Skip to content
Attention: We are currently on vacation. All orders will not be shipped until the end of February. Thanks for your understanding.
Attention: We are currently on vacation. All orders will not be shipped until the end of February. Thanks for your understanding.
How to fix a leaking shower faucet

How to fix a leaking shower faucet

Are you suffering from a leaky shower faucet? A leaking shower faucet is not only annoying but also costly as it can lead to higher water bills. So, can we fix a leaky faucet ourselves? How to fix it?

Normally, if you have a single-handle shower faucet, you will need to replace the cartridge in your shower valve. For 2-handle shower faucets, replace the washer in the handle on the leaky side. However, if your DIY fix doesn't work, you may need to call a professional plumber.

Below we'll discuss the common causes of a shower faucet leaking and show you the tools you need to fix a leaking shower faucet and how to fix a leaking shower faucet.

How to fix a leaking shower faucet

Common Causes of Leaking Shower Faucets

There are several reasons why a shower faucet may leak. It is important to identify the cause of the leak and take the correct steps to repair it. Here are some common reasons why your shower faucet may be leaking.

O-ring/washer wear

The O-ring is a small rubber ring located inside the shower faucet. It creates a seal and prevents water from leaking when the shower faucet is opened or closed. Over time, this rubber washer will naturally wear down, causing the faucet to leak.

A worn shower faucet cartridge

A cartridge is a valve with a hole in the shower faucet that helps control the flow and temperature of water through the fixture. Cartridges have several small parts and O-rings that may deteriorate or be lost. This can cause problems such as leaks or hot and cold water mixing. The cartridge is only suitable for showers with one faucet handle.

Diverter valve issue

If water is flowing out of the shower head when it should be flowing out of the tub diverter, or vice versa, you may need to replace the diverter valve. A diverter valve helps you divert water back and forth from the shower head to the tub spout.

There are two main types of diverters you may have:

  • Tub diverter. These are the most common. You'll know you have one of these if you have to close the valve on your faucet.
  • Three-valve diverter. These are less common and you'll know you have one of these if there are three valves in the wall (one for hot water and one for hot water). Cold water and other control diverters.
How to fix a leaking shower faucet

    How to Fix a Leaking Shower Faucet

    Tools required:

    • 4-in-1 screwdriver
    • Adjustable wrench
    • Handle puller
    • Knife
    • Deep well socket wrench
    • Needle-nose pliers

    Materials required:

    • Cartridge
    • Plumber's grease
    • Rubber washer
    • Replacement nut

    Method 1: Install a New Cartridge in A Single-handle Shower Faucet

    If your have a single handle shower faucet, you will need to replace the cartridge in your shower valve. Here are instructions for "how to fix a leaky shower faucet single handle.".

    1. Close the water valve before starting

    The water valve controls the flow of water to the shower. It could be in your bathroom or basement. In some cases, it's located behind a panel near the shower stall. Once you find the shower valve, turn the knob clockwise to turn off the water.

    • You may find the panel containing the water valve in the room next to the bathroom. It might even be in the closet.

    2. Use a screwdriver to remove the shower handle

    The screws are located in the center of the knob handle or on the side of the curved handle. Choose a screwdriver that fits the screw head. Then, carefully turn the screwdriver counterclockwise to loosen it. Pull out the screw and set it aside so you can reuse it when you replace the shower handle.

    • Your handle may have more than 1 screw, so make sure you remove them all.
    • If the handle won't come off, try heating it with a hair dryer. Turn the heat to high and blow hot air onto the handle for 1 minute. Drape a towel over the handle to protect your hands from the heat. Then, try pulling off the handle.

    Use a screwdriver to remove the shower handle

    Tip: While every shower faucet is different, most can be removed with a screwdriver. If you have trouble removing your water pipes, you may want to consult a professional plumber.

    3. Use a screwdriver to remove the panel

    The panel is the metal piece located behind the handle. Install the screwdriver bit into the screw on the panel. Next, turn counterclockwise to loosen the screw. Set the screws aside for later use, then carefully pull off the panel and set it aside.

    • Panels may stick to tiles or shower walls. If this happens, shake it gently until it comes free.
    Use a screwdriver to remove the panel

    4. Pull off the metal sleeve on the shower valve behind the panel

    The shower valve looks like part of a metal pipe that connects to the shower handle. It will have a metal sleeve that covers the end of the shower valve. Carefully remove this sleeve with your hands and set it aside for later use.

    • This type of sleeve is called an escutcheon. If you're looking for one at a hardware store, this is what you need to ask about.

    Variations: Some escutcheons are screwed to the shower valve, so you may need to unscrew them. If tightened, you should see threads on the shower valve. Turn the escutcheon counterclockwise to loosen it.

    Pull off the metal sleeve on the shower valve behind the panel

    5. If your shower valve has a locking clip, use pliers to remove it

    Look for the locking clip on the top of the shower valve. It will look like a metal rod and the end should stick out from the top. If you see it, use needle-nose pliers to carefully pull it out. Set it aside so you can replace it after installing the new cartridge.

