Saturday, January 22, 2011

1960's era Speakman-Kent Shower Valves

This is what I was faced with. The hot water valve kept dripping.
I had a bit of trouble getting the right information, but now that I have it, I wanted to share it. If you have Speakman Kent Shower Valves and you want to try replacing them, or replacing a washer (like I had to), you may find this information helpful.

Apparently, almost every shower valve is removed by using a special "bonnet wrench" that turns a six-sided nut type thing (which is actually part of the valve itself) deep inside your shower wall. Well, the Speakman-Kent valves in our house didn't have any any-number-of-sided flat areas inside or outside the wall to attach a wrench to. Everywhere I looked on the internet people were telling me that they were there, I just had to look harder or open the wall a bit more. They were all wrong.
The valve with handle removed. The nut-type thing you see there is the packing nut.
See? No bonnet nut deep in the wall. Just black pipe in there.
Another angle - no bonnet nut. And they wanted me to rip open the walls...

I went to the locally owned hardware store and the nice older guy there told me that the valve just backs out by unscrewing it, as if you were turning the water on and on and infinitely on, once you have removed the packing nut. He suggested putting the handle back on and unscrewing, which I had tried before to no avail. But my previous attempts had been a bit half-hearted, since I wasn't sure it what I was doing was right.

Once I got the "hardware store old guy" seal of approval, I put the handle back on, put on my gloves for extra grip, and lo and behold, the valve kept on turning and came right out. I was able to flip the washer over to re-use it, and then screwed the sucker back in, replaced the packing and packing nut, and I was back in business.

Anyway, in case you're searching for help on removing Speakman-Kent shower valves from the mid-60's (or possibly other eras), I hope you'll find this information useful.

37 comments:

  1. Hi. I just wanted to say that you are a lifesaver. I have the same exact assembly in my shower and could not get the stem out until I read your EXTREMELY helpful post. I had tried to thread the stem out, but was afraid of breaking it. But after reading your words of wisdom, I threw my back into it. Low and behold, it worked!! Thanks.

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    1. Thanks so much for your feedback and kind words. That's EXACTLY why I put this post up - just trying to help out the other "me's" out there who were struggling with these old things. Glad it helped!

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  2. Hi,I would just like to caution anyone working on these...Too much force and you could shear that brass stem! Remove the packing nut. Using an awl or pick remove the packing taking care not to damage the threads for the packing nut. Then just back out the stem. No force required. Good luck!

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  3. Just saw the comments (not sure why I didn't get notification)... glad it was helpful, and thanks for the additional advice on picking out the packing!

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    1. HELP! ..... Like others I found your initial post and pics invaluable. With that said I replaced the washers on my mother in laws Speakman-Kent shower valves and stopped the non-stop dripping (good). However, when the faucet is on- a small amount of water is dripping out of the bottom edge of the packing nut (bad). While the leak only occurs while in use- I do not want to leave it this way.
      1) Is there a specific technique to place the packing??? The area is very tight due to the trim cylinders that are in place.
      2) I was using Teflon tape as I had on similar jobs with success. Is the a special packing required on these? And how/where do you place it prior to replacing the stem and tightening down the packing nut?

      Thanks in advance!

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    2. I'm not a plumber (obviously) and I had the same thing happen. Here's how I fixed it:
      - I tried using the fibrous rope-style packing that was originally on there but it leaked
      - I bought some teflon rope (not wrap) packing and replaced the fibrous rope packing.
      - The first time I used way too much and couldn't get the valve in so I tore off part of it, was able to get it seated and tightened down with no dripping.
      - Bear in mind that the rope will compress when you screw it in so you need some extra but not so much that you can't screw it in

      Good luck!

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    3. Thank you so much for your reply as I am hoping to finish this today. I am familiar w/ the rope style packing and will head to Sears hardware shortly... One final question though- are you inserting the stem first and then packing with a pick or punch while it is place or are you wrapping the Teflon rope on the stem first- then inserting the whole assembly?

      Thanks again- I truly appreciate the insight.

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    4. A little of both. I wrapped then inserted but had to add a little more when it was partially in place to make sure it was tight.

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  4. Worked great...

