Shower is too hot or too cold - cartridge broken again?

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Old 03-18-15, 07:28 AM
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Shower is too hot or too cold - cartridge broken again?

Hi,

3 months ago, I was experiencing problems with my kohler shower. I've got a single handle that controls both hot & cold. After moving the shower valve to get the temp I wanted, the temp would continue to vary from hot to cold, sometimes back to hot (or too hot). I could never get the right temp to stay. Googling, I found that the problem was most likely the shower cartridge. From my understanding, there are two parts - one that connects to the pipes, another that connects to the shower handle (sorry for my lack of good terminology). The latter part is what I found at home depot and replaced. After this, the shower worked great!

I even got way more water pressure than before!

Fast forward to this past week - the shower has started giving me only very cold or very hot water. The water is cold until I turn the handle 80% of the way to max hot. At this point, the shower head pops (pipes shake very briefly) and the water all of the sudden gets way too hot. If I turn it down to 50% of the way to max hot, the temp doesn't change. Go down to 30% of max hot, all of the sudden the pipes shake briefly again, and the water goes cold.

I imagine that the little plate in the cartridge (that diverts the water) is not moving unless I go to 30% of max hot OR 80% of max hot. Everything in between, it doesn't move.

Any one have any idea what the problem might be? I guess I could have gotten a defective cartridge, but I really don't want to buy another one just to have the same thing happen (removing and reapplying caulk sucks, too!).

Could it be a problem with the other portion in the wall (the part that connects
to the pipes?)

I do have pretty good water pressure, but my kid's shower (same handle) has
never shown any problems..

Is there something else I should be doing or looking for?

Any help would be greatly greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
 
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Old 03-18-15, 08:10 AM
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You didn't say specifically what faucet you have but faucets with a balancing cartridge are very common. They are designed to help prevent scalding or temperature swings when the water pressure on either the hot or cold varies like when someone flushes the toilet. The problem with them is that the cartridge has a high precision piston inside that must move back and forth freely. Sediment in the water can sometimes get stuck and prevent this piston from moving and you end up with water temperature problems. You can remove the cartridge and give it a thorough cleaning and that often gets them working again.
 
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Old 03-18-15, 08:32 AM
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Pilot Dane - thanks for the response.

I did a little more research. I think I have my terminology better understood.

3 months ago, I replaced the 'Mixer Cap for Pressure Balancing Valve' (Kohler Part #GP77759). I did not replace the Shower Pressure Balancing Unit (I believe Kohler Part #GP500520).

Does this change anything regarding your theory?

My concern is that if wash out the mixer cap (or balancing unit?) and it does fix it, I'll need to this every 3-6 months to have it continue working. If these Kohler parts are known to have problems like this, I'd prefer to buy something that I don't have to worry about this happening again with..
 
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Old 03-18-15, 11:21 AM
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You're largely stuck with what you have. Switching to something else would require replacing the faucet's body in the wall. It might be an option if you have access through the back side of the wall or if you are remodeling but it's not the sort of thing you do on a whim.

I have a different brand faucet in a spare bath that gets used very rarely. It (pressure balancing valve) develops mineral deposits and stops working if I forget to "exercise" the faucet every week or so. Now I have two balancing valves and can do the swap in record time. Then I clean the stuck one I just removed and keep it ready for the next swap. Some of my rental houses get the problem when the city has worked on the water mains and dirt gets into the lines.
 
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