Bathtub Faucet Repair (Showers Too)

Hello again,

A few of you have asked me how to deal with leaks on tub and shower faucets. That can be a pretty tricky job on older faucets, but if you read follow the directions here you should be OK. Just make sure you don’t get in a hurry and break something and you should be fine. I will warn you though, this is a pretty long post. I’ve included a video at the end as a reward for sticking with it.

You might be telling yourself that it’s just dripping…no big deal. Did you know that you can fix one leaking shower faucet and save thousands of gallons of water a year? Most people just think of a dripping faucet as an annoyance and don’t realize how much precious water is being wasted one drop at a time. One drop per second equals 2,700 gallons per year! The good news is that almost anyone with a few basic tools can learn how to fix most dripping faucets.

Let’s start with the basics. Faucets have one primary purpose, to allow the water in your pipes to be used in a controlled manner. This means that they have to open to allow water out of the pipes and close to keep water in the pipes. Not rocket science, right? The closing part is what we want to concentrate on here.

There Are Two Basic Faucet Designs

Faucets drip when they fail to completely trap the water in the pipes. Most faucets use one of two basic methods to stop the water flow. Some, primarily older designs, use rubber or neoprene washers which tighten against a “seat” and block the flow of water. Drips from these faucets are addressed by replacing the washers and/or seats. We’ll talk about how to do that in a minute. Most other faucet designs involve some sort of cartridge. Some people call these “washerless” faucets. Repairing newer style water faucets like these usually involves replacing the cartridge(s).

Washers And Seats

Older faucet designs often use washers to block the water and keep it in the pipes. Tightening the handle compresses the washer against a “seat” and seals the opening, thus stopping the water flow. If you need to do a bathtub faucet repair on a three handle wall faucet you probably have this type. You will also run into this style if you need to fix a leaking shower faucet that has two handles. Many sink and lavatory faucets also use washers.

One way to tell whether or not your faucets use washers is to see if the handle gets harder to turn as you turn it off. If turning it really tight stops the drip, this probably, but not always, means that you have washers. If you do have a dripping faucet that has washers, the basic repair process is very similar whether you need to know how to repair a shower faucet,repair a leaking tub faucet or fix a dripping sink faucet. There is, however, one important difference.

Bathtub Faucet Repair

The one critical thing to remember when fixing a leaky bathtub faucet is that you will have to turn the water off to the entire house before removing any parts other than the outer trim pieces. If you’re not sure which pieces are trim, just turn the water off first just in case. Once you have turned off the main water to the house you can begin taking things apart. There are lots of different brands and designs of faucets out there and they all come apart a little differently, so you will have to sort of feel your way through.

Removing The Trim

The first step is to remove the handles. This is usually done by removing a cap to expose the handle screw and then removing the screw. Next, remove the handle. This may require a little finesse, as the handles sometimes get stuck in place. One trick is to place the handles of a pair of channel lock pliers behind the valve handle, one on each side, and tap evenly on the handle to nudge it loose. If this doesn’t work you can buy a special tool to remove handles but these tools are sometimes hard to find and usually a little patience is all you need to do the trick.

After he handles are off, there is usually some sort of sleeve over the stem itself. This typically has to come off too. Once again, there are many different configurations. One popular design uses threaded plastic tubes to connect the trim sleeve with the valve. Other types have the sleeve threaded directly onto the valve. You will have to figure this step out before you can proceed. If you can determine what brand valve you have there is a good chance of finding instructions on-line.

Now For The Root Of The Problem

Ok, so you have removed both the handles and any remaining trim sleeve from the valve. Now you are ready to get to the root of the problem, your valve stem. The washer is almost always at the other end of the valve stem from the handle. Usually the stem is threaded into the valve body and you will just need to unscrew it to remove it. Here’s a tip. Stick the handle back on for a second and open the valve half way. This relieves pressure on the stem and makes it easier to unscrew.

Now you just need to make sure you are loosening the correct nut. Lots of valves have a packing nut around the stem. It is usually a little smaller and just in front of the actual connection with the valve body. The packing nut’s purpose is to squeeze some special packing material around the stem to prevent water from leaking around the stem when the valve is in use. Loosening the packing nut won’t help you, you need to get your wrench on the actual connection to the valve body. By the way, a deep socket is often the only tool that will work to remove the valve stem.

Removing The Valve Stem

The easiest way to make sure you have the correct nut is to see if there is a gap opening up between the nut and the valve body as you loosen the nut. The valve stem itself will also usually turn when you have the right one. If you have loosened the packing nut by mistake, don’t worry, you will adjust it before you are finished anyway. Go ahead and remove both stems and keep up with which one is which, it matters on many valves.

After you have the stems out you should be able to find the washer on the “inside” end. If it is nicked, torn or brittle it is likely the cause of your drip. Even if it looks brand new, go ahead and replace it. You’ve already come this far. You can get replacement washers at almost any hardware store. Sometimes you may want to replace the whole stem, especially if the handle end is stripped out. It’s best to just take the stem with you to the store and see if you can match it up. Most Do It Yourself stores have replacement stems for many popular brands. If your valve has a center diverter valve to switch the water from the tub spout to the shower head the same process applies. Many times it is easier to replace the diverter stem than to repair it. This really depends on the design of the stem.

