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jimbihari
intermittent tub faucet water pressure problem
jimbihari

In 1950 house which uses city water supply and has ½ inch copper pipe. The Glacier Bay tub/shower faucet seems to have four modes. 1. Works perfectly fine. 2. Has no cold water flow at all and water comes out scalding hot. 3. Has pretty much no water flow at all. 4. During a shower or during filling the bath, the water pressure suddenly changes from full water pressure to no cold water pressure and back again (can sound like a machine gun or may change pressures at a slower rate, changing between cold off and on every few seconds). This happens with nothing else in the house using water--no running toilet, nothing.

This faucet has a single rotating handle that rotates one half revolution counterclockwise to go from off to cold only to warm to hot. No control over water pressure. The diverter to the shower is on the tub spout. I removed the faucet cartridge completely and even took it apart somewhat and couldn’t see anything wrong with it. I found that the main body of the faucet has two set screw like controls to separately regulate how much hot and how much cold can reach the reach the faucet stem. I opened both of them up (I think) to full flow. With the faucet cartridge removed completely, I turned the water back on and let the water shoot out of the faucet body across the tub at full pressure for several minutes to flush out the hot and cold water lines. I put it back together and that didn’t fix the problem.

I installed a brand new VersiTech Cartridge for Tub and Shower DANCO Model # 10773 Internet # 206165367 Store SKU # 1001492998 and that did not fix the problem. Still unpredictable, intermittent pressure. Works fine for 1 minute or 2o minutes, then has a problem. No way to predict whether or not you can take a shower or bath right now. Nothing else in the house has this intermittent pressure problem even when this tub/shower faucet does.

dj1
Re: intermittent tub faucet water pressure problem
dj1

Not knowing anything about your pipes and plumbing and without running an inspection, it's hard to say.

Did you say that your main water supply is 1/2"?
Do you have a pressure reducing valve?
Did you try an OE glacier bay cartridge instead of Danco?
What kind of glacier bay faucet do you have?

If you feel lost for an answer, it may be time to call a few plumbers.

jimbihari
Re: intermittent tub faucet water pressure problem
jimbihari

House came with home warrantee but no plumber on their list would come out after 4 pm when I can be home.
Seems like main line is 1/2 inch galvanized, and then goes to water meter and comes out as 1/2 inch copper as main line. Not sure what a pressure reducing valve is or where it goes. Not sure what model of faucet it is, but it took the model of cartridge I listed in my post. I bought the only cartridge I could find available anywhere to fit it. Other than that cartridge I replaced (and I think the original one was fine) all there is is a brass faucet body which is like 4 pipes coming together in a cross shape (hot and cold lines on left and right, shower and tub spout lines go up and down) and those four faucet body arms are soldered to four 1/2 inch copper pipes. Can there be something like stones in my water lines that can't pass through the openings in the faucet body where they meet the cartridge? Can there some kind of weird situation where there needs to be like a, I don't know, thing to release air trapped in the line somehow--that doesn't make any sense at all.

dj1
Re: intermittent tub faucet water pressure problem
dj1

The sources of your problems are specifically:

- Main supply line: even for a tiny house, 1/2" main is too small. You need at least 3/4" or even 1" line.

- You need a pressure reducing valve, in my area we place them outside, where the main line enters the house.

- Galvanized pipes, in a 65 year old house? I'm surprised you have water coming in at all. Your pipes must go - it's called a re-pipe job - where the plumber runs new pipes from the street to the house and in the walls. You need to talk to plumbers who do this type of work, you also have options on what pipes to choose.

Re-pipe is an expensive job, so shopping around is a must. Also, screen your plumber carefully, because he will cut and open some walls, which will have to be repaired later. Many plumber will cut, no, will butcher your walls and walk away after they finish their re-pipe saying: "now you need a drywall/plaster guy and a painter". Demand to see previous jobs and verify them for truthfulness.

ed21
Re: intermittent tub faucet water pressure problem
ed21

Does it have an anti-scald valve installed? It seems unlikely given the age, but if so it could be malfunctioning.

jimbihari
Re: intermittent tub faucet water pressure problem
jimbihari

Many thanks to all for the replies. There is no anti-scald valve. I, too, was surprised that the main line has only 1/2 inch copper out of the water meter, yet my previous (much larger 1963 house which also had 3 bathrooms also surprisingly had a 1/2 copper main line and had no problems). And this house has three full bathrooms and the other faucets have no problems. The other two just have showers and I need to use the one bathroom with the bathtub for my toddlers and that is the one that has the faucet problems.
I am curious how a pressure reducing valve will fix the problem. I teach physics and I want to know the physics behind what is happening. What is actually keeping cold water (and sometimes hot water) from passing through the
faucet that would be fixed by having the pressure lower? And why does it happen sometimes and not at other times? And why does it sometimes oscillate high pressure/low pressure/high pressure/low pressure as if someone is suddenly turning the cold water supply off and on at rapid but irregular intervals?
Jim

ed21
Re: intermittent tub faucet water pressure problem
ed21

Since the other fixtures don't have the problem I don't think it could be a pressure reducing valve. The whole house would be effected.
Maybe adjusting valve(the one with the set screw) is isn't working right maybe from corrosion and sometimes gets lose and floats back and forth creating the chattering and low water flow.
Maybe a hunk of crorosion broke off somewhere and is doing the same thing.
Maybe another part of the valve is worn out and does the chattering/low flow thing when you're all lathered up.
Probably time to replace the mixing valve. Good luck with the galvanized pipe.

Mastercarpentry
Re: intermittent tub faucet water pressure problem
Mastercarpentry

First dump the Glacier Bay faucet for a Delta. I work on rentals and have replaced nearly every Glacier Bay faucet within less than 5 years after it went in, some die in as little as one year. They are cheap junk. Next unscrew a spout aerator on a sink, plug the drain then run the water and see what comes out and is in the aerator screen. If you see more than a few rust specks you've got problems with the galvanized pipes and you need to find and replace them all. I've come across a few old houses which were entirely plumbed with 1/2" from the meter and unless several faucets were opened water flow was OK- not great, just OK.

You may have to bend your schedule but if you've got a homeowners warranty you need to address this before it expires. One day's loss of pay pales in comparison to the several thousands a full re-plumb will cost.

Phil

HoustonRemodeler
Re: intermittent tub faucet water pressure problem
HoustonRemodeler

Add one vote for replacing the Glacier Bay valve.

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