Fixing a screechy faucet?
February 22, 2006 6:14 AM   Subscribe

My bathtub/shower faucet has developed a loud, annoying screech when the temperature is above medium. How can this be fixed?

I can't find a model number, but it appears to be a Delta model 635 or 636. Googling suggests that this problem can be solved by replacing a gasket, but I don't immediately see which part of the faucet should be replaced. The Maintenance and Installation Guide doesn't seem to cover this problem either. Any suggestions for what needs to be done?

Also, is this a suitable DIY project (I'm reasonably handy and have a decent set of tools, but haven't worked on plumbing before, just electronics and occasionally my car) or do I need to call in a pro?
posted by Zonker to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
the problem you have is air and/or water going where it shouldn't go. thats whats makes the sound, this is all i know. (it could also be that the air/water going where it shouldn't is shaking the pipes up against something. sorry cant help more.
posted by stilgar at 6:18 AM on February 22, 2006

My washing machine does the same thing when I use HOT water.

ANY help would be appreciated by me as well as it is really annoying.
posted by captainzero at 6:24 AM on February 22, 2006

My showerhead used to make this noise. I took it off, inspected it, cleaned it out a bit, put it back on, and no more noise. I don't know....
posted by maxpower at 6:36 AM on February 22, 2006

Bleed the lines, sounds like you've got air.

As it isn't terribly hard to do, that's sort of a default starting solution to hot water/radiator problems.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:44 AM on February 22, 2006

Second maxpower's suggestion to first verify your showerhead isn't restricted or full of crud, as this can put enough back pressure on your diverter valve to make it sing. A little CLR in a plastic baggie, and maybe some old toothbrush action could solve your problem.

One thing to figure out is whether the noise is occurring because of the diverter valve or the mixing valve. If the diverter is causing the problem, you should get a different sound if the water is going to the bathtub faucet vs. the showerhead. You might also feel some vibration in the diverter valve stem, more in one position than the other. If changing the diverter valve position doesn't much affect the problem, but changing the rate of flow in the mixing valve does, the problem is more likely the mixing valve. For a Delta 635, the diverter valve is the far more common source of noises, and the stem is a replaceable part that doesn't require turning off the water.

If the mixing valve is the problem, you'll need to locate and shutoff the water below the valve fixture, and then remove the cover plate, disassemble the valve, and replace the O-ring, cartridge or ball assembly, as needed. The practicality of doing this yourself is primarily related to your finding the shut-off valves, (which might actually be your whole house shut-off), and being able to disassemble and replace the defective part. Delta faucets are pretty straight forward, and you might visit your local hardware store first for some advice and "show me" before tackling the job.
posted by paulsc at 6:47 AM on February 22, 2006

Don't forget... if your shower isn't on the top floor and someone above opens a tap while you have the water shut off and are working on your shower... you'll get soaked! :-)

I would suggest you let all the water out first, just in case someone doesn't heed your message...
posted by shepd at 7:19 AM on February 22, 2006

My upstairs shower was doing that until it motivated me to simply change the shower head with a new one. Instant gratification, plus the pressure coming out of the shower head increased significantly.

I know from cleaning my kitchen faucet that a lot of small, black bits clog up the water saving insert and causes the faucet to slow and become noisy. I assume that happens on shower heads as well since most of them also have a water saving "feature" which simply creates a restricted opening and adds air like Pollomacho says.

A few months ago I replaced my shower head with a cheap WallyWorld head for the same reason you are talking about. It was great, right up until we had a water main break down the street a month ago. Then the water turned brown the night they finished fixing it. Now the water pressure is decreasing and the whining noise is beginning to return. I bet debris is trapped inside the shower head near the openings of the water saving filter. Don't know how to clean those or if they are cleanable so I just plan on using cheap replacements every year or so, it doesn't take that long to replace for under $10.
posted by SparkyPine at 7:26 AM on February 22, 2006

FWIW, if your problem is related to accumulating crud in your fixtures, you might look into replacing your hot water heater. They apparently have a useful lifetime of about 12 years, after which time their linings can start to disintegrate into the house's water supply.
posted by macinchik at 9:53 AM on February 22, 2006

Don't forget... if your shower isn't on the top floor and someone above opens a tap while you have the water shut off and are working on your shower... you'll get soaked! :-)

Why does that happen?
posted by Opposite George at 3:52 PM on February 22, 2006

Never mind. I figured it out.
posted by Opposite George at 4:08 PM on February 22, 2006

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