Project Guide: Repairing a Cartridge Tub and Shower Faucet
Cartridge faucets generally use an up/down motion to regulate water flow and
control temperature with a left/right motion. If you have a two-handle faucet
and the handles turn 90 degrees, you have either a cartridge or ceramic disk
Repairing a cartridge tub and shower faucet is a project many homeowners who
are handy with a few basic tools can do themselves. Cartridge faucets
typically develop leaks because the O-ring that cushions the faucet stem
becomes worn or breaks. Repairing a leaky cartridge tub and shower faucet is
usually a matter of removing the cartridge and replacing any worn or damaged
As long as you’re removing the cartridge for repairs, you may find it easier
to replace the cartridge itself. If you want to replace the cartridge, take
the old cartridge you’re replacing to the store so you can match it to the
exact cartridge you need. You may also want to pick up a repair kit, which has
everything you need to replace all the parts in your faucet at one time, so
your repair will last even longer. If you cannot remove the cartridge, and
there is a visible mineral buildup, apply a calcium and lime remover to the
affected area. Do not apply petroleum-based solvents, as these can damage
parts of the faucet.
Before You Begin
Block the drain opening with a cloth.
Place a blanket in your tub to protect it from dropped tools.
Some faucets come with lifetime warranties on parts. Check with the
manufacturer for details.
Turn off the water at the shut off valves. These valves can usually be found
in the basement, utility closet or crawlspace, or in a closet behind the
bathroom wall that holds your tub's plumbing fixtures and accessed via a
removable panel. If you don't have an access panel, you can turn off the water
at the main water supply. To learn more about shutting off the water, watch
to Shut Off a Valve video.
Remove the Handle
Pry off the handle cap.
Remove the screw holding the faucet handle in place.
Remove the handle.
Remove the Decorative Trim
Remove any screws holding the decorative trim behind the handle in place.
Use a plastic putty knife to pry off the cap.
Clean any old caulk off the cap with the putty knife.
Remove the Retaining Clip
Expose the retaining clip by removing the sleeve from the handle.
Grip the end of the retaining clip with a pair of pliers and pull it out.
Pull the Cartridge Out
Pull the cartridge straight out of the housing with a pair of pliers or a
Use a soft bristle brush to remove any mineral or lime deposits.
Replace the old O-rings with new ones coated with silicone grease.
Install the O-ring on the cartridge.
Reassemble the faucet.
If the hot or cold water is reversed, remove the cartridge, rotate it 180
degrees and reassemble the faucet.