How Are Your Seats?

One more thing to check is the seats. These are the part of the valve body that the washer tightens up against to stop the water flow. If you can get your finger inside the valve, feel of the seats and see if they feel rough. If so, it would be best to replace them if you can get them out. The inside of the seats, which is where the water flows through when the valve is open, usually have either a hex or square recess. Special seat wrenches are used to remove the seats. You can usually get these wrenches at the same place you get the other parts and they’re not expensive. You just stick the wrench through the seat and unscrew it. The replacement seats screw back in the same way, just put a little pipe dope on the threads before you install it.

Put It All Back Together

Once you’ve figured out what needs to be replaced and have done that, you just need to put everything back together. If your valve has packing nuts don’t put the trim back on until you have turned the water back on. Once the water is on, go ahead and stick the handle on for a second and open the valve. Make sure no water is leaking around the stem. If it is leaking, with the handle opened half way, snug down the packing nut until the leak stops. Easy does it. If you get it too tight the handle will be hard to turn. Now finish installing the trim pieces and you are done.

Repairing Newer Style Water Faucets

If you have a newer, “washerless” type valve the repair process is similar, but usually easier. Many of these type valves use a self contained cartridge. If the valve starts to drip, just replace the cartridge and you’re done. You still need to turn the water off and remove the handles and trim. The cartridge is usually held in place by a retaining nut on the valve body or, in the case of most Moen valves, by a retaining clip. Simply remove the cartridge and put another one in it’s place. If your hot and cold are backwards when you finish, turn the water back off, pull the cartridge back out, turn it over 180 degrees and re- install it.

Delta Style Valves

One other common design that is considered “washerless” was made famous by Delta and copied by several other makers. It uses little “cup” seals that fit over springs recessed in the back of the valve body. The springs press these “seals” against the cartridge and regulate the flow through little tapered openings in the cartridge. If you have one of these and it’s dripping, changing these springs and seals will usually correct it. Here’s a tip. Once you have the cartridge out of the way, insert a phillips screwdriver into the seal and pop both the seal and spring out. Stick the new ones on the end of the screwdriver to help guide them into place. This is especially helpful if you don’t have long slender fingers.

Delta, and a few imitators, also have a faucet design that uses a ball instead of a cartridge. This is not as common in tub or shower valves but there are plenty of them out there. The springs and seals are the same but there are lots more o-rings and parts to deal with. The good news is that these parts are readily available. While it’s a little more complicated than learning how to repair a Moen kitchen faucet, which is a piece of cake, it is still easier than working with most washer type faucets.

These Techniques Work In The Kitchen Too

Armed with the knowledge you’ve gained in this post you now not only know how to repair a shower faucet and to repair a leaking tub faucet, but you can apply these skills to many other faucets as well. After fixing a leaky bathtub faucet, stopping a dripping outside hose faucet will be a breeze. The techniques that you will use to complete a “washerless” bathtub faucet repair can be used when repairing newer style water faucets of all kinds. Whether you have an old dripping tub faucet or a newer kitchen faucet that just won’t quite shut off you can now fix it. So put these new skills to use, roll up your sleeves and stop that drip!

But before you do, take a look at this. I included it because the animation is pretty cool. I can really sympathize with the plumber here:

I have wanted to do that myself a few times.

I hope this has helped.

You can do it!

Bryan Stevens

Copyright 2009

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87 comments to Bathtub Faucet Repair (Showers Too)

  • Leo

    Great article! I am having a problem with a stuck cartridge seat. I have tried tapping it, both types of seat wrenches and also tried PB Blaster and heat. I have gone so far as to try removing it with an extracted with no luck. I am worried about damaging the pipe work if I go any further with the advice I’ve been given. Any suggestions about how to release the cartridge seat from Heck? Thanks!

  • Norm

    Little problem I am trying to remove a diverter valve on a three handle shower unit that does not close all the way. I have replaced several of different valves over the years but this on has me stumped please help. I have removed all the trim and the retaining nut on the stem but the stem will not come out. I have checked for some kind of retaining clip nothing. Could it just be corrosion holding it in (very old style). I tried spraying a release agent in and letting it soak with no luck. Pulling, taping, pushing, twisting, no avail. Any ideas?

  • Michelle

    We replaced the faucet valve in the tub. Now the water will not stop running out of the sprout. What did we do wrong? The screw and washer were melted into the bedding. So, we replaced it all.The water just want stop.

  • Rhonda

    I have a leak in my master bath shower, the hot water faucet. So, I followed the diy instructions by removing the cap, unscrewed the small screw and removed it HOWEVER, the faucet will not come off! It turns easily left to right but pulling it off is near impossible. I repeat procedure on cold faucet… same. I went to the man bathroom (which houses same fixtures) and Same! How is this possible? And how on earth am I to repair the leak (which turns to full blown flow when water is turned on…) if the fauets will not come off?? Please help!

  • Carol

    I have two bathrooms with a delta cartridge system in the showers. We’ve lived in the house 25 years. The upstairs always leaks, the downstairs has never leaked. I have replaced the washer/springs many times over the years and it has become less and less effective. I finally broke down replaced the entire cartridge. It now leaks worse than ever. I am desperate. What do you suggest? Thanks.

