old rubber washer, replaced it with the new one and screwed the new screw on. The reason I used the new screw is because it comes with some Loctite already applied to the threads. I didn’t have to use any of mine.
Again, you may be wondering something. You might not agree with replacing the entire spindle here. Well, I’ll tell you, there’s another rubber washer on this spindle that’s worn out. It’s actually probably the one that’s causing the majority of the drip. To replace that washer, you need to remove a thin metal ring from the spindle. This ring is almost impossible to remove without ruining the spindle itself. Folks have used a Dremel to do so and have had luck. I figured that since I’m already inside the shower valve, I really should replace as much as humanly possible. As I was trying to unscrew this ring with my channellocks, I felt the spindle metal compress, which, if I had gone any further, would have ruined it. In this case, it’s better to simply replace than repair. Again, I’ll give you the part number above.
After I was finished with everything, I reassembled the shower valve parts. When I get the new part, I’ll write the post and link to it right here. If you have any questions or concerns, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!
UPDATE: To read the second part of this post, please follow the link below: