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Old 12-07-2019, 01:14 PM   #1
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2016 30' Classic
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2016 Classic leaky shower head

We're on shakedown cruise with a new to us Classic. In limited previous use we observed that the shower head would leak water whenever the system was pressurized so we were left to turning off the pump except for brief moments when it was needed. Time to fix it.

When we picked up the AS, the water filter cartridge under the sink was cracked, suggesting exposure to cold temps during a Pacific Northwest winter when the AS sat unused.

All else appears well with the exception of the shower head. Its a Kohler unit so I surmised that the plastic balance valve may have frozen and cracked or some seals were dried out due to none use. The previous owner never used the shower. There is a button on the shower head directly but that doesn't affect the leak one way or the other.

Anyone had experience in this realm or recall a previous thread? Did I read in a thread that someone was told by a tech that this type of leak is normal? AS tech support tells me that accessing the balance valve requires removal of the starboard bedroom TV wall. I suspect it's easier if not altogether necessary to slightly enlarge the hole in the shower.

Thanks for any suggestions you can provide
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Old 12-07-2019, 04:48 PM   #2
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You may well be right something froze in the shower head or valve. Perhaps it was checked at the dealer and thus there was water in the hose or shower head while sitting on a dealer's lot and then when the previous owner had it, but never used the shower.

You don't say exactly what is leaking. If the shower head itself, most showers have the same size hose connection and you could simply take a shower head from home and try it on the Airstream hose. If the connection between the head and the hose is leaking, replace the hose washer. Might as well do the one at the other end of the hose too. In the past few years hose washers have been of really poor quality and lots of new ones leak or soon will. Freezing could affect them of course.

If it is the valve, then you should be able to take the cover off and look inside and see if you find a leak there. But if it is inside the valve, you might not see anything. There could be a leak inside the wall if the interior plumbing was not drained each winter. If so, you will eventually find water somewhere below.

If the button on the shower head is leaking, a new shower head should solve it. I did find a shower head with a shut off button at Lowe's or Home Depot years ago in the section with shower heads for homes. I had it look pretty hard, but did find it and those would be cheaper than an Airstream part and probably of higher quality. If you can't find a shower head with a shut off on it, look below for another solution.

In tracking down problems, look for the simplest solution and work back from the head. Washers are the most common source of leaks where hoses are used, and next, would be other seals if you can access them. A loose plumbing connection can also be the simple problem. When winterizing, you should always run RV antifreeze through both showers to prevent valve problems (same for toilet, also a pain to replace toilet valve).

There is a simple solution. It is not as pretty. Where the plumbing connections comes out of the wall, buy a valve that fits both ends and turn it off there. You could do it at the head where the hose connects, but it is more ugly there. Then you can see if the mixing valve works by trying it. Note that when you turn off the shower at the head (or elsewhere) to save water and especially hot water, the water in the hose cools quickly and when you turn it on again you will briefly get a blast of cold water and then hot again. Aim the shower head away from you for that moment.

Since I cannot tell if the leak happens when the pump is on (or city water too I suppose) and the mixing valve is closed, or if the leak happens when the pump is on at someplace where there is a connection, it is hard to diagnose. If the mixing valve is leaking, a second shut off can solve it as long as the mixing function still works. If you have to replace the mixing valve because the mix function has also failed, and if the shower wall is plastic, you may be able to cut a small square hole in the plastic to remove the valve and then glue a plastic patch in place. You will have to figure out what glue works on the plastic—plastic can be troublesome when it comes to glue. I would use a different color plastic or a decorative piece because then the patch will look intentional rather than a mistake. Removing a wall is fine for those with lots of money to spend, but a patch would cost lots less in labor and some materials. The connections to the valve may be PEX couplings and then you will have to learn how to replace them too. There should be three—hot, cold, mixed water to shower head. Or it may be possible to replace the mixing (and pressure balance valve too) parts inside without removing the valve housing. Don't count on that however.

Good luck. Plumbing has been designed to make people crazy. And don't forget to wear your special plumber's pants—it is part of the uniform.
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Old 12-07-2019, 07:27 PM   #3
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Hi

In a hard freeze situation, the water heater is the thing you loose the most money on. They do freeze and crack. Your situation may just be somebody getting lazy and not quite getting it all blown out ....

Bob
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Old 12-07-2019, 09:11 PM   #4
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Leaky shower valve

Shut off water
Take Handel off shower valve
Take cartridge out of valve on inside of body
Replace cartridge.bring to Home Depot
They should have replacement valve cartridge.
Cartridge is leaking not shower head
Canít replace washers any more
Jim. Plumber
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Old 12-08-2019, 09:51 AM   #5
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Thank you for taking time out of your day to respond. All good information to consider. I'll let you know what comes of it.
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Old 12-08-2019, 12:20 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=Vroominum
Anyone had experience in this realm or recall a previous thread? Did I read in a thread that someone was told by a tech that this type of leak is normal? AS tech support tells me that accessing the balance valve requires removal of the starboard bedroom TV wall. I suspect it's easier if not altogether necessary to slightly enlarge the hole in the shower.

Thanks for any suggestions you can provide[/QUOTE]

Our mixing valve in the shower did not freeze but it did stop mixing the water temperature correctly and we had to replace it recently.
We were also told by Airstream we would have to take out the bedroom wall and wall cabinets. I found the easier way for myself was to get a deep hole saw and enlarge the hole from inside the shower to access the mixing valve steel cap. After fashioning plywood jig to hold holesaw in place and drilling the hole it took less than five minutes to replace the cartridge and put everything back together.
If you trace it back to the valve and have any questions donít hesitate to contact.
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Old 12-08-2019, 03:12 PM   #7
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Jimmy O (plumber) is right. Change your cartridge and 69 soul shine tells you how, it’s a smart modification , that should have been done in the factory, Most likely it will need to be replaced again in a few more years.
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Old 12-08-2019, 03:23 PM   #8
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The plumber is probably correct.

Our shower valve worked for the ten years we had the trailer, so they don't have to fail so fast. Perhaps they installed cheaper valves more recently. Airstream is always looking for cheaper parts to use. Some seem to work for a while, others fail fast and that's how Airstream learns what is crap and what will work a bit longer.
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Old 12-08-2019, 04:24 PM   #9
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When speaking to Kohler Customer Service was told that when their products were used in RV applications instead of lifetime warranty it only had one or two year warranty I forget which but because our particular cartridge had been re-designed they sent replacement out for free. They didn’t say why it was re-designed.
When I spoke to AS Customer Service they had just replaced one earlier that week and said they took out the bedroom wall to do it.
And then when I was at JC later was told that they had requested more than once to enlarge the access hole to start with. Guess they figure they can make more money tearing out the walls every time it needs replacing then just building it right the first time. Go figure.
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Old 12-09-2019, 12:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 69SoulShine View Post
Guess they figure they can make more money tearing out the walls every time it needs replacing then just building it right the first time. Go figure.
It is easy to be suspicious, but it may be that no one even thought about it. The poor design of products shows up often and sees to be hard to correct. Humans seems to be really bad at thinking very far ahead, but we are good with dealing with the crisis we create by not thinking ahead.

When they become conscious of such a problem, and don't solve it, then suspicion is correct. Perhaps it is a gift to dealers so they can make more money on Airstreams.
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