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  5. I have those same handles, or HAD, I should say! I had NO idea they were so valuable and difficult to find. Had to re-tile my shower - new tile thicker than the old - this has turned out to be a nightmare and possibly a very expensive mistake. I threw the handles away because they were so incredibly gross. I saved one so I could shop for replacements. Guess what? I can't find them. At this point, I don't care if they match. I just would like to be able to shower without using a pair of pliers to turn the water on and off! Anyone out there have a pair of Speakman Kent handles that will work?

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  6. I'm having the reverse problem. I was able to get mine out and replace a washer, but now I can't get it back together. I'm using a long 3/4" socket in an attempt to repack the packing nut, and getting nowhere.

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    1. Okay, reading the comments and playing around a little more my issue is with the packing material. It seems to be too much material now to be able to tighten the nut. Nut cinches no problem with the packing material removed. Will try the teflon rope and hope for the best!

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    2. Yeah, you nailed it. If there's too much packing material, the nut won't grab the threads and it will just spin in place without engaging. Good luck!

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  7. Great writeup, but I need some help/clarification. I have the nut loose, reattached handle and unscrewed the valve, but it just keeps turning and never "comes out". I have pulled on it with quite a bit of pressure, but it still doesnt come out. Also, I was unable to remove the chrome "stem" that covers the valve. I got the collar with set screw off, but the stem cover didnt come off. Not sure if that is causing me issues at this point or not and Im not sure how much force to put on these things. Any help/advice?

    Thanks

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    1. You have to actually remove the packing nut, not just loosen it. I'm not sure what you're referring to as a "chrome stem" so maybe you have a different shower valve than I did?

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    2. I too have chrome sleeves around the barrel of the stem. I have removed the packing nut and turned the stem counter clockwise to get to the packing, the spring, but the rest of the stem would not budge. Any idea on how to remove the sleeves without having to crack open the wall?

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  8. What a relief to find this article! I just spent a hour or so trying to figure out my shower valve! Had it apart, and lots of head scratching and internet searching! First time home owner with a home built in 1952! Thank you! Worked like a charm!

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  9. Hi, Christopher. Were you able to find replacement tiles? I have the exact type and color in our bathroom.

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    1. Thanks for reading! The original tiles in that bath were slightly larger than the standard 4x4 tiles you'll find at the big box home improvement stores. I was able to nip off the little built in spacers on the new tiles (the old style didn't seem to have those) and they fit in the space I had.

      Good luck!

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  10. Christopher, thanks a million for the post. My mother's hot water shower valve has been leaking around the stem for some time. She had a 'plumber' (and I do use that word loosely) come over and his advise was to replace the faucets (which involved re-tiling the shower.) I spent more time looking to buy a cutoff valve (which I installed in the crawl space under the house, so I wouldn't have to keep water shut off to the rest of the house if this procedure went south) than I did replacing the washer (for good measure) and re-packing the valve. No drips either way.

    Has anyone found what size washer is required for these Speakman Kent faucets? I used one sized "1/4" at the local Do-it-Best hardware, but it was a tad over diameter for the recess and did not seem as thick as the old one I pulled out.

    Thanks again for the assist.

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    1. Sorry - I just saw your comment. My solution may not be recommended, but because my valve seats are kind of shot, I use two washers. I can't remember if they're size 0 or size 00. It was like $2 for a box of 10 so I bought one of each and used whichever fit best. I use a flat one tight against the valve, in the recessed spot, and then stack a beveled washer on top of that, and screw them both in.

      https://knoji.com/images/user/200_packing_washers.jpg

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  11. First thanks for the post. I am fighting with a leaky valve and am stuck. I pop off the screw cover in the front and remove the screw, but the handle will not spin off the assembly. This keeps the chrome sleeve in place so I cannot access the packing nut.
    I am afraid to force it any more than I already have as it comes to a dead stop. Any idea what is holding it up, and how to get the handle off?
    Thanks

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    1. The handle is calcified to the valve stem. It's a bitch to remove, and the only way I've been able is to use a Handle Puller, available for about $10 from Home Depot.

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  12. Thanks for the post....it's a big help in understanding the Speakman Kent faucet repair. I'm stuck though: I've removed the cover/handle and am trying to remove the packing nut with an 11/16 deep socket. The packing nut doesn't come off though..it just turns and turns. Any thoughts on what I may be doing wrong or what I should do next? thanks!