  • laura

    Hi Bryan,
    We have an older faucet with hot an cold knobs and a shower knob in the middle. We have been going rounds with this faucet for some time now and it just will not stop leaking! We tried replacing the washers which worked briefly then started leaking again. So we replaced those washers with newer thicker ones and doubled them up. Again, this worked for a bit and then the faucet started leaking again and eventually got worse than it was originally. So then we got a completely new faucet kit and replaced the stems, washers, everything…the darn thing still leaks. Not just drips but leaks almost a continuous stream of water. My husband didn’t use plumbers grease or anything like that, not sure if it makes a difference. HELP! Any advice would be very much appreciated!!

  • mili

    Hi Bryan replace a shower handle but the bottom spout still drips a couple of drops how do i fix it . Husband to it apart & put back together but it still drips any suggestion. Thank you have a great day.

  • Blake

    In my shower, cartridges are held in place by a threaded extension. No retaining clip or nut… Here is a view of the back. Can I find something shorter to hold the cartridges in place and mount handles to?

  • mhurst

    I was trying to turn on the shower, when I pulled the piece up, it came apart. A piece of plastic fell down the drain that I guess blocks the hole so the water doesn’t come out the faucet? What is this called and can I buy a replacement?

  • Dwane

    I got a question. I changed out all 3 stems and handles on my bath tub. yet it is still leaking. If I have everything off and turn the knob for the shower, the leak diverts up to the showerhead. When I turn it back, the leak goes back to the spout. BTW, I have a standard spout. any suggestions?

  • i have a delta shower unit. been in since 1989. It wont hold water when trying to take a bath. I took the cover off and there ia a lever hooked to a threaded rod attached to a piece of pvc sliding up and down. I adjusted the threaded rod both ways to no avail. What am I missiing. Thanks for the help.

  • Hello,

    I have a tub/shower combo with a gerber valve assembly. In the past year I have had a plumber in several times to work on the hot water valve. The last time he said that he thought the stems he got from the supply house was bad, so he replaced it again. Well, it started leaking again and got progressively worse. I decided to fix it myself this time, and after multiple trips to the hardware stores my drip is now a steady stream. I replaced the stem on the hot water side, since I had the water off I replaced all the seats and washers on hot, cold and shower diverter as well as the washers, I am at a loss as where the problem could be? I know the problem is on the hot water side because the water that is coming out is hot, Scratching my head in Texas.



  • shana

    When i run the hot water in the tub it doesnt get hot, but the shower has hot water and the sinks. The shower is seperate from the tub. Do you think there is a value that needs to be replaced or something wrong with the piping?

  • Tim

    I have a delta shower single handle turn off and on. The shower head is leaking and I wanted to take the handle off to replace cartridge. I got a little impatient and stripped the set screw on the handle. Now I cant get handle off. Can I drill out the set screw(allen wrench) and pop the handle off? I’m worried about ruining something if I wrench on it too hard. –Tim

  • craig

    I think i have an american standard shower faucet, its supper old, and i can’t find replacement stems and seats. Can i use a different brand or type and replace everything but the faucet in the wall.

  • Brooke

    Hi Bryan,

    I am going to remove my fixtures to have them replated. They are in great shape, I just don’t like the brass. What is the best way to cap off the water supplies while the fixtures are at the shop? Thank you!

  • w steinhauer

    Is there a way to replace washer type stems on a bathtub with new cartridge type ones from the front of the faucet. In other words, remove the existing seats and replace with modern valve assemblies? It would be difficult to replace the complete faucet assembly from behind the wall.

    • BTS

      Unfortunately, there really is no way to substitute “modern” cartridges for washer type stems. The only way to do that is to change the valves, either from the front or back.

  • Tim

    I have a 3 faucet Gerber shower, i recently replaced all of the seats and stems with brand new seats and stems from a retro-fit kit. After approximately a months time i noticed that the cold water faucet started acting funny. It would seem to either be overly sensitive or completely non-responsive and if you bumped into it while showering the temperature would change dramatically (either hotter or colder with no rhyme or reason). I opened up the cold water faucet and removed the stem to discover the washer, and screw holding the washer, had come completely off the back of the stem. Figuring i just had a bad stem i replaced the whole stem again. Now a month or two later i am suffering from the same problem. I have not had this problem with the hot water stem nor the diverter stem, just the cold water. My only guess is that there is something wrong with the seat, which i did not replace when i changed the stem previously. Please help before I get scalded again!

    Thank you.

    • BTS

      Hey Tim,

      That’s weird. I guess the seat could be rough enough to “grab” the washer when you open the valve and cause it to become loose. You can certainly try replacing the seat. Another, possibly easier, solution might be to use some Locktite on the washer screw.

      Let us know how it works out.


  • John Brunzell

    I had to rebuild my Eljer S 966 4 diverter and when I put the stem back in and tighten down – I now can’t rotate the diverter knob. Worked perfect prior – all it needed was a new diverter washer. Now – only the washer is the difference I see that the stem is all the way up to the seat (I can see the impression on the new washer) – my over smart friend said to remove the seat – did, and now it works perfectly – perfect amount of water to the tub and perfect to the shower head – however, there is no seat now – is this a problem? The bath spout has no water leaking out when in shower mode- DO I NOW have water leaking somewhere I can’t see??? Or should I say job done???


