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Struggling to loosen vandal-proof lock nuts

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  1. #1
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    Default Struggling to loosen vandal-proof lock nuts

    I'm trying to replace the two wall-mount valves in my shower. The handles are held on by those vandal-proof lock nuts. I have the special tool to remove them, and it works fine on one of the two taps (and a bunch of others in the house that I tried), but it won't budge the other one that I need to get off. So far I've tried tapping the tool with a hammer to get the nut moving, liberal application of WD-40 over a couple of days, a vinegar-soaked paper towel around the spindle overnight, and alternately heating and freezing the handle with a heat gun/CO2 canister. It still won't budge. Since I'm replacing the tap, I could just take a grinder to it, but this is the only shower in the house and I've never replaced a valve before. I don't want to render it inoperable and then discover I can't complete the job for some other reason, or I will have a very angry wife

    img_20210330_122936.jpg

    img_20210330_122954.jpg

    Looking at that second image, clearly there is a lot of crud in the threads. I will try to scrape out what I can using a pick but I'm not optimistic that it will help. Any other suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Replace the other spindle first to prove the new one can be installed without issues.
    If ok, then I'd just cut this one it off and also replace that one as well. In theory should be straight forward.

    Note: you were talking about the spindle replacement and not the entire valve??

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bart1080 View Post
    Replace the other spindle first to prove the new one can be installed without issues.
    If ok, then I'd just cut this one it off and also replace that one as well. In theory should be straight forward.

    Note: you were talking about the spindle replacement and not the entire valve??
    That's a good idea. I am replacing the whole valve with 1/4 turn ceramic ones. I checked to see if I could get at the valve behind the tile just by loosening the flange all the way, but I can't get my channel locks onto it. Not enough clearance.

    Comparing this handle to the other ones in the shower, it almost looks like the back is rounded off, where the other three are squared. I wonder if someone went after this with pliers and warped it so the nut can't turn. All the others come out with almost zero force required, and then this one doesn't budge even when I smack the tool with a decent sized hammer.

  4. #4
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    When you tried to get at the valve behind the flange, did you have the valve fully opened (with the water isolated of coarse)?
    You might be lucky, if the valve is fully open that a few taps in the right place loosen the valve.

    Good luck.

  5. #5
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    When I pulled off the hot water handle and flange, I found this:

    img_20210331_121144.jpg

    I can't get my tap spanner onto the valve because there's no clearance past the tile. None of my other tools (channel locks, adjustable spanner, etc.) will get a grip on it either. Between this and the handle on the cold tap that I STILL can't get off, I'm ready to call in a pro and let them deal with it. If I'm lucky they'll have a lower profile spanner that can get onto this, otherwise I guess I'll be replacing the tile. This seems like further evidence to me that the tile job in this bathroom was DIY...
    Owen in Melbourne

  6. #6
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    A tube spanner should get it off but the pro you want is a tiler as they made a mess of drilling the hole

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    Yeah the tube spanner is what I meant, that was my first try but no go on getting it onto the valve. I contemplated filing or cutting the tile a bit myself to make this work, but I really don't have the right tools.
    Owen in Melbourne

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    Quote Originally Posted by autojack View Post
    Yeah the tube spanner is what I meant, that was my first try but no go on getting it onto the valve. I contemplated filing or cutting the tile a bit myself to make this work, but I really don't have the right tools.
    Well if you cant get it with a tube spanner I don't like a plumbers chance I think you will have to attack the tile to make the hole bigger, I'm sure someone here should have a way you can cut the tile.
    Do you have a grinder?

  9. #9
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    I can borrow a grinder. The other worry I have now is that with the hole offset so much like it is, I'm not sure my new flange will even cover it. Still have to check that. But it was starting to feel to me like we were just going to be replacing a tile or two. Will probably be a pain to match, although they are just white 20x20 tiles. Just not sure I'm up for bothering with that, but then calling in a tiler to replace two tiles might be ridiculous
    Owen in Melbourne

  10. #10
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    You might need a dremel rather than a grinder. A tile nibbler might work.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by autojack View Post
    Yeah the tube spanner is what I meant, that was my first try but no go on getting it onto the valve. I contemplated filing or cutting the tile a bit myself to make this work, but I really don't have the right tools.
    From the picture attached it appears that the sealing flange on the spindle is clear of the tile so there should be no reason needed to cut the tile, the engagement area for the tube spanner should be higher up and smaller than the sealing flange at the back.
    Does the tube spanner not fit or is it that you cannot undo the spindle once it is engaged ?
    Give us a side on picture of the spindle and a picture of the tube spanner you are using.

