Monday, March 20, 2017

Glacier Bay 18-inch Concealed Grab Bar Review

The Glacier Bay 18-inch Grab Bar with concealed mounting screws is ultimately a good product, once installed.  However, it is poorly designed for mounting.

As the instructions say, "Studs are usually 16 in apart." However, the grab bar is 18 inches long, which means that the only mounting holes that will align over a pair of 16 inch apart studs are the two underneath the bar, making it difficult to get a screwdriver in.

Worse, the instructions SAY to position the bar over the studs and mark the mounting holes, but the drawing shows pencils marking mounting holes at 18 inches, not 16. And the unlabeled ruler designed to  help you install the bar shows 18 tick marks between the marked mounting holes, not 16.

So I marked the actual stud locations for both ends of the grab bar and drilled 1/8-inch pilot holes as the instructions indicated. But when I used my drill-driver to put in the screws, the screw heads were chewed out when the going got a little bit tough. I tried sinking three screws, using lots of pressure on the drill to prevent cam out, but the screws just chewed up. I had to back out the screws (which were half to an inch left to screw in) with a pair of  slip joint pliers. After that, I used some two-inch drywall screws, and they went in easily. So why is this company including cheap screws?

And why doesn't Glacier Bay make a 16-inch grab bar instead  of an 18-inch?

The bar, once installed correctly, is sturdy, attractive, and handy. The 1.25 inch diameter of the bar makes a nice fit for the hands.

P.S. On the outside of the mounting ring, where there was no stud under the mounting holes, I inserted a 50-pound-load nylon wall anchor into the drywall and then put in a two-inch screw. So the installation is very solid.

Of the ten models listed on the installation instructions, exactly none of them are 16, or 32 inches, which would meet stud needs.

So, I think I will continue shopping for another brand.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Pfister Pasadena 8 inch Widespread Faucet Review and Installation Hints

The Pfister Pasadena 8 inch Widespread Faucet (in various finishes) provides an excellent upgrade to an older bathroom vanity (my upgrade was from a 1998 installation). The water turns on and off effortlessly in a quarter turn.

Installation is easy (taking out the old, rusty or otherwise corroded faucet is the hard part).

Here are some hints to make your experience more pleasant.

1. Instead of  trying to turn the water off at  each supply valve, just turn the water off at the entrance to the house. After a few years, the supply valves (some of which have plastic valve stems) become so corroded that (A) you can't turn them off all the way, (B) they will leak when you turn them back on or (C) both A and B will occur.

2. When installing each valve, you are instructed to make sure the arrow on the bottom of the valve points toward the sink. But as you tighten things up. the valve can rotate slightly. How can you tell without crawling under the sink again? Answer: Use a Sharpie to mark the valve body when it is lined up. See the photos here for clarification;

When the valve body is lined up (note the arrow shape in the red plastic pointing toward the sink), use a Sharpie to draw a line on the top of the valve pointing toward the sink. Now, if you accidentally turn the valve while tightening it, you can see and realign it.

3. When you install the sink stopper unit, it hand tightens underneath. Be sure to tighten it a few extra twists when it feels snug and then check for leaks as soon as everything is hooked up. I had to tighten the unit in both sinks when I thought they were tight enough.

4. I didn't find the included multi-tool to be of much use.

This is a nice set. I have used it only a month as of this posting.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Moen Single Handle Shower Faucet Repair

This is the repair that really drove home the meaning of "retaining clip." This repair also fulfills my advice to "talk about your mistakes."

The shower hadn't been used in more than ten years, so I wasn't surprised to find the faucet knob frozen. I turned off the water, went to the shower, and pulled off the cap, unscrewed the screw holding the knob on, pulled up and out on the retaining clip, and grabbed the valve stem with a pair of pliers. (Actually, they are Channel Lock adjustable pliers, what used to be called water pump pliers.)

That was mistake #1. After some twisting and yanking, I pulled out what I thought was the valve core and headed off to Home Depot to find a match. Mistake #1 was remedied by the helpful HD guy, who told me the part I was going to buy was wrong because I  had removed only the central core of the valve stem. He gave me the right part and I  returned to the shower.

Key Item: In the package with the new valve stem is a nylon tool that fits in the notches of the outer valve core. Put it on and then use the pliers to rotate the entire valve core so that it loosens enough to pull out.

I installed the new valve core (or stem) into the valve after slathering it with silicone grease and replaced the retaining clip. But now the metal cylinder that is supposed to slide over the valve body wouldn't. The top of the retaining clip was sticking up too high. Examination of said clip revealed that it was kind of bent and wouldn't go all the way down. A search of the Home Depot and Lowe's web sites revealed that it was not a stock item. Mail order only.

Mistake #2. I was about to order, grumbling at the $4 to $5 shipping charge on top of a $4 to $8 charge for the clip, when my wife, who isn't much for tools, suggested I try a plumbing supply house. "OK Google" found one only a couple of miles from home.

It was a few days before I could return to the repair site with my nifty, new retaining clip, so of course I had turned the water on again in the meantime. (You can see where this is leading to Mistake #3, can't you?) So I step into the shower stall, grab my needle nose pliers, and yank out that bent old retaining clip. In a quite surprising demonstration of the retaining clip's name and purpose, the entire valve core instantly shot out of the valve body, followed by a fire-hose-like stream of water, aimed directly at my chest. For an old guy of 66, I'm not kidding that I dashed out of the shower, down the hall, through the entry way, out the front door and to the shut off valve for the house.

Cut to the chase. The valve core went back in, the new retaining clip slid all the way down, water turned back on, and all is right with the world.

Installation secret #1: Be sure to push the valve core all the way in so that the retaining clip can slide down. Twist the core to line it up so the clip slides in the grooves on the core

Installation secret #2: To be sure that twisting the knob left makes the water hotter and right colder, make sure the little tab on the knob stem part of the valve is facing up. If not, rotate it up.

Maybe the best idea is to get the whole kit at one time: