Join 3,433 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Faucet, tap, spigot. Whatever. It's busted.
July 26, 2010 4:30 PM   Subscribe

Bathroom sink faucet is leaking all over. Sink shutoff valves won't budge. Now what?

OK, so I turned the sink faucet to the one little spot where it won't leak anymore. But attempt to use it again and it could very well leak like super crazy everywhere. Temporary solution would be to shut off the water to the sink. Great! But the knobs are very stuck. (Which way should they turn anyway?)

Is the easiest solution (for not-at-all handy people) to run over to Lowe's, buy a whole new sink/vanity, and call a plumber tomorrow to come install it? If so, what do we need to know about that other than the size of vanity we'd need? Or is there something else we should be doing?

Another solution would be to just replace the sink part, but the vanity sucks. May as well do the whole mess at once, right?
posted by dayintoday to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
 
You don't need a whole new sink or vanity, or even a new faucet. It's probably just a 10 cent washer or o-ring that needs replacing, and the plumber will have those.

As for the shut-off valves, turning to the right (clockwise) closes the valve and shuts off the water. If they're stuck, they'll need to be replaced too.
posted by zsazsa at 4:35 PM on July 26, 2010


Turn the valve to the right to turn it off. To get some extra traction (assuming you don't have a wrench or any other tools), find something rubber and grippy. One of those jar openers, perhaps. Or the underside of your bathmat if it's no-skid. Or some rubber bands looped around the knob. You can also try stepping on it to push it in the right direction with a sneakered shoe.
posted by phunniemee at 4:38 PM on July 26, 2010


In the extreme case you have to cut off water for the whole residence in order to replace the cutoff valve.

But probably your best course of action at this point is to call a plumber.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:48 PM on July 26, 2010


You may have to shut off the water to your house - that's what I had to do when my hot water heater started leaking all over the place and the shutoff valve was stuck solid.

or on preview, what Chocolate Pickle said.
posted by deadmessenger at 4:51 PM on July 26, 2010


You certainly don't need a new sink or vanity, and probably not even a new faucet unless it's some disposable plastic $20 special. Unfortunately you can't figure out what part you need, let alone do the repair, without shutting off the water. As suggested above, turn the shutoff valve handles clockwise to shut them off. If they're really, really stuck then don't push your luck; if you break one and it starts spraying water everywhere and you can't stop it, you'll be in real trouble. Call a plumber and let him deal with it.
posted by jon1270 at 4:51 PM on July 26, 2010


When the shutoff valve is too hard to turn by hand, grab an asjustable wrench and use it to twist. I don't mean use it perpendicular to the knob like you would with a nut, but rather open the jaws all the way and use them to grip the knob and turn like a screwdriver, with the long dimension of the wrench co-axial with that of the valve. This gives you much better grip and leverage, and that hard to turn valve will open up easily.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:10 PM on July 26, 2010


Replace the vanity? What? Is that like buying a new car because the ashtray is full? It's highly unlikely you need a whole new vanity cabinet, sink and faucets. Now, if you'd like to use this as an excuse to replace the vanity, then now's as good a time as any to consider it. More than likely you just need a new faucet setup and some shut off valves.

It's not all that hard to fix plumbing. You could replace your faucet setup relatively easily. The shut off valves would take a bit more work. Truthfully, paying a plumber to do the job is probably a good idea. Mistakes with plumbing can lead to leaks, and some VERY, VERY EXPENSIVE problems due to water damage. This is a simple job for most plumbers.

And if you don't already know where it's located, find your whole house water shut off valve. In the event of a serious leak (like a burst pipe) knowing where it's located and how to close it can save you from a tremendous amount of trouble.
posted by wkearney99 at 5:11 PM on July 26, 2010


If you decide to replace the shutoff valves, consider ball valves. They cost quite a bit more, but avoiding the expense and annoyance of one stuck valve incident in the future makes them well worth the money, IMHO.
posted by Bruce H. at 5:31 PM on July 26, 2010


When the shutoff valve is too hard to turn by hand, grab an asjustable wrench and use it to twist.

Only do this if you are very, very sure that the pipe inside the wall is strong, rather than old and corroded. Trying this with a crappy old pipe will result in a broken pipe inside your wall which is far, far worse than a leaky sink. Be gentle with old, cruddy valves, and be sure before you start that you know how to find and use the shutoff valve for the whole house.
posted by Forktine at 5:35 PM on July 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree with forktine. If the handle refuses to turn, check out the threaded nut that the handle comes out of, it might help to back this off a quarter turn or so. Sometimes that nut is cranked down so hard the handle can't turn. Just keep in mind that that threaded nut is what holds the handle in and allows it to close off the water flow. Remove that nut completely and you will have a geyser. IANAP.
posted by InkaLomax at 5:49 PM on July 26, 2010


You seem to want to replace the vanity, so, sure, go ahead. It's pretty easy, not that expensive (although you can go nuts, I guess), and no one will ever complain that you did it. You might need a basin wrench. If you're replacing the shut off valves, you could find that you need another tool (sorry, don't remember the details, but I did), so you might want to factor in the cost of tools vs. plumber.

For future reference, lefty loosey, righty tighty.
posted by sageleaf at 5:51 PM on July 26, 2010


call a Plumber.
posted by patnok at 5:57 PM on July 26, 2010


Replace the vanity? What? Is that like buying a new car because the ashtray is full?

Ha! Kind of! I should have mentioned, and forgot in my freakout mode, that awhile back our plumber mentioned that the whole faucet and whatnot was pretty crappy and to just deal with at least the sink/faucet all at once. And the vanity is just ugly.

When the shutoff valve is too hard to turn by hand, grab an asjustable wrench and use it to twist.

Only do this if you are very, very sure that the pipe inside the wall is strong, rather than old and corroded.


Good call. We know things are pretty old and possibly corroded thanks to hard water, so we'll play it safe. Plumber will get a call in the AM. Thanks, everyone!
posted by dayintoday at 6:20 PM on July 26, 2010


If the shut off valves under the sink don't work there must be a valve that shuts off supply to the entire house that you can use so you can complete the repairs necessary.
posted by csmason at 5:55 AM on July 27, 2010


« Older Experiences with Gazelle, Next...   |  Looking for an older note of g... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.