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How to Fix a Leaky Shower Head

Few things in life are more annoying than the incessant drip, drip, drip. For some reason, the human brain cannot tune out the sound—the more you try, the louder it seems to get. And beyond the irritation it causes, a leaky shower can also be expensive over time, especially if the drip is from the hot water valve.

Shower Head Leaking? Think Again.

While it may seem like your shower head is the root of the problem, it’s not. You have a leaky shower, and it’s usually due to an issue with the faucet valve stem and/or valve cartridge. Your shower head is likely fine.

Replacing a faucet valve stem and/or valve cartridge can be difficult. Below we have included step-by-step instructions for attempting the job on your own. If the project seems too difficult, it’s always smart to contact a professional plumber who knows exactly what needs to be done and how to do it correctly.

  • Before you begin, you need to shut off the water supply to the shower. There may be a shut-off valve in the bathroom, or you may need to shut off the main water for the whole house.
  • Keep in mind that there will likely be some water remaining in the shower lines, so be prepared for a slight downpour when you begin.
  • Place a towel over the bottom of the tub/shower, covering the drain. This will protect the surface from damage if you drop a tool and will keep small parts out of the drain.

How to Fix an In-wall Faucet Valve

  1. Turn off the water supply to the tub/shower, and cover the bottom, including the drain, with a towel.
  2. If you have a two-valve system, determine which side is causing the tub/shower leak. If the stem is warm and/or the drip is hot, it is likely the hot side. (For convenience and a clear maintenance record, you may want to replace both at the same time, regardless of which side is at fault.)
  3. Remove the handle(s) or knob(s). Then remove the faceplates and sleeves that cover the valve and valve body. Set these aside.
  4. Now that you can see the valve and valve body, unscrew the valve stem and/or cartridge from the valve body with an adjustable wrench by turning it left. (In some cases, you may need to use a cartridge tool specifically designed for your faucet brand.)
  5. Take the valve stem and/or cartridge to a hardware store to determine appropriate replacement parts.
  6. All washers and/or O-rings, as well as the valve seat, should be replaced as well. (These items are typically included in the purchase of new valve stems or cartridges, but check to be sure.)
  7. Before putting everything back together, use a vinegar-and-water solution (equal parts) and an old toothbrush to remove mineral deposits from the area.
  8. Install the new valve stem and/or cartridge into the valve body by turning it clockwise, or according to manufacturer instructions.
  9. Re-install sleeve(s), baseplate(s), and knob(s.)
  10. Turn the water supply back on and run the shower for 30 seconds. Turn off and observe to see if there is still a shower leak. If no drip occurs, use caulk around the entire baseplate to seal it to the wall. (You may need to let the caulk dry for 12 to 24 hours, so read the packaging and plan accordingly.)

Still Need Help? Call a Plumber Near You

If you are still having trouble with a leaking shower, or if you don’t feel comfortable handling the job yourself, contact your local Mr. Rooter® Plumbing. Our customer service is top-notch, and with our up-front, flat-rate pricing, you know you are getting a great deal! Call (855) 982-2028, or request an estimate today.

Tired of a wet, clingy shower curtain getting in your way? It’s time to improve your shower experience all around. Contact your local Glass Doctor to talk about installing a new glass shower door. Just like Mr. Rooter, Glass Doctor is part of Neighborly’s network of home service professionals.

This blog is made available by Mr. Rooter LLC, for educational purposes only to give the reader general information and a general understanding on the specific subject above. The blog should not be used as a substitute for a licensed plumbing professional in your state or region. Check with city and state laws before performing any household project.
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