Originally Posted by wigwag
The original shower in my 64 Overlander drips, drips, drips. The one and only plumber in the area says "the leak could be anywhere" and doesn't want to do the work of finding it. I've tried adjusting the various valves, using plumber's tape to fix any bad seals, but I don't know ANYTHING about plumbing!
The dripping shower head is not only an annoyance but results in a major waste of water, and since I'm dependent on a well that can go dry (especially during summers like this one!), I really want to solve this problem. Could it be washers? Does anyone know what size washers are needed for different joints in the shower?
My Airstream is in such a remote area that I have to be equipped with supplies when I visit.
What do I need?
In a related plumbing problem, I've been told my hot water heater isn't
working. I rent my Airstream out for part of the summer, so I get these reports via email. The heater worked fine last summer. The renters know about the on/off switch. No hot water! Any advice on where I should start?
Easy way to track down the cause of the leak, if it's dripping from the shower head, remove the shower head and clean it thoroughly. It's possible that debris has gotten into the system and built up in the shower head to trap water while in use, which then drips out slowly when not in use.
If that doesn't solve the problem, next step is the hot and cold taps. You may very well have washers in the taps. Easy way, disconnect the water (shut off the pump or disconnect the inlet hose) so water doesn't spray everywhere. Remove the handle. This exposes the top of the valve. Unscrew the top of the valve and remove the valve body. If it has a washer, remove the washer, and take it to a hardware store. They should be able to find a new one to match. Get spares while you're at it.
If there are no washers (they do make washerless models, but I don't think they had them in the 60's) you've got a more complex job. Call up that lazybones plumber and tell him he doesn't have to track down a leak, he just needs to rebuilt your shower taps.
As long as the drip is from the shower head itself, and not through a pipe joint, the shower head and the taps are the only possible sources.
Water heater is a more difficult proposition to troubleshoot by post. So, some questions…
Is it propane, electric, or both?
If propane, does it have a pilot light, or does it have a spark to light the flame?
If propane, is the propane tank empty? (Yeah, I know that's a no-brainer, but I have to ask).
If it's got a pilot light, and it's not out of propane, then a failure of the pilot light is the most dangerous situation; it means that when the heater is supposed to come on, it's just spraying propane with no fire. So that's what to check first.
If it's got a piezoelectric ignition (electric spark) then is it actually sparking when it's supposed to? Same thing, if the propane is coming on but there's no spark, you're just spraying propane and that's dangerous.
So, if the pilot light isn't working, or the piezoelectric ignition isn't working, shut off the propane until you get that fixed.
Find the water heater fuse. Is it burned out? No fuse means no spark. It also means the thermostat isn't getting power, either. If it's all-electric, a burned out fuse also means no heat. So obviously once you've made sure the dangerous things are okay, the fuse is the next thing to check. Should be somewhere on your 12v
Is there a bypass valve on the hot water tank? If you don't know, turn on the galley sink hot tap by itself. Does water come out? If so, your water heater will have water in it. If not, find the bypass valve and open it, then open the hot tap again and let water run until it comes out the faucet. This fills the water heater. This should also be a no-brainer, but if you rent out your trailer, don't rely on your tenants having brains.
If it's got propane, and the propane ignites when it's supposed to, and it's full of water, and the fuse is good, then the next thing is the thermostat. If you're not familiar with them, best to leave that one to the professionals.
If you've gone through all of those steps and still haven't solved the problem, then make sure the propane is off, get out your trusty Smith & Wesson, and put the water heater out of your misery.