A critical step in any supply-side plumbing repair
I picked up a message from John L. late yesterday afternoon. It seems that everything went as smoothly as we laid out. Almost. It appears, and I am kicking myself now, that I missed a fairly crucial step for him.
After cutting the water, and since his tub repair was happening on the first floor of the home, I should have suggested that he bleed some additional water from the plumbing lines before beginning work on the faucet’s stems.
After he removed the problem stem, a steady stream of water ran from the faucet body for about five minutes. What happened here? Well, after shutting the water off, and while it did stop the steady flow of water to fixtures, it did not remove any of the water already in the lines. Therefore, gravity went to work. And it appears that water in the lines from the second floor chose this location for its outlet.
How could this have been avoided?
First, maybe, I could work on not being such a dumbass. And second, we needed to have him bleed a little bit of the water out of the system. This is usually accomplished by a matter of elevation. And yes, I do mean elevation, that is, the elevation of a fixture above sea level.
When shut off values are equipped with a waste outlet, you can open these little grooved nuts, and drain uphill water at a safe location in the basement, usually into bucket. These are known as Stop and Waste Valves (and some like these push fit valves are surprisingly easy to install). While many older homes are not equipped with these types of values, there are other less hi-tech options.
While it is not totally necessary to drain all water from the system, if I simply would have suggested that he opened the lavatory faucet in the bathroom he was working (at a higher elevation than he was working), he probably would have fared a little bit better.
A more thorough job of draining the system could have been accomplished by opening both the highest fixture and lowest fixture in his house. In doing this, it creates a kind of venting effect that will bleed a majority of the water out of the plumbing system.
As with a lot of things, it is really only a matter of physics
I encourage anyone that has a better concept of these matters, and I know there are many of you, to please write in.