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I have a house from the late '20's and my hot water leaks in my tub. I've had it fixed a few times by plumbers and the last one said that to permanently fix it, I'm going to need to replace the whole shebang.

While I'm saving up for that, is there a less permanent option to address the issue? A rubber stopper?

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can you get to the pipe feeding the faucet and turn off a valve there? (or have a valve installed there to shut it off when you're not using it) –  ratchet freak Mar 30 '12 at 16:58
    
I pondered that. Not sure how much that would cost. Probably worth the walk to the basement for bathtime to save on hot water costs. –  Thomas Mar 30 '12 at 18:06
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If you were to try to cork the faucet, then it needs to be able to withstand the full pressure of your water supply since the leak will eventually equalize the pressure before it stops leaking. And this assumes you don't have a shower head and that other fittings after the valve are designed for full water pressure. In short, there's no easy "rubber stopper" solution that I know of. –  BMitch Mar 30 '12 at 18:39
    
That's what I suspected, thanks, @BMitch. –  Thomas Mar 30 '12 at 20:05
    
A picture would help. If you have an old-style faucet that uses a washer (ie, the faucet hasn't been replaced in the last 90 years), then the you might have to grind the seat as veljkoz mentioned. The fact that plumbers have "fixed" the problem with relatively low cost indicates that you do have washers, but I'm surprised that they didn't clean up the seat as a matter of course. So it's possible that there's something more to the problem. –  kdgregory Mar 31 '12 at 12:37
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2 Answers

Other than turning the water off at a location before the faucet, there is no real temporary fix - you either fix it, or you don't.

The problem with really old faucets is finding replacement parts. I had one from the '70s with a similar issue and I couldn't even get replacement parts. I opted to just replace it.

That being said, replacing it should not be a huge job. I was able to replace an old 3 handle faucet with a single handle faucet in a couple hours (my first real plmbing project). They make special remodel wall plates specifically for this that allow you to cut a large enough hole in the wall to replace the faucet, and then cover it up with the plate:

Remodel Wall Plate

If you are able to access the wall behind the shower then it is even easier since you can easily cut and repair a large drywall hole.

If you are handy you can definitely do it yourself, or call in a plumber to do it for you. I imagine a plumber would make quick work of this.

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Thanks. Wall access is very hard to get - plaster not drywall through the side and builtin drawers behind. –  Thomas Mar 30 '12 at 18:12
    
With the remodel plate, you can cut the hole in the shower side and cover it up afterwards. –  Steven Mar 30 '12 at 18:35
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(sorry about not knowing all the names of stuff, the english is not my native tongue)
Depending on the type of the faucet, there's an option for a really cheap and more permanent fix. We had a leaky faucet and each time the 'rubber-part-that-goes-inside-the-faucet-handle' (sorry, don't know the real translation :)) gets replaced, it works for a little while, but after a month or so you just can't turn the faucet hard enough to stop it from leaking.

I'm not sure if that's the problem you're having, but here's what was the problem in our case... the place where the faucet knob/handle goes in, if you unscrew that just like you're preparing to replace the rubber (provided you closed off the water in bathroom), you will see where the rubber on the inside of the handle touches the metal circle. The turning of the knob is what moves the rubber to and from the metal circle, giving the way of water to pass through. The problem here is that if the water is dripping for some time, the metal gets "eaten away" by the water, ie there's a canal going through it's surface, so no matter how hard you turn the knob the water passes through the canal. When you replace it the rubber is more flexible and it can fill in the gap, but after a while it hardens and that's when you need to replace it again.

The only solution here is to take off some of the metal. There's no way you can do it without a proper tool though - there's a special "screw" with metal teeth that you tie instead of the knob, and by turning it like a knob the metal teeth eat away at the metal evenly. That way the metal gets even, and now when you place your original knob it will hold the water in.

Hope it helps.

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+1 - it's the faucet seat, and there is a tool to do it but I couldn't find a link on the Home Depot site –  kdgregory Mar 31 '12 at 12:34
    
This is precisely the issue I have. Should I fear that with the age of my hardware that I would grind through too much metal and leave myself with an immediate need for replacement? –  Thomas Mar 31 '12 at 18:17
    
Age here is an issue only if this was already done before for several times. But usually, "in good old days" they've built these things to last and to be able to be fixed like this, so my guess is that you'll be OK. When you take off some of the metal the problem is not the reach of the knob, but the metal itself - take a look and see how much is left until the base of it. Usually you don't need more than 1-2 full turns for the teeth to make it even. You'll have to make that assessment for yourself, or maybe call some plumber... –  veljkoz Apr 1 '12 at 8:59
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