    • BTS

      Hey John,

      That sounds like the first time I rebuilt a carburetor. I had a lot of parts left over but the car ran fine. If everything is working fine you are all set. The the seat is completely inside the valve body so you don’t have to worry about leaks in the wall. Good job!


  • Mina

    I had a leaky faucet cartridge in one tub, so I purchased a new one to replace it. Took out another one in the house to compare it at the store. The water has been turned off for about 2 hours when I get home to replace the cartridges, and put the one in the shower that worked just fine. Now all the water is turned back on and all tub and shower faucets are leaking. I don’t know what went wrong?? Even the Tub, which in the master bedroom there is a separate tub and standing shower, that I didn’t pull out is odd. The water is not “off” in the off position, Now it is on in the Off position and off in the middle, and on again at the full turn of the handle…. Is there something I did wrong?

    • BTS

      Hey Mina,

      Wow, you have me stumped. I could say that maybe you got the stems back wrong in the ones you changed but that should not have affected your master tub faucet at all. I have never heard of anything like your issue. Do us all a favor and let us know what you do to solve it.

      I know this is no help but it’s about the best I can do with this one.


  • Adrienne

    Hi I have a problem with no water coming from the bathtub faucet. The shower works fine, it’s just the tub spout that doesn’t work. We have the 3 knob set up with hot & cold with a diverter in between. My husband has replaced the diverter, with no luck. Even when the diverter was removed and the water knob was turned on, still no flow. What would cause this & how would we fix it. Any help will be appreciated!

    • BTS


      It sounds like something could be blocking the opening to the spout inside the valve. You might be able to remove the spout (it probably screws off) and take the diverter stem back out, then try backflushing the spout pipe with a water hose and see if you can get water to flow through.

      Good luck.


  • Heather Stevens

    Hey Bryan,

    I was looking over your post and have a question. I have a diverter type spout and would like to replace it with a non diverter type. I realize we’d have to replace the faucet handle too, but wondered if it is just that simple or would I have to get into replacing other hardware or something else along he way to convert. Any suggestions are welcome!

    Thank you in advance,


    • BTS

      Hey Heather,

      You can certainly replace the spout but unless your valve/faucet has some sort of diverter you will no longer have a way to make the water come out of the shower head. I’m not sure why you would need to replace the handle.

      Good Luck,


  • Hi,

    I installed an American Standard Cadet two-handled faucet in my tub/shower last year. After installing the handles the reduction in water pressure (compared to water shooting straight from the pipes) was noticable, but still gave a good shower. The water pressure has declined over time to the point that I cannot use the shower. I thought the valve stems were blocked or defective some how,so I went to purchase replacements. After checking about five locations, I finally gave up and contacted american standard who sent me replacements. I did inspect them, they open completely, do not appear to have any damage and are the correct part number. I replaced them and guess what..still no water pressure! I used garden parts to assemble a temporary shower while we waited for parts and had great pressure and I did allow the water to run freely from the lines so I no they are not clogged. I’m certain it must something to do with these valves because when they are not there, there is great pressure in the lines. I was careful to line it up with the notches when reinstalling and inspected them before doing so..Is there anything else that I can do? I am at a complete loss and really don’t want to replace the whole system but I am running out of ideas..

  • Teri

    Our house was built in 1962 and the shower pipe stem has stripped threads. I can’t get any shower head to stay on. Tried plumbers putty,also tape,but still blows off the shower head every time we turn it on.

    Is there a way to fix the threads on the pipe coming out of the wall? We can’t tear up the wall – rental property to replace the pipe.

    Would love an easy answer,I am having to do this myself!

    Thank you.

  • Brian

    I work on 3 handle divert systems all the time, but am having a problem with a Price Pfister system. I have replaced all the seat, bibbs, and washers on the diverter, it still leaked so I pulled the stems and seats again and put in new stems and seats and a new diverter. The parts are correct, (I only have 2 systems on my property–speakman and price pfister). I have never had this problem before and logically it doesn’t make any since. Just wondered if you have ran into this before.

  • Kate

    This is really helpful – I have been trying to figure out what’s wrong with my shower and now might explore looking at the faucets. Bryan, the problem is that the water starts out hot and very quickly (within 10 minutes) gets freezing cold. It’s not the hot water heater, since the water is hot again after the shower is off for about 10 minutes. Any ideas what could be the issue?


  • Cyndi

    As a single mom on a budget, I appreciate your down to earth tips/instructions. I actually feel like I have a chance at fixing my leaky tub faucet. Little more research and maybe I’ll get up the guts to tackle the job!

  • Teresa

    grandma has an old home with only a freestanding tub with faucet (no shower or shower head).
    question” can a shower sprayer be installed from the faucet ??
    h…e…l…p… !!!

  • dan august

    We have a tub faucet with a pull which diverts water to shower head. We pull up and now only about half water flow to shower head and half remains in faucet. Lubricated the pull and moves smoothly and feels like it “seats” properly, but there is still a reduced flow of water to shower head ?????

