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Shower Faucet Repair - the basics

Shower leaks can be difficult to fix, especially if you have limited experience in home repair. Unlike sink faucets, shower faucets involve hot and cold water channels, and they have to deliver water either to the shower head or the tub spout. Since they are wall-mounted, you will also have to work vertically, which can be tiring. But though it takes some patience, shower faucet repair involves only basic plumbing and tile work, and repairs can take as little as two hours. Below is a quick step-by-step guide to basic shower repair.

1. Remove the valve cap and handle.

Use a small, hard point such as a nail file tip to push the cap off the faucet valve. This should expose the handle and handle screw, which controls the turning of the valve. Loosen the screw and remove the handle. Lever handles usually have setscrews, which may be covered with a small hex or slotted cap.

2. Remove the cover plate.

In some faucets, you may have to remove other parts before you can access the cover plate or escutcheon. Label each part by number as you remove them so you can put them back properly after the repair.

3. Close the stop-check valves (if there are any).

Stop-check valves are large plugs leading from the hot and cold feeds. Most models close clockwise and open counterclockwise. If you can't access the valves or if it has no shutoff controls, turn off the hot and water controls or the entire water supply.

4. Remove the cartridges.

Cartridges have different installation types, so consult your manual for removal instructions. In most models, a retainer clip holds the cartridge in place. You can pull off the clip using a wrench. If the cartridge is secured by nuts, simply unscrew the nuts and remove the cartridge.

5. Clean the valve.

Remove any dirt from the valve that can cause a leak. Open one of the water lines temporarily so you can flush out dirt from the valve body. Make sure not to wet the wall opening – you can line the area under and around the valve with a dry rag to keep water out.

6. Replace the O-ring and cartridge.

Use a small scrub or a soft toothbrush to clean the cartridge, then put the O-ring back at the base of the stem. Be sure to fit the O-ring tightly to keep water from leaking through the cartridge. Before fixing them in place, reinstall them temporarily to make sure they work.

Some tips

Before starting: cover the drain hole to keep from losing small parts like screws and nuts. Cover the tub or shower floor with a tray or any hard board to protect them in case you drop heavy tools.If you can't get the tap to work after reinstalling, you may have to replace the cartridge. You can get a cartridge repair kit at the store, which usually includes a cartridge, grease, a set of O-rings, and installation instructions.