$2000 for shower/tub valve and trim kit?

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hydronical

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Plumber replaced Kohler cartridge in shower/bath. Leaked again after he left. Returned to replace it again, but this time he said the valve body was leaking, so he shut-off water to entire apartment unit (not the building). Now wants to charge $2000 to replace the valve and install new trim kit, using Wolverine Brass products. The shower is tiled and there is no access from other side of wall. Apartment was built in 2005. New owner did not move in yet.
Q1 - Is this fair?
Q2 - Wolverine Brass? Plumber said, "there isn’t too many choices since the tile will not be taken out. This is the only company that sells a kit that can be installed where tile person is not needed. I been installing them for the last 20 years"
 

breplum

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Pictures of trim and with trim off please...
I have never encountered a leaking brass valve body.
$2k is what I charge for eight hours. There are lots who charge less.
K304 was one of the main tub/shower rough-in valves in that era.
I don't know what Wolverine makes that would be different than other mfrs.
There are the wall repair plates that go over old widespread eight inch hot/cold valves, for those we cut tile to make room for getting in there, and I rarely do in from the tile side.
1642382615409.pngThis is the Wolverine Brass large trim plate.
Pasco and others make large ones. Moen has their own.
 
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Twowaxhack

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I’d get some more estimates. No way a Wolverine brass faucet would be installled in my house. The trim looks cheap in my opinion.
 

hydronical

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First picture is the guest bathroom shower before trim was removed by plumber and he shut off the main water supply. Will have to get photo with trim removed tomorrow. Second photo is what plumber sent to show proposed trim plate, which looks exactly like what @breplum indicated. Last photo shows the Wolverine Brass parts plumber proposed to install.

Spoke to plumber again. He said valve was dripping before they arrived. He installed a new Kohler cartridge and then water began coming out of the valve body itself so he couldn't leave the water on. He sais this is the second time it's ever happened to him in 32 years. Only way to replace is to cut out body. He said there was nothing he could have done to keep water on in apartment because it would have dripped to downstairs neighbor. He said he already invested $300 in parts since those Kohler cartridges he installed are now garbage. Then he took $200 off his regular $2200 price (this is the proposal). Therefore, it's $500 plus discount in his mind. He would not breakdown parts and labor. Said it could take 3, 4, 5 hours - flat rate...

Please, any professional plumbers out there, need some advice here... :) Thanks!

This is the actual shower/tub:
Guess Bathroom tub shower.PNG

This is a sample photo of what the proposed trim plate looks like:
Wolverine Brass Trim Plate.jpg
These are the Wolverine Brass parts the plumber proposed to install:
Wolverine Brass.jpg
 
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Twowaxhack

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I’d find another plumber.

I don’t believe the valve itself is defective.

I’ve heard that 100 times on the phone and then I’ve went and successfully repaired the faucet.

“ so and so says it has to be replaced “

Yeah, uh huh, right.
 

hydronical

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Thanks @Twowaxhack... Sorry, I'm new to this forum. You're a plumber, correct? Reason I'm asking is because his original repair came with a one-year warranty, when he replaced the Kohler cartridge the first time. The shower was leaking, so the plumber returned couple months later and tried to install a new cartridge (did not charge for this visit). That's when the valve body started leaking. For whatever it's worth, he said this is only second time he's seen this in 32 years. So my question is whether he should cover the repair because he made the problem worse. Is this what his liability insurance covers? He shut off water main supply, so we're kind of stuck now. :-(
 

Twowaxhack

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I’m a licensed master plumber and a business owner.

I’d find another plumber.

Chances are the valve doesn’t need replacing.

If I called another plumber and it was successfully repaired I might would go after my original payment to the original plumber.

I’d also request in writing before hand stating why it MUST be replaced.
 
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hydronical

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Maybe this is a gray area. I can imagine that touching one thing can potentially break something else. Maybe that's legitimately what happened. Nonetheless, since the problem was WORSE after he left, does he have any professional responsibility without charging me more?

Exact wording from the $2000 estimate:

Guest Bathroom Tub and Shower Valve: Replaced two Kohler cartridges.
Neither worked
Have to replace complete valve
Cut tile open
Remove old tub and shower valve
Install new tub and shower valve
Install new chrome trim
Replace shower head
5 year parts and labor warranty

TASK DESCRIPTION
FT001 Wolverine Brass 1 Handle Tub/Shower Valve
Cut wall open. Remove old faucet. Install single handle pressure balancing valve. Install
remodel plate and trim
 

Twowaxhack

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If you don’t grease the oring on the cartridge they can pinch and roll rather than slide into the valve.