    • BTS

      Hey Dan,

      NO matter how it feels, if very much water is still coming out of the spout after you pull up the diverter you need to replace the spout. The only tricky part is knowing whether you have a screw on spout or a “slip fit” type that clamps onto the pipe. Here’s how to tell- if there is an opening on bottom of the spout at the wall it is probably a slip fit type. These usually have an allen head screw holding them on.

      When you get the old one off just take it to the hardware store or Home Depot/Lowe’s and get a new one to match. If you have a special style or finish you may need to order a replacement from the manufacturer.

      Let us know ho it goes.



      • Danny


        My problem is not leaking. But instead the cold water faucet does not allow water to come out. the Hot comes out okay. This is a rental property – mobil home, that has a small access panel, but it is only for a 90% turn going down, with no access to opening it, except I guess via soldering iron to loosen it, to see if I could run a wire down the line to unclog the line, which it give me the impression to be clogged up, by the fact only a small dripple comes out. I have triad to run a small steal wire in from the front of faucet, after opening it, but i can not get it to make the 1/2 in turn at the 90% turn.



        • BTS

          Hi Danny,

          Without seeing your faucet this is only a guess, but I would bet there is a way to remove the cold water stem or cartridge.

          Go ahead and turn the water off to your home first.

          Then remove the cold handle on the problem faucet. You may have to use a knife to pry the screw cover off

          Now unscrew any trim sleeve surrounding the stem.

          At this point you should be able to see the stem and there should be a way to unscrew it from the valve. You may need to get a set of tub wrenches at some place like Home Depot or a hardware store. These are just metal tubes designed to fit a variety of hex sizes.

          Now remove the stem and see if you can tell if anything is obviously wrong with it. At this point is is would be a good idea to have someone turn the water on and seeif you have good pressure coming from the cold side of the valve with the stem out. If so you know the problem is the stem. If not you have bigger problems.

          if the problem is the stem you will probably have to find a mobile home supply dealer to find a replacement. Almost everything used in mobile homes is special and hard to find in most stores.

          Good luck.


  • J Hull

    We have a delta shower and we found that the water pressure had become less over time. Then we took out the cartridge to see if it had a build up like we do for our sinks when the water flow is low in the sinks. We didnt find any dirt and put it back in and NOW NO water except a trickle. We called Delta and they sent a new cartridge but it didnt change anything. We called delta and got another cartridge and still we cant get but a trickle of water out of the shower or bath spout. Any ideas – we would appreciate.

    • BTS

      Hi Julie,

      If you can give me some more details it will help but I will try to make a couple of guesses first.

      have you tried removing the cartridge and then turning the water back on for a few seconds? And I mean turn it back on pretty good, to flush the valve out. It is best to have somebody hold a bucket or something in front of the valve to keep it from splashing too much. That is the first thing I would try. If you have good flow then you know the problem is in the cartridge. If not, you have bigger problems than a cartridge.

      If you do have good flow with the cartridge out, you need to take another look at the cartridge. I don’t know what type of cartridge you have, they have changed several times over the years and as recently as 4-5 years ago.

      Older ones use a couple of “cup washers” and little springs that fit into recesses in the back of the valve. The springs keep the washers pushed against the back of the cartridge, which has kind of teardrop shaped slots that line up with the washers as the handle is turned and control the flow of the water. If you have this kind, you may just have the cartridge in wrong so the washers are not lining up with the slots properly. Honestly though, that is a long shot and probably not your problem.

      If you can give me some more details (cartridge #, age of valve) I might be able to make a better diagnosis. I have a very good source for Delta info, so I’m sure we can figure this out.



      • Keith and Julie

        Thank you for your response. My husband took pictures of the cartridge (which he had placed on a doily on our table – not sure if this picture is clear without letting you know this info.) I sent pictures in response to your email via email. We have this installed for about 2 years. The cartridge# is RP46463. The literature it came with states it is a cartridge for 17 series tub/shower valves and it replaces duel control valve cartridges with grey cap made after 2005. I am so thankful you replied via email. Working all day and then during the night to resolve the plumbing issue has left me exhausted, never-mind I am dealing with a disability. I could have very well forgotten that I submitted this info to you. I work today and wont be able to check my email until I am off work. I will do so as soon as I get off work. I hope I have given you enough information. I included the UPC which delta had me send them in order to get the cartridge – in case you needed it for your delta friend.

        My husband said he made sure the holes lined up many times. To me it seems like he installed something wrong b/c before we at least had enough water coming out to take a shower. But together we have put it in and out and if he is making a mistake I am making it with him. We will see about getting a machine from Lowe’s tomorrow that will help us blow air thru it. my husband works late tonight. Do you think renting the machine is a good tool to use?

        • BTS

          Hey Julie (and Keith),

          I got the photos and have emailed my guy at Delta. Bad news, he is out of pocket till Monday, so if we can’t figure it out on our own we will have to wait till then. I hope you have another tub.

          I do have a few more questions:

          — Is the cartridge in the pictures the old one or the new one?

          — Which ever it is, can you send me photos of the other one also? Ideally you could send both a side view,front view (handle end) and back view (the end that goes inside the valve) of both cartridges and let me know which is which. That way I can make sure Delta sent you the correct cartridge.