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    Quote Originally Posted by autojack View Post
    Yeah the tube spanner is what I meant, that was my first try but no go on getting it onto the valve. I contemplated filing or cutting the tile a bit myself to make this work, but I really don't have the right tools.
    Use a small masonary bit in the drill 4.5mm or smaller to drill a few holes in the tile (don't use the hammer drill function) around the tap then tap the tile with a hammer and nail punch or nail or small screw driver to get the tile away from the tap,
    and chop the sheet as well so you can get a tube spanner onto the and undo it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclic View Post
    Use a small masonary bit in the drill 4.5mm or smaller to drill a few holes in the tile (don't use the hammer drill function) around the tap then tap the tile with a hammer and nail punch or nail or small screw driver to get the tile away from the tap,
    and chop the sheet as well so you can get a tube spanner onto the and undo it.
    I would prefer to use a tile bit, will cut through the tile as if it were butter.
    Ryobi 4 Piece Glass And Tile Bit Set | Bunnings Warehouse

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    Quote Originally Posted by phild01 View Post
    I would prefer to use a tile bit, will cut through the tile as if it were butter.
    Ryobi 4 Piece Glass And Tile Bit Set | Bunnings Warehouse
    these are super easy to use and much better than a masonry bit but going back to Droog's point, 3 posts above, is it really necessary?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bart1080 View Post
    these are easy to use, these are super easy to use and much better than a masonry bit but going back to Droog's point, 3 posts above, is it really necessary?
    I'm trying to remove the whole valve and replace it with a ceramic cartridge quarter-turn valve. So as far as I understand, I need to remove the valve itself with the square tube spanner. That's the surface that the tile interferes with, not the spindle attachment nut.
    Owen in Melbourne

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    Quote Originally Posted by autojack View Post
    I'm trying to remove the whole valve and replace it with a ceramic cartridge quarter-turn valve. So as far as I understand, I need to remove the valve itself with the square tube spanner. That's the surface that the tile interferes with, not the spindle attachment nut.
    Correct

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by autojack View Post
    I'm trying to remove the whole valve and replace it with a ceramic cartridge quarter-turn valve. So as far as I understand, I need to remove the valve itself with the square tube spanner. That's the surface that the tile interferes with, not the spindle attachment nut.

    Looking again at the picture in post 5 to me it looks like the spindle is clear of the tile, the interfering section I believe is the breech in the wall which needs to remain.
    Is it a square engagement on the spindle ? or a hex one ? I cannot make out any engagement surface from the picture.

    Give us a side on picture of the spindle and a picture of the tube spanner you are using.

  18. #18
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    ,,,,looks like a square below the round spindle. and the square is behind the cement sheeting??

    A better photo might be good. I'f I'm right, is grinding the round spindle carefully back so you can get access to the square "nut" an option. Would probably need something like a dermal to cut/grind it back. Again a bit hard to determine from the photo.

  19. #19
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    I'm not crazy, right?? The only thing to put a spanner on here is the square bit. I have a square tube spanner that would fit this fine, but the tile interferes.

    img_20210412_162142.jpg
    Owen in Melbourne

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    Quote Originally Posted by autojack View Post
    I'm not crazy, right?? The only thing to put a spanner on here is the square bit. I have a square tube spanner that would fit this fine, but the tile interferes.

    Correct yet again.
    If you cannot get the tube spanner onto the square section of the wall stop then the tile has to be nibbled/ground/chipped away
    Of course you can use vice grips/locking pliers/foot prints/stillsons on the threaded section of the wall stop seeing as you are replacing it, but, if the tile is still in the way then you will probably break the tile away as you unscrew the wall stop.

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  22. #22
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    After seeing that picture, if your square tube spanner interferes on the tile

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