    • The locking clip should be visible on the top of the valve. They are not found on all shower valves, so don't worry if you don't see them.
    • You may need to use a screwdriver or an awl to pry up the clip.

    6. Install the deep well socket wrench on the valve cartridge

    The valve cartridge looks like a long cylinder with a metal rod extending from the top. Select a deep well socket wrench that fits your filter size and slide it onto the filter inside the valve. Turn it counterclockwise to make sure it catches the cartridge. If the sleeve is too loose, choose a smaller size.

    • A deep well socket wrench is a wrench with a long metal tube on the end so you can remove a nut or screw embedded in a hole.
    • If you don't have a deep well socket wrench, you can buy one at your local hardware store or online. Most deep well socket wrenches come with a range of different sized sockets so you can find one that works for your nut.
    • You can also find tools called "cartridge pullers." These will also remove your cartridges. However, make sure you buy the right filter puller for your shower faucet brand.
    • The shower cartridge is the part of the shower valve that controls the flow and temperature of water.
    Install the deep well socket wrench on the valve cartridge

    7. Turn the wrench counterclockwise to remove the cartridge

    Use the handle to slowly turn the wrench to loosen the cartridge. Continue turning until the cartridge feels free.

    • The cartridge may come out of the deep well socket wrench. However, after the wrench is pulled out, it remains in the shower valve, which is normal. That's okay because you can remove it by hand.

    8. Use needle-nose pliers to pull out the cartridge

    Use needle nose pliers to secure the end of the cartridge. Then, carefully pull the cartridge out from inside the shower valve.

    • If you haven't replaced the cartridge yet, take the old cartridge to your local hardware store to find a matching cartridge. For an easy selection, show it to an experienced associate and let them find your match.
    Use needle-nose pliers to pull out the cartridge

    9. Install the new cartridge element into the shower valve by turning it clockwise

    Slide the new cartridge element into the empty shower valve. Then, place the deep well socket wrench on the cartridge and turn it clockwise. Stop when the cartridge feels tight.

    10. Replace the shower valve sleeve, panel and shower handle

    Slide the shower valve sleeve (escutcheon) back onto the shower valve and put the panel back into place. Use a screwdriver to secure the panel to the shower wall. Finally, screw the shower handle back into place.

    • If your shower valve has a locking clip, don't forget to replace it before replacing the shower valve sleeve.

    Replace the shower valve sleeve, panel and shower handle

    11. Turn the water valve back on and test the shower faucet

    Turn the knob on the water valve counterclockwise to turn the water back on. Then, turn on the shower faucet and see if it's working properly. Finally, turn off the shower and make sure the leak is gone.

    • If your shower is still leaking, you'll need to call a professional plumber to fix it.

    The Video Tutorial "Faucet Repair: How to Repair a Leaky Shower Faucet" from homesteady

    Mehod 2: Replace the Washer in a 2-handle Shower Faucet

    If your have a two-handle shower faucet, when your shower faucet leaks, you generally need to replace the washer on the leaking side. Here are instructions for "how to fix a leaky shower faucet with two handles".

    1. Close the water valve before starting

    The water valve controls the flow of water to the shower faucet and is usually located in your bathroom or basement. You may find it behind a panel on the other side of the shower. Turn the knob on the shower valve clockwise to turn off the water.

    • If you can't find the shower valve, look in the room next to the shower stall. You may find the panel there.

    2. Feel the water flowing from the shower faucet to see if it is hot or cold

    Check the water temperature by placing your hand over the leak. If it's cold, then it is likely the cold water faucet is leaking. Hot water, on the other hand, means the hot side may leak.

    • Maybe both sides are leaking. If this is the case, you can replace the washer on the second side if the leak doesn't go away after replacing the first washer.

    Feel the water flowing from the faucet to see if it is hot or cold

    3. Use a screwdriver to remove the shower handle on the leaking side

    Look for the screw in the center of the shower handle. Install the screwdriver into the screw holding the shower handle in place. Then, turn the screwdriver counterclockwise to loosen the screw and remove it. Finally, set the screws and handle aside for later use.

    Use a screwdriver to remove the shower handle on the leaking side

    Tip: If your handle screws have a decorative plate over the screw, you'll need to pry them off first. Use a flat-blade screwdriver to pull it out.

    4. Remove the metal panel attached to the shower wall

    This is the metal piece located underneath the handle. Check inside the panel to see if there are threads, there probably are. Turn counterclockwise and gently unscrew the metal plate. When it comes off, set it aside until you're ready to put it back on.

    • This is also called an escutcheon.

    Remove the metal panel attached to the shower wall

    5. Slide the deep well socket wrench over the metal rod and onto the nut

    The nut will be deep in the wall, so you'll need a deep well socket wrench to reach it. Choose a size that looks good and slide it onto the metal pole. Secure the end of the wrench to the shower valve nut at the base of the shower valve stem.