          — Can you send a photo of the valve while the cartridge is removed? It will help for me to see the inside of the valve.

          — Last, can you put everything back together and send me a photo of everything with the trim back on. It will also help to see what style faucet you have.

          Also, have you tried flushing the valve out by turning the water on while the cartridge is removed? That is the first thing you should do.

          As for renting a machine from Lowe’s I really am not sure what you mean. If you are talking about trying to blow air through the cartridge I wouldn’t bother. I seriously doubt you got 2 bad cartridges in a row from Delta. I think the problem is either you have the wrong cartridge or something is not installed or adjusted correctly.

          It is always a challenge to try and diagnose these things by email but if you will bear with me I think we can get it figured out.

          If you or Keith can call me when you get off work it will help a lot. If I can’t answer just leave a message and I will call you back. I gave you my number in the email and I am in Atlanta, GA so just try to call before around 9PM Eastern Time if you can. If you have to leave a message just let me know what time zone or state you are in so I don’t call back at a bad time.

          I know this is a pain in the neck for you right now but don’t let it stress you out. We will get it figured out.



          • Jeff L.

            I’m only an amateur plumber, but isn’t it more likely that gunk or calcified minerals got in the lines and now is clogging the shower head? I think I’d clean that out first.

          • BTS

            Hey Jeff,

            That is a very good point. Sometimes we just assume the most basic things have been done and that’s not always the case. It’s kind of like checking to make sure something is plugged in.

            Thanks for the great reminder!


          • Keith Hull

            Hey Bryan,

            Sorry it took us so long to get back to you on our problem. Thanksgiving, work, etc. Thank you for all your help and advice! Your were right. I flushed out the line from the top and bottom and success! The adapter for the tub spout is a 3/4 and about 1 1/2 long, so I didn’t have a hose fitting for it ( it did not want to come off, I don’t know how the plumber put it in) so I ran a hose sprayer on it and it worked. You saved us at LEAST $200.00. If you are ever down this way, let us know, we owe you at least a steak dinner.

            Thanks again,

            Julie & Keith

          • BTS

            Hey Julie and Keith,

            I am really glad that worked. It sounds like you have a solder on adapter for the tub spout, Delta did that for a while. I forgot about that.

            Thanks for letting me know you got it fixed. It is so cool when i know this blog really helped somebody save some hard earned cash. It may sound corny but it really makes it worth while.

            I hope your family has a very Merry Christmas!


          • Steve in Albany, OR

            Bryan – I am having the exact same problem with my Delta 1700 as Keith and Jelie. My Delta is only 2 years old. We installed it during a bathroom remodel. I have turned house supply on after removing the Delta cartredge to blow out any sediment and water shot across to the back of the tub/shower enclosure and sptattered the room before I could run out to turn supply off again. I believe I have plenty of water pressure. Next I replaced my cartredge. This was no help. I still only have a trickle in the tub spout and the shower head. I have a very dim view of Delta products right now and am ready to start drilling larger holes in the cartredge to let more water through, Seriously the only thing I can think of to do next is tear up the wall and replace the Delta with a different brand.

            I would really appreciate any help you (on anyone else) could offer with this problem.

  • sheela shankar

    Hi Bryan, read your post and found it useful. I have a sink faucet -american standard symphony wide model and the hot water handle keeps spinning- the threads seem to have stripped. I have the replacement cartridge but no use since I cannot remove the handle. Please give me all options including hacksawing and drilling

    • BTS

      Hi Sheela,

      You should be able to get the handle off. Here’s what to do:

      Hold the lever part of the handle with one hand and with the other grab hold of the round bell-shaped part between the lever and the counter. Now unscrew the round part- counterclockwise.

      Here’s a link to the installation instructions. Look at illustration #4 and just reverse the process:

      if you can’t turn it with your hand try using a pair of channel locks but pad the handle with a cloth so you don’t scratch it.

      If this doesn’t work you may have to use a hacksaw and destroy the faucet but I bet you won’t have to go that far.

      Let me know how it goes.



  • […] If you can upload a picture and post a link to it, it would be very helpful. But off the top of my head, I believe that the chrome tubes will unscrew, often by hand. Powered by Yahoo! Answers John asks… Leaking Taps? I am am having problems with leaking taps in my house, I have fitted sev…> […]

  • I’ve removed the screw in order to remove the handle, but it won’t come off. I can’t access my plumbing in the wall to turn off my dripping faucet and now the last resort is to hire a plumber that will wreck my budget for this month.

    • BTS


      You can get a “handle puller” at Home Depot, Lowe’s or most hardware stores. Spray some WD-40 or penetrating oil into the handle where the screw goes and try the puller.

      You can also do what I would do, which is tap the handle from the back with your channel lock pliers, alternating from side to side. With a little patience that usually works.

      Good luck and let us know about your success.



  • Rich

    I have replaced both the stems and the seat on my bathtub but now I have very little water pressure. I have tried everything – there is no clog in the lines or anything – I have tried all the recommendations on other sites. Water pressure in all other sinks etc. is just fine. Could it be that I put the wrong size stems in? ANy ideas?? I used size 9B-3(H&C) with new seats. Appreciate any help!

