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Newkirk Wallcovering and Painting

Bath tub faucet cartridge replacement

Changing a faucet cartridge on a shower/tub diverter

If the faucet handles in your shower/tub unit either don't turn the water all the way off, or the water is spraying out of the handle you may need to replace the cartridges. This also could be a fix for less than $1. Here's why.

Changing a faucet cartridge on a shower/tub diverter can be a bit challenging but at least you don't have to shut off the main water supply. Just make sure the hot and cold faucets are turned completely off and it's a good idea to drain the supply line to the shower head before starting. First pop off the cover plate with a small pocket knife or screwdriver. (IMPORTANT) Don't forget to close the drain in case any small parts fall into the tub.



Removing Faucet Handle

Behind the face plate is a small screw that holds on the faucet handle. When removing brass screws it's important to use the correct sized screwdriver. Brass pieces are normally a softer metal compound and will damage easily if not removed/replaced with the proper tools.

Removing Faucet Handle

Once the handle is off I can see the front of the stem cartridge I am going to replace. I also noticed some oxidation on the existing valve/cartridge.



Getting to the cartridge

To reach the nut that holds the cartridge in place I need to remove the decorative ring on the outside. This ring is threaded and also holds the back plate against the tile.


Removing decorative ring from cartridge

Using a rag so I don't scratch the chrome, I gently grip and turn the ring with a pair of pliers until it is free from the cartridge.



Correct tool in hand

Remember these plumbing parts are soft brass, so using the correct tool such as a wrench made especially for this purpose is a good idea. Firmly holding the wrench on the nut, I begin to loosen the cartridge. It might take a little effort, so be patient. I also squirted a little WD-40 on the nut to help with the removal process. If you don't have any WD-40 or an equivalent in your tool box, I would strongly suggest you get some. It will save you a lot of time and trouble.


Removing the cartridge

Now that the nut has been removed, simply pull out the cartridge with a pair of pliers. If it doesn't come out right away, try (gently) moving it up, down, and side to side until it comes loose. It will come out of there. The only thing holding it in place is a little corrosion on the surface of the brass.



Repair the cartridge for under $1

Now here is where it is possible to repair the cartridge for under a dollar! The back rubber washer on the end of the cartridge is usually worn down to nothing (not making a good seal). Causing water to flow past where it normally is stopped. Replacing this little washer might save you the cost of a new cartridge which range from $6 to $50+. You make the call on whether or not to replace the entire cartridge based on the age and condition of the hardware. In this case I felt I was better safe than sorry. This cartridge showed a lot of wear from over the years. I chose to replace it with a new one.

New Cartridge in hand

***Super Important*** Take the old cartridge with you to the local hardware/plumbing supplier for an exact match. There are so many types out there its hard to believe. Also it would be beneficial if you could find a brand name somewhere stamped on the faucet.

Here I'm back from the hardware store holding an exact match of the old cartridge. We are ready to install it.



Lubricating the cartridge

Before I slide the cartridge into the housing I put just a touch of petroleum jelly on the outside as a lubricant. Don't use lotions or soaps as they could possibly gum up the workings of the cartridge.


Adding some Teflon tape

I am going to put a small piece of teflon tape on the threads of the cartridge nut to help the threads go together easier. It also provides a little bit of a seal to prevent water leaks.


No runs, no drips, no errors - J. Bench

Once the new cartridge is tightly fitted back in place I ran water through the faucet and the shower head checking for leaks or drips from the newly installed water diverter cartridge. When everything was tightened down with no leaks I put the face plate back on the handle, caulked a few areas that needed it and cleaned up any mess I might have made during the replacement process.

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