The Plumber: Research to save on tub/shower fix

Ed Del Grande
Tribune News Service

Dear Ed: I have an older tub and shower unit with problems. First, the rusted chrome valve trim, tub spout and handle all need to be replaced. Second, the tub drain lever does not work and water will not stay in the tub. Third, the showerhead is full of water deposits and the flow is weak. I don’t know where to start. But, before I call my plumber, is there some legwork I can do to lower the cost of this job?

Mary, Rhode Island

Dear Mary: Wow, I can address many tub/shower problems with this one question. Even if you’re working with a plumber, you can do some research and have the major parts at the job site, ready for the plumber. This may save some money.

First, you need to get the make and model of your mixing valve and see if trim parts are still available. Calling the factory help line of the valve manufacturer can help with this quest. If parts are not available, the entire valve may have to be replaced.

Second, the tub trip waste drain assembly is a separate unit and most plumbing supply houses should carry a replacement unit to fit your tub. Take a photo of your drain assembly with you to the supply house.

Finally, for an easy showerhead choice, visit a home center that features a hands-on shower display area. You should be able to help lower labor costs, so don’t throw in the towel just yet on your repair projects.