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    1. That's strange. It's just like any other nut. Once it's free of the threads, it should just slide off. Maybe it's kind of stuck in place and you can use some needle nose pliers to grab it and pull it off? If it's just spinning and spinning it must be out of the threads.

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  13. Thanks! You were exactly right and I was able to use a pick to take out the packing nut. I then put the handle back on, turned counterclockwise and the valve stem turned until it was disconnected. However the valve stem won't come out: it's disconnected along its shaft (I can pull it in and out freely about an inch) but there is something in the back keeping it from coming out apparently. Any thoughts? Thanks very much! LJ

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    1. I'm guessing it's hung up on the actual packing. On mine (before I replace it) the packing was this wool felt stuff that had kind of come unraveled. It expanded a little with the residual water in the valve, so the stem didn't come right out. You should be able to just pull a little harder once the valve is free of the threads and it will force that packing material out ahead of the brass valve.

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  14. where can one buy the chrome valve stem cover tubes? and would plumbers grease on the threads of the stem cover help keep it from getting stuck on the stem? and would the grease keep the handle from getting stuck?
    thanks for any help.

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    1. I'm not really sure - I'm not a plumber at all so I'm not sure if the grease would help. I've had to change out the washers more than once and I've found it much easier to remove the handles on subsequent attempts.

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  15. Any hints as to removing the diverter in the middle? I have no trouble getting the hot or cold handles off, but man oh man, NOTHING can make that center handle come off. Not even a faucet puller. Is there a trick? Any thoughts appreciated!

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  16. Any hints as to removing the diverter in the middle? I have no trouble getting the hot or cold handles off, but man oh man, NOTHING can make that center handle come off. Not even a faucet puller. Is there a trick? Any thoughts appreciated!

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    1. I haven't tried to remove the center handle but I don't see why the handle puller wouldn't work. One thing I had to do with the hot and cold handles is screw a longer flathead machine screw into the stem to give my handle puller a little more leverage.

      Sorry I couldn't help. Good luck!

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    2. That's a helpful hint. I'll try it. Would you happen to know the size of the stems for replacement? 10P-7H/C?

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    3. Check out this website: http://www.edyoungs.com/shopping/stems/stems_length.htm

      Based upon that site, I'm guessing mine are the 8P-2H/C - http://www.homedepot.com/p/DANCO-8P-2H-C-Stem-for-Speakman-Tub-Faucets-15565B/202066429. My cold valve seat is shot and it's probably 30-50 years old so I doubt I'd be able to remove it, so probably looking at replacing the whole setup in the next year or two.

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  17. This supply company has complete speakman remodel kits and parts as well

    CONTACT US
    PHONE : (513) 721-5286
    Toll Free : 1-888-ASK-NOEL
    EMAIL : NOELSPLUMBINGSUPPLY@FUSE.NET
    ADDRESS : 2985 Glendale Milford Rd
    Cincinnati OH 45241

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    1. Thanks for the resource. Here's a direct link to their website: http://www.noelsplumbingsupply.com/.

      I've considered rebuilding but I fear I won't be able to remove the faucet seat, which is visibly damaged (preventing a good seal), and I'll end up damaging it beyond repair. I may just wait for the next bathroom remodel to replace it all with a modern one-handle valve.

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  18. The packing I found in mine consisted of a felt washer impregnated with silicone grease. The felt appears to be a wool or at least something akin to the felt feet slides use on furniture to protect hardwood flooring. I would describe it as barrel shaped maybe a little wider than its height, and thickness of material being less than 3/16 approximately. This packing was necessary for the ease of turn of the valve as the rubber and teflon packing failed in turn or sealing up the water in my first effort. at replacement time I bought more than I need and have after several years developed a dribble due to a bent shaft from my first poor attempt at shaft removal. The package says it is a Danco product described as "felt bonnet packing 5/8 OD x 3/8 ID x 1-5/16. The packing felt has a rubber washer on either end matching its diameters. The product number is 35233C and appears to be sold as a sink faucet packing. Please be cautious, as I thought it was interesting no one mention the felt packing but I want to be clear my shower has no central mixing valve, just H and C but the packing nut and shaft and so forth are like the one in the OP.

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