How to Repair a Three-Handle Tub and Shower Faucet

What You'll Need
Adjustable Wrench
Universal Handle Removing Tool
Plumbers Heat Proof or Waterproof Grease
Screwdriver (Phillips)
Electrical Tape
Bibb Washers, Bibb Screws, Bibb Seat (found at local hardware store)
Bather Diverter Washers
Pre-formed packing

When it comes to repairing a three handle tub and shower faucet, it can be a scary job. Repair time is usually when leaks become a problem. But with some time and patience, it can be done without needing to call or spend money on a professional.

Step 1–Shut Off the Water

This is an extremely important step that needs to be done before any work is started. If the water is left on, it will be a wet situation.

Step 2 -Remove the Trim

The trim includes all handles and escutcheons. Escutcheons hide the holes in the wall and usually are tubes and rings or cones. Some handles are screw caps and can be removed by placing a fingernail under the cap to pop it off, exposing screws which hold the handle to the wall. Next, use the Phillips screwdriver to remove the screws. If the handle doesn’t easily pull off, the universal handle removing tool is needed. Now the escutcheons must be removed. It is recommended to wrap them in electrical tape to protect from getting scratched. The cone type is the easiest and usually screws off. The tube and ring requires a look, for a hole on the edge, then loosen the screw beside the hole and pull off.

Step 3 -Remove the Bonnet

A bonnet, also known as a collar, is made of soft brass and holds the faucet’s stem in place. Screw out the bonnet using the adjustable wrench. The stem should come out with it, but if it does not screw it out. Since everything is apart, this is a great time to replace all washers, screws and seats. There are bibb washers, bibb screws, and bibb seats; be sure to use the correct seat for the faucet.

Step 4 –Replace Cap Thread Gasket

This gasket can be found on the back of the bonnet. Take a small screwdriver and pluck out the packaging in the front of the bonnet. Next, replace it with new packaging. It is important to use the right, pre-formed packing. Once the new packing is put into