Fix That Leaking Shower Yourself

If you're tired of jiggling the shower handle to get it to stop dripping, it's time to fix the problem once and for all. If you have a single-handled shower control, you can easily do the repair yourself. Here are the steps to stop that annoying dripping from your shower.

Supplies You'll Need for This Project

  • flat-blade screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • channel lock pliers
  • an old rag for cleanup

From the plumbing supplies shop:

  • tube of plumber's grease
  • washers for the shower cartridge

Manufacturers design their own cartridges, which is the shaft that slips into the wall and controls the water when you turn the shower handle. One or more rubber washers on the shaft are what is causing the leak. The easiest way to get the right washers for the cartridge is to remove it and take it to the plumbing or home improvement store and have the staff match the washers for you.

Removing the Shower Cartridge

  1. Turn the water off to the shower. If a separate water shutoff is not available, you'll need to shut the water off to your house.
  2. Pry the decorative cap off of the shower handle.
  3. Loosen the screw under the cap and pull the handle straight off.
  4. Remove the plastic stop tube that slips over the cartridge.
  5. Pull off the clip that secures the cartridge in place.
  6. Remove the cartridge by pulling it straight out of the wall.
  7. Wipe the cartridge off and take it to the store to match the rubber washers on it.

If there is a lot of corrosion on the cartridge, consider getting a new cartridge. Again, have the staff help you match the cartridge so you get the right model.

Installing the New or Repaired Cartridge

  1. Put a small amount of plumber's grease on the washers on the cartridge.
  2. Insert the cartridge into the hole in the wall.
  3. Turn the cartridge as you push it into place. You'll feel it click into place when it is in the right position.
  4. Replace the clip that holds the cartridge in place.
  5. Insert the stop tube around the cartridge.
  6. Push the handle back onto the end of the cartridge and secure it with the screw.
  7. Replace the decorative cap over the screw.
  8. Turn the water back on to the shower.

Problems You May Encounter

You may need a plumbing remodeling center's help if you encounter any of these issues:

  • You can't get the handle off because of corrosion or the screw holding the handle in place is stripped.
  • You can't pull the cartridge out of the wall because of corrosion.

Corrosion can be a problem in an old shower. If there is a lot of corrosion, consider having a plumber replace the shower components and water pipes with new pieces. You'll get many more years of use from the shower and future maintenance will be easier.