American standard 3 handle shower diverter

Discussion in 'General Plumbing Help' started by pasadena_commut, Sep 10, 2016.

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  1. Sep 10, 2016 #1

    pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut

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    Long intro, short question...

    My home was built in the later 1940s and has an American Standard three handle tub/shower in the main bathroom. When we moved in 20 years ago it worked fine but after some years it leaked more and more out the spout while in the shower position. Eventually I had to replace the cartridge, and the only one which I could find that fits is a Lasco S-961-4, which claims to be equivalent to an "American Standard 5184". This is not an exact replacement for the cartridge which was removed. That one retracted almost fully into the barrel, so it took about 3/4 turn to go from shower to tub positions. The Lasco plunger sticks out much further when retracted, so it only rotated about 1/2 turn between positions. It also leaked out the faucet from the get go, but not a huge amount. Eventually the first Lasco wore out (the plunger could move up and down without being rotated) and it was replaced by a second Lasco of the same number. It differs subtly from the first: it only allows 1/4 turn between positions, and the big nut that holds the stem in place was made badly, it is a hair too big for the wrench set (so I reused the old nut which did fit.) As before, in the shower position there is a substantial drip out the spout. That will get worse as the stem ages.

    In the tub position the rubber washer on the end of the plunger is pushed up against the seat, and it doesn't leak that way (nothing dribbles out of the shower head).

    In the shower position the plunger is fully retracted and the plunger fit into its barrel seems to be tight. However, the stem doesn't fit all that snugly into its cylinder, so that (I think) water is going around the stem from the sources on each side and draining out the faucet. There is no O ring on the plunger end of the barrel to prevent this, only the one at the handle end to prevent leaks out of the handle..

    So, what can be done to make these diverters divert 100% when in the shower position?
    I tried to find a real American Standard diverter on their site, but finding things there is next to impossible, and I was not successful.

    Here is a picture of the diverter stem:

    [​IMG]

    The first stem, which was in place when we moved in and did not leak at all originally, was not this Lasco. Viewed at that angle you could only see a sliver of the plunger.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
  2. Sep 29, 2016 #2

    havasu

    havasu

    havasu

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    Bump for any experts who could help?
     
  3. Oct 8, 2016 #3

    pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut

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    Bump again. Surely somebody else has seen this issue and can at least tell us what the problem is.

    In the meantime I have found stems by Danco and Kissler which in the pictures look exactly like the Lasco, and not like the original. Here is a link to the Kissler:

    http://www.chicagofaucetshoppe.com/Kissler-23-0038-p/kiss-23-0038.htm

    It may well be that the Lasco, Danco, and Kissler all come from the same source, these days most likely in China. All of these replacements have a taller "plunger" portion protruding from the tube than the original. Caliper measurements of the two units with the plunger full retracted are

    Lasco: outer cylinder length 2.95", cylinder outer diameter 0.79", stem protrusion from cylinder end 0.13" (just the metal, not including the rubber washer).
    Original: outer cylinder length 2.92", cylinder outer diameter 0.80" , stem protrusion from cylinder end .06".

    The precision of the protrusion measurement is probably +/- .02", because one can only eyeball the caliper setting, not clamp down on the metal. I measured the cylinder diameter several times for each and always found the same values. So I suppose it is possible that the Lasco leaves a 0.01" larger gap through which more water leaks. It is hard to see how that would result in the leakage being mostly hot water though, which is the case, and something I forget to mention in the first post.
     
  4. Apr 15, 2018 #4

    Geofd

    Geofd

    Geofd

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    the best thing you could do is bring the original stem in question to a plumbing supply house....along with detailed pics of your shower valve .....in my experience off brands don't work....
     
  5. Apr 15, 2018 #5

    TomFOhio

    TomFOhio

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    You sound like a very knowledgeable and hands on person. If you can get to the back of this faucet I believe moen
    makes a 3 handle faucet. Trying to repair a 70 years old faucet sometimes is not the way to go. Usually this old
    of a faucet is best to replace.
     
  6. Apr 15, 2018 #6

    lamothe1

    lamothe1

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    what if you replace the "O" ring with a generic one or the "O" from the replacement stem. the only thing that wears out are the rubber parts
     
  7. Apr 15, 2018 #7

    pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut

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    Re: "off brands" by TomFOhio. That is all there is. American Standard does not appear to make the diverter for this anymore.

    Re: "the only thing that wears out are the rubber parts" by lamothe1. In this case not true. One of the diverters had a big gash in the plunger part, where the cylinder had cut into it. I have also seen a cartridge for the hot (or maybe it was cold) worn so badly that there was play. (Grab the stem and it could be moved in and out without having to turn it.)
     
  8. Apr 16, 2018 #8

    lamothe1

    lamothe1

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    oh well, so much for my idea of an easy fix!:oops:
     
  9. Jun 4, 2018 #9

    pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut

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    Update.
    Yesterday I tried putting a washer on the distal end of the diverter. There were no flat washers at the hardware store that were skinny enough to fit between the plunger and the outer diameter, but there were O rings which were close: 13/16" OD, 5/8" ID x 3/32". Moved the plunger out, put the O ring around it moved plunger back in, which held the O ring tightly in position. Inserted until it hit the stop, tightened. That leaked not at all until the first time the plunger was moved to redirect to the faucet, at which point the O ring apparently popped off and it leaked out the faucet like a sieve. So that was no good. Retrieved the O ring with a hook on the end of a piece of wire.

    Next I tried cleaning the seat. Not the one the plunger closes to keep water out of the shower head, the one that stops the tube of the diverter from going any further into the wall. It is way the heck in there and only about 2 millimeters wide and impossible to see (with my crappy eyes.) First ran the dull end of a bamboo skewer around and around about 20 times to dislodge anything that might be stuck there. Then dipped a toothbrush in vinegar and scrubbed that area. Did that over and over for about 10 minutes, rinsing it out once and a while. Finally put the diverter back in, without the nut, put the handle on it, and turned it in the "closed direction" so that it rotated 20 times. The goal was to grind off, smooth out anything that might still be there. Then put the nut back on, tightened a little, turned the water on, diverter to shower position. It leaked like a sieve, tightened the nut slowly and the leak reduced to a slow dribble. That is much, much better than it was, perhaps 1/100th the flow out the faucet in the shower position.

    So, what I think is needed to eliminate the final leakage is one of two things: some special tool to clean up the flange where the diverter sits so that there is a perfectly flat metal to metal junction, or, alternatively, a very thin flat washer with the same OD/ID as that O-ring, which can compensate for the slight imperfections in the seat or end of the diverter.
     

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