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How to Fix a Leaky Shower Faucet – Ultimate DIY Guide

how to fix leaky shower faucet
Written by Callum Strempel

One of the most common household problems is a leaky shower faucet whatever may be the type. It’s a problem that can cause many issues including an increase in mold build up, an annoying drip, and it can have a negative impact on the environment as well as your water bill.

A faucet that leaks one drop per second, can waste 3000 gallons of water a year, and could cost you at least $200 to have fixed. Here’s a quick and easy guide to fixing your leaky shower faucet, both single and two handled faucets.

What You Will Need

Before you begin, turn off your water valve. If you have a two handled faucet, determine which tap the leak is coming from before turning off your water valve. This may be located in a closet close to the bathroom, the basement or behind the shower itself.

  • A flathead screwdriver
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Deep-welled socket wrench / Hex wrench or a cartridge puller
  • Needle-nosed pliers

How to Fix a Leaky Shower Faucet: Single Handle

Fix a Leaky Shower Faucet

  • Drain the water from the System

After turning off the water valve, turn on the faucet to clear all the water from the pipes.The other bathroom taps can also be opened to ensure the taps are fully flushed out.

  • Put the stopper into the tub

To ensure no parts are dropped down the drain, cover the drain with the stopper or something else to prevent any parts being lost.

  • Unscrew the shower handle

Using a Philips screwdriver, gently remove the shower handle. Once unscrewed, the handle should pull off easily. You may find that the screw to remove the faucet is located under a cap that can be removed with a flathead screwdriver.

  • Remove the Faceplate

Fastened to the wall, the faceplate prevents any water from going into the wall cavity. This can be removed by pulling and wiggling it free.

  • Remove the Escutcheon

Also called the sleeve and should come off easily by hand. If this is not coming away by hand, then it may be screwed in place. If so, unscrew and pull it free.

  • Remove the Locking Clip

Remove the locking clip that keeps the cartridge in place. This U-shaped piece of metal, can be seen sticking out vertically from the cartridge. Remove this by lifting upwards with the flathead screwdriver.

  • Remove the Cartridge

Gently loosen and remove the cartridge. This requires a tool that can be purchased from a hardware store or rented from a plumbing house.

  • Get your new Cartridge

If you don’t already know the model number and cartridge type, take it with you to the DIY store to purchase a replacement, to ensure the cartridge is replaced with the correct type.

  • Install the new Cartridge

Using the socket wrench install the new cartridge. Insert the new cartridge and slowly tighten it by rotating it clockwise in the socket, ensure not to over-rotate when doing this.

  • Reassemble the Faucet

Replace the locking clip onto the cartridge. Slide the escutcheon back on, and screw if needed. Replace the faceplate and screw on the handle.

  • Test Your Repair

Turn on the water valve, and then your faucet. The repair is complete and should no longer be leaking.

How to Fix a Leaky Shower Faucet: Two-Handle

Repair a Leaky Shower Faucet

  • Determine where the Leak is Coming From

Check which tap is leaking. You can do this by feeling the temperature of the water. The faucet that is causing the leak, will be the one that you’ll be working on.

  • Drain the water from the System

After turning off the water valve, turn on the faucet to clear all the water from the pipes. The other bathroom taps can also be opened to ensure the taps are fully flushed out.

  • Put the stopper into the tub

To ensure no parts are dropped down the drain, cover the drain with the stopper or something else to prevent any parts being lost.

  • Take off the Shower Faucet Handle

Unscrew the shower faucet handle. You may find some resistance. If so, apply some pressure to the sides of the tap and pull with some force or use a faucet puller. The screw to remove the faucet may be located under a cap, which is removed by inserting a screwdriver with a flathead underneath and lifting it.

  • Remove the Faceplate

The faceplate may be sealed down with caulk. Break the seal and unscrew to remove. You should replace this later once the leak has been fixed.

  • Take off the Escutcheon

Also called the sleeve and should slide off easily by hand. If this is not coming away by hand, then it may be screwed on. If so, unscrew and remove it.

  • Unscrew the Retaining Nut

You may need a hex wrench and hammer to be able to loosen this.

  • Take out the Stem

Using a deep length socket hand wrench and turn counterclockwise to remove. Unscrew the faucet stem from the valve.

  • Inspect the Stem for Damage

Clean off the stem and ensure there is no rust. If there is, soak in white vinegar for 2-3 hours and scrub with a wire brush. This should remove any rust. If it’s very worn, then you may need to replace the stem with a new one.

  • Change the Washers

Remove the old washers, clean the stem and replace with new O-rings. The flat washer on the end of the stem can be replaced by removing the small screw first.

  • Grease the stem

Using plumber grease, grease the threads of the stem. You can purchase this at any hardware store.

  • Reassemble Your Faucet

Replace the stem and retaining nut. Push on the escutcheon, and screw on if needed. Replace the faceplate and screw on the handle.

  • Test Your Repair

Turn on the water valve, and then your faucet. The repair is complete and should no longer be leaking. If it is still leaking, the other faucet may also need the washers replacing. Once complete, replace the caulk around the faceplate.

Conclusion

Faucet washers and cartridges can last anywhere between 2-20 years, and it’s important to keep them in good repair, so any leaks don’t get worse over time. Change them regularly to ensure your faucets and kept well sealed and avoid any costly maintenance bills that could mean calling out a plumber to fix in the future.

FAQs

1. What causes a leaky shower faucet or shower head drip?

Ans. Over time and with regular use, the inner seals of the faucet will wear down and parts can become corroded. Connections between moving parts can also wear down and rubber O-rings will need replacing. All of these factors can contribute to a leaky shower faucet and shower head.

2. How to fix a leaky delta shower faucet?

Ans. Providing your faucet is within the warranty period, Delta will repair and replace parts free of charge. If you’re outside of your warranty period, Delta manufacture their shower valves to be universal, so replacing these shouldn’t be much different.

About the author

Callum Strempel

Licensed Plumber

Hi, I’m Callum, a full time plumber with a plumbing license issued by my state. So far, I’ve spent nearly a decade and a half installing and fixing a wide variety of plumbing components and units. My profession inspires me to talk about the kitchen and bathroom (and the plumbing system) so confidently and knowledgeably that I offer my free consultations to help neighbors and fellow homeowners every now and then. As I enjoy installing faucets, sinks, showers, and fixtures, I love to see people enjoying services from those components for years to come. So, I write every week to inform you and others. Will you mind going through some of my articles on this website?

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