    • A deep well socket wrench is a wrench with a long metal tube on the end. It allows you to access the nuts embedded inside the structure.
    • You can find deep well socket wrenches at your local hardware store or online. They are often sold in sets, so you can choose the right size outlet for your needs.
    • To ensure the correct size, turn the wrench counterclockwise to ensure it clamps the nut.

    6. Unscrew the shower valve nut and set it aside

    Turn the wrench counterclockwise until the nut is loose. Then, remove the wrench and nut from the shower valve. Set the nut aside so you can put it back on later.

    • The nut should snap into place in the wrench when you pull it out.

    7. Pull the metal rod out of the wall and set it aside

    The metal lever is the part of the shower faucet that turns the handle. Use your fingers to carefully remove the metal rod. Since the nut isn't holding it in place, it should slide out easily. Set the metal rod aside so it can be reused.

    8. Remove the old rubber washer and install the new rubber washer

    Use needle nose pliers to pull out the old rubber O-ring washer from around the shower valve. It should come off easily since it's just pressed against the valve. Discard the old washer and press the new rubber O-ring washer onto the shower valve. Rank it in exactly the same position as the old one.

    • Make sure your replacement rubber washer is the same size as your existing rubber washer. This will ensure a proper fit.
    • It's best to buy a kit that includes a variety of washer sizes, as you won't know exactly what size you need until you take the shower faucet apart.
    • Coat the new washer with heat-resistant shower faucet grease to improve the seal.
    Remove the old rubber washer and install the new rubber washer

    9. Replace metal rods, panels and shower handles

    Slide the metal rod back into place. Then, place the nut into the deep well socket wrench. Slide the wrench over the metal rod and turn the replacement nut clockwise. Next, place the panel against the wall and twist to secure it in place. Finally, screw the shower handle back onto the metal rod.

    Replace metal rods, panels and shower handles

    Variations: If your metal rod is damaged or worn, you can purchase a replacement from your local hardware store for about $15. Bring your old stem to the store to help you find the right fit.

    10. Open the water valve and test the shower faucet

    Turn the knob on the water valve counterclockwise so the water returns to normal. Next, turn on the shower faucet and make sure the water is flowing properly. Finally, turn off the faucet and check to see if the leak has been fixed.

    • If the leak persists, try replacing the washer on the other side. If this doesn't work, you'll need to call a professional plumber.

    The video Tutorial "Two Handle Shower Faucet Repair: Let's Fix This Annoying Leaky Faucet!!!" from ProjectDIY


    Please note that the above is a general fix guide only. Different shower faucet models may have different disassembly and assembly steps. If you're unsure about the repair process, or the problem persists, consider seeking professional help or consulting a plumbing professional.

    If you are Bostingner customers, you can buy Bostingner shower faucet and shower parts from Bostingner online store. You can also visit Bostingner YouTube channel to get some installation guide videos.

    FAQ About Leaking Shower Faucet

    Q: Why is my shower faucet leaking?
    A: A leaking shower faucet may be caused by a worn-out washers, damaged cartridges, loose connection, or shower valve problem. Determining the specific cause is critical to effective repair.

    Q: Can I fix a leaking shower faucet myself?
    A: Yes, many shower faucet leaks can be fixed with a DIY project. Tools required typically include screwdrivers, adjustable wrenches, pliers, and replacement parts such as washers or cartridges.

    Q: How can I tell if my shower faucet has a cartridge or washer?
    A: Single-handle shower faucets usually have a cartridge, while double-handle shower faucets usually use washers. If unsure, consult the manufacturer's documentation or seek professional advice.

    Q: What should I do if my shower faucet is leaking?
    A: Turn off the water supply to the shower. This is usually done by turning off the water valve in the bathroom or the main water supply to the house.

    Q: Can a leaking shower faucet cause water damage?
    A: Yes, ongoing leaks can cause water damage, including mold growth and structural issues. Leaks must be addressed promptly to avoid such problems.

    Q: If my shower valve leaks, do I need to replace the entire shower valve?
    A: Not always. In many cases, replacing a specific component such as a cartridge or washer is sufficient. However, if the shower valve itself is damaged, it may need to be replaced.

    Q: How do I know if my shower valve needs to be replaced?
    A: Signs may include severe corrosion, continued leaking after replacing parts, or difficulty controlling water temperature. It is recommended to consult a plumber for a professional assessment.

    Q: Can I use replacement parts for my shower faucet?
    A: It is critical to use compatible replacement parts recommended by the faucet manufacturer. Using incorrect parts can cause further problems and potential damage.

    Q: Should I hire a professional plumber to fix a leaking shower faucet?
    A: If you are unsure of the cause of the leak, lack the necessary tools, or a DIY fix does not work, it is recommended to consult a professional plumber to ensure a correct and long-lasting fix.

    Previous article How to remove tub spout without set screw
    Next article What type of shower valve do i have?

    Leave a comment

    Comments must be approved before appearing

    * Required fields