    • BTS

      Hey Rich,

      Without seeing your valve and stems I am just taking a shot in the dark, but if the problem started after you changed the stems then it indicates a restriction in flow through the faucet. That could mean the stems are the wrong ones and don’t open far enough to allow sufficient water to flow through. Depending on the design of the valve, it could also be that the seats are too long and are restricting the water flow around and through them.

      Another possibility is that the seats are not installed all the way and so when the stem is opened it doesn’t leave enough clearance for the correct flow.

      Bottom line, the problem has to be related to a restriction in flow so the best way to chase that down is to take it all back apart and see if you can see ant of the problems I mentioned. That may mean you have put the old parts back in to see if that makes a difference. First try removing the new parts and comparing them with the old ones to see if anything is different. make sure the stems move the same distance when you open and close them and, if needed, check to make sure the seats are the same length.

      Good luck. If you can, let us know what you find out.



      • Rich

        Being the big dummy that I am I do not have the old parts – short story long is that I started this back in JULY and ended up chucking the old ones away 🙁
        I replaced the seats yesterday with brand new ones that matched the Danco stems I installed. As mentioned I used 9B-3 size stems. I am convinced now that this is where the problem lies because I DO seem to recall looking at the old stems that is seemed like they had more “thread” at the end and the taps don’t seem to unscrew as far as they did before. I took the Cold Stem off and turned the water back on and it jetted out of the pipe so there can’t be a blockage.

        Any idea what size stems I COULD try? I could buy a cold stem and try that first I guess. Ugh…preverbial 10 minute job turning into weeks!!

        • BTS

          Hey Rich,

          I am honestly not that familiar with all the different stems available. I have always just matched up the old ones. My suggestion would be to take one of the new ones back out and go back to the store and see if you can find the correct one.

          Here are a couple of onlkne resources you might want to try. I would try the first one 1st because they have phone number and I always like to talk to a real person if possible:

          I really hope this helps.



          • Rich

            I had a plumber come out finally. The problem seems to be that a piece of washer and screw from the old stem came off and is somehow stuck in the diverter. The issue now is how to get it out. The house has back to back showers so NO access to the diverter – very poor design. Also I have the dreaded Quest piping in my house (of which I knew nothing about until today). It seems the ONLY option is to cut into the shower wall and get access to the diverter. The plumber tried and was successful getting a scew and piece of washer out but his fear is the rest of the washer is now stuck in the diverter. He is at a loss – any ideas?

          • Rich


            UPDATE! I FIXED it!! This is what I did – I took the stems back out and got my ShopVac from the garage and put it on blow. I put the hose against the openings of the hot and cold water as well as the spigot. I then put the water on full blast (ShopVac OUT of the tub of course!!) and plugged the hot and cold alternatively with a wash cloth forcing more water through the respective pipes. Little pieces of rusted metal came out and eventually I got the water flowing just like it was before!! Problem solved! Sure – it cost me a $125 service call to tell me what the problem really was but it saved me hundreds from having to tear apart my shower!!!! Thanks for all the help and I hope this will be useful for someone else. It is true what they say – 99% of water flow issues have to do with some type of clog.

          • BTS


            Very cool. Sometimes you’ve just got to persevere.


  • Crystal Hartwell

    hello, our house/plumbing is from 1959. The bathub faucet has been leaking for a couple of weeks. Over the weekend my husband replaced the valves/seats. He tested it and everything seemed to work fine. I went in and ran the bath for the kids and when I went to turn off water it started leaking again, but this time only the hot water was leaking. My husband took the knob/valve apart and put it back together to make sure everything was in its proper place. It is still leaking (more than it was before he double checked the work). We aren’t expert plumbers, but we are DIYers.. know and learned enough to remodel our kitchen on our own without any issues… anyways. This has stumped us. Any advice?

    • BTS

      Hi Crystal,

      It sounds like you know what you’re doing. If the hot water is still leaking past the stem it can only be the seat or the washer. Maybe you nicked the washer installing it or something is loose. All I can suggest is take it back apart and check to make sure the seat is tight and the washer is not damaged. Let me know what you find.



    • William Maldonado


      Does your tub spout have a small handle at the end that allows you to turn the shower on and off?

      If it does, replace the whole tub spout. There is a diverter valve inside the tub spout that can go bad and cause your tub-spout to leak.

      If you have a three handle set on your wall for the tub, then the center valve is the diverter valve. Make sure you replace it too.

      Good Luck,

      Bill, NYC

      • BTS

        Hey William,

        Thanks for the great tip on the diverter style tub spout. That could certainly be the problem if water is leaking out the spout while the shower head is running.

        If water is leaking out of the spout while the handles are both turned off, and you have a 2 or 3 handle valve, it is usually either the stem/cartridge or the seat.

        Thanks again for the great suggestion!