Basically he’s saying the valve body is leaking. I’m just not buying it.


Unless something else other than your Plumbing is broken or damaged by him then his liability isn’t going to cover it.


Again, I’d find another plumber.
 

hydronical

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Still thinking about the one-year warranty of the original repair and the fact that the problem is now worse than when he arrived to fix it the second time. There is no water in the apartment. That makes the situation fairly urgent and difficult to get other quotes. Did the plumber leave an acceptable situation by professional standards? If I want time to get other quotes, is it reasonable to have him isolate the problem at no charge, such that the rest of the apartment has water?
 

Twowaxhack

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He’s not obligated to warranty anything but the parts he installed.

He’s affirming that he replaced the parts three times and it’s your valve that’s at fault. Two times under warranty in one visit.

He met his obligation until you can prove the rough valve isn’t defective and is repairable.

Have a good one, goodluck.
 

hydronical

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Thanks!
I suppose you'd agree the job still sounds rather overpriced. What ballpark seems reasonable for entire job – valve, trim kit, wall plate & labor?
I truly appreciate your replies!
 

breplum

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My guess is still that it is a Kohler K304, it should have screwdriver stops, especially in a multi-unit dwelling. https://www.us.kohler.com/onlinecatalog/pdf/114811_4.pdf
The $2k pricing is not out of range for the complete replacement job.
Shutting off water to the apt. is responsible to prevent damage... but not a liability to the plumber to do anything further for free.
It is not reasonable to have him no-charge isolating that valve, there should be screwdriver stops on the valve. If not there, that is original builder stupidity.
 

hydronical

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Thank you @breplum. This is great information and much appreciated.
If the valve body truly is leaking, as unlikely as that may be, does it make sense to replace with the same valve body that is already installed? Will send pics as soon as possible.
 

Twowaxhack

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A Delta tub and shower valve with remodel plate would cost under $300 easy. No matter where you live.

Ok, so that leaves $1700 for labor and a few miscellaneous materials.

$1600 is a good days pay for one man and a helper in my area for inside work, replacing ONE tub/shower valve.

I guarantee You wouldn’t have any trouble getting me to come do it.


It would probably take me less than 3 hrs once I walked in the door. And I’m being generous......especially with help.
 

breplum

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We don't have any Wolverine distributors close by, it is a very good company and the valve body excellent, but harder to get parts here. The Kohler stuff, even good hardware stores have parts.
When we cut tile, we use a rotozip with vacuum attachment.
I will be surprised if your valve body is leaking.
 

Twowaxhack

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In nice homes I usually let the tileman remove the tile and put it back. The problem with Wolverine brass for me is the lack of parts on the shelf and that they’re ugly. The lack of parts on the shelf is by design.

I buy things from Wolverine but just not their faucets.
 

pakle

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I came across this recently not with plumbing but with my car. I had my struts replaced last year and noticed a noise a few months later. I assumed it was a different problem so I went back there and asked them to take a look. They claimed they heard the noise, thought it was another front end part, replaced that, and claimed the noise went away. Within a minute of driving the car, I knew the noise was still there. They offered to take another look but I figured that would be more money down the drain and honestly I lost confidence in them. I gave up until this year when I switched shops and they said the noise was from the struts. They advised me to go back to the original shop and tell them. I did, and that shop agreed to replace the struts under warranty (defective parts). The noise was finally gone.

Bottom line: I'd find another plumber based on what the experts here are saying (their track record is stellar). If another plumber fixes it without replacing the valve, then perhaps try to recoup some of what you paid to the original plumber as TWH suggests. But I wouldn't deal with the original plumber any more if I don't have confidence in what he's doing. Good luck!
 

hydronical

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I spoke to the original plumber. We had a very friendly conversation. He was very professional and offered a refund of $450 to cover the original repair. This was one item among a few other plumbing items that were repaired by him during the purchase of the apartment unit a few months ago. The original repair items were listed on the invoice but there was only one total price at the bottom. This means he charged $450 to replace a Kohler cartridge (not reasonable in my opinion). I did not even ask for this refund, but I also wondered why he didn't just offer a better price on the valve replacement.

I spoke to another licensed master plumber in the area, explained the situation, and shared the photos. He will do the job in the ballpark of half the price. This includes a basic Delta Monitor valve, trim kit and renovation cover plate. I think these renovation plates are made of plastic. Is it possible to have the plumber complete this job with the renovation cover plate now, and maybe I can get a tile guy to repair the tiles and remove that plate at some point in the future?
 
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