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Question DetailsAsked on 10/11/2016

How much does it cost to replace a tub faucet, hot and cold handles and valves? Is $900 a fair estimate for Philly?

We have a plumber at our house now for what was a leaky tub faucet. The tub is made up of a faucet, two hot and cold cross handles, and a single diverter above them that allows you to switch between the shower head, the tub faucet and a separate shower hose. Apparently we have a unique set up where a normal faucet today just has one handle to turn the water on and twist between hot/cold, we have two plus the diverter for the shower/hose. The plumber said he went to three different supply stores trying to find replacement parts for the faucet valves and there is no brand name on any of our parts and no replacement parts, so he is estimating $900 to replace the faucet, valves and the hot and cold handles with new parts. We were only expecting $250 to fix the leak and now it's turning into a much larger project and because the plumber already did a lot of the leg work to try and find replacement parts, we need to stick with him. I want to know if $900 is a fair quote for the project.

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Not an unusual issue with older or "period decor" homes - though I am somewhat surprised that he could not find replacement bushings and washers at a supply house to match the parts he took out to stop the leak - or for the stem cone washer if odd shape perhaps use a flat washer and waxed plumbers gasket thread instead to make a seal. This assumes the metal seat in the faucet is not badly scored - if the leak has been allowed to go for a long time or the faucet is many scores of years old he might not be able to remilll the metal seat good enough to get a watertight seal. (Remilling uses a tool to resurface the brass seat that the valve stem washer seals against to shut off the flow). Also, if the leak is due to badly corroded valve stem or bonnet or such, lacking replacement parts that fit you are stuck with new fixtures.

Replacing your setup with two individual faucets and a tub spout (to use the existing faucet holes, so no replacement/repair to tile or surrounded needed is one solution - other is replacing with a modern single-handle faucet and tub spout with built-in diverter, and then having to repair the existing faucet holes (or use decorative cover escutcheon plates to cover them up and waterproof them). Either way, with normal grade hardware like Peeerless or Delta single-handle faucet, $500-1000 would be a normal cost depending on accessibility issues - potentially much more with high-end hardware or hard access, so I hate to say it but sounds in the normal range. You need to discuss with him the options and access - usually coming in from the back to minimize or eliminate any damage to the shower surround is the best plan - but sometimes you end up having to cut through the surround because back side access is not viable because of a backing bathroom shower or such, so sometimes it becomes a tradeoff of possibly higher plumber cost to minimize having to do a major tile repair or even panel replacement on the surround. Usually, a hundred or two more plumber cost is worth it, because surround repair is likely to be $150-200 even for a very small repair, and can quickly mushroom to $500 or so, so generally to be avoided if at all possible.

If he has to come in from behind that wall to do the plumbing (usually does), make up your mind (and tell him) whether you can accept a plastic or metal maintenance cover plate over the access hole (typically a foot or two in size) or if you will have a Handyman repair the drywall/plaster and repaint the repair - or DIY after he is done.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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