  • Red

    Is there a way to tell what shower faucet cartridge is needed without turning off water? I have someone coming to replace cartridges but don’t know which one I need. Thanks

  • mike

    you guys should check out speedyvalve its related to all of this and it saves time/money Great product. I think it is on you tube

  • myrnaf

    Hi just had a plumber in to replace the hot water cartridge on an old Delta bathtub porcelain cross handle. Been having problems with thhe hot water tap for two years and it started to gush water everywhere last year. A plumber came in and fixed it so it didn’t gush water but handle was left dangling as the screw wouldn’t go in any further. Started to leak again more and more a half a year later. Plumber came in took everything apart and changed out the cartridge but could not get the screw that holds the whole thing together to where the handle was tight and get the cartridge to stop slipping. Went over everything and realized there seemed to be a missing part that would hold the whole unit together and keep it from sliding around. Husband suggested using a longer screw and he had one that was a match for the screw being used. Plumber took this, measured the body from the bottom of the screw head to 3 1/2 inches (old screw was 3 1/4 inches) and guess what it worked! No more leak and handle is now no longer dangling!
    Whew, better than breaking open the wall to replace everything out. I also like the porcelain handles and wanted to keep this style. All we could figure out was there must be a missing part that would normally hold the whole unit together so we improvised. Plumber said the longer screw is what is now used in the newer Delta shower head but you can probably match the screw you have at any plumber store and cut down a longer on if they don’t have a 3 1/2 inch. Thought I would share this in case anyone else is having the same issue.

  • jeffery keeney

    I have done all the delta plastic faucet vale replacement….water is at the valves…but…no water comes out of the faucet it self. the screens are out of the faucet….could sediment have cloged the water flow from the valves to the faucet…? thanks, jeff 240 626 8274

    • Bryan

      Hey Jeffrey,

      It’s possible that the valve is clogged but it is more likely that the cartridges are not installed correctly. There should be some little notches on the valve body that line up with little tabs on the cartridges. If these are not lined up correctly it can interfere with the water flow.



  • iva kuewa

    ps..this happened after my husband changed the washers in tha hot n cold water handles or something. he replaced something in there.


    • Bryan

      Hey Ive,

      Sorry for the delay, I’m a 1 horse rodeo here. Anyway, sounds like yo need to start over with the repair and just make sure everything is in place. Without more info it’s hard to know what went wrong. Just take your time and you can do it.



  • iva kuewa

    when i go to turn on my water in the shower, no water comes through the spout but it drips from the hot water handle. can you help me, as i have no running water now in my shower at all.

  • Lin

    We have Moen tub faucet that only the cold water will run from. It just suddenly stopped running any hot water through the faucet. All of the other faucets in the bathroom and the entire house run hot. Any ideas what may be wrong with this one faucet?

  • Flowers Brown

    I just purchase this house, an the bathroom only have a tub no shower. Is there a way I can install a shower myself without spending a lot of money calling in a professional?

    • Bryan

      Maybe. It depends on how much work you feel comfortable doing. You will need to get access to the valve in the wall. If it is a 2-handle you will probably need to change the valve. If not, you may be able to connect to an unused branch on the valve. If you don’t feel OK soldering check out Sharkbite fittings.
      Good Luck,.


  • laura

    I have an older delta tub faucet that is leaking. I followed the above instructions and was able to successfully replace the seats and springs. However, after putting everything back together and turning the water back on, it still leaks and only hot water. Any ideas on what is causing this?

  • delta problem

    I am in the process of replacing an older 1500 series delta monitor tub/shower trim with a 1700 series. The cartridge to adapt to the two series installed fine. The problem is the trim sleeve which is short. Spoke to delta rep and she said normally there’s no problem. The older trim sleeve is 1cm longer then the one I have new. Any ideas how I can work this around. With short trim sleeve, there is a gap between the escutchoen plate and the trim sleeve.

  • I would go with the moen because the cartridges in the delta single handled faucets only last about 4 years. The cartridges cost about$ 40.00. Moens stems last about 15-20 years…

    • Bryan

      That really depends on a lot of variables. Moen and Delta offer Lifetime Warranties on both finishes and faucet parts. You can’t go wrong with either one.

  • roger hall

    I can’t get the valve unit assembly out to replace the back O rings.s 2497 and 98 unit part #’s.I pulled the handles,unscrewed the cap but I am afraid to force the assembly out. It appears to have a notch at the bottom and top of the housing where the valve unit fits.Should the assembly just pull straight out or is there a tool. My outside shower unit just pulls straight out not sure if this one does because I’m afraid to force it. If i decide to replace everything with a newer unit can I still use the same housing.Everything is in rough shape. It’s been in there since 1967 and Sears told me they no lomger make anything I have in plumbing in this house.If you can recommend a replacement and give me advice on getting it out I’d appreciate it.I have a sears repair parts list and photos if you could give me advice on how to remove the old valve unit.

    • Bryan

      Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to use the same housing. The best solution is to just change to a new valve. Any mainstream brand (Moen, Delta, Kohler, Etc.) will be fine. If you go with one of these you will have a good selection of trim styles and colors to choose from.

      As for removing the old unit, if you can get to the valve from the back side of the wall you can open the wall and replace it. If not you will have to go through the tile. Good news, if you can get to things from the back side, Moen and Delta offer an enlarged trim plate that will cover the old holes so you don’t have to replace the tile.

  • Excellent article i’m sure that i will come back here again

  • Really like opinion. Hope handicapped tub information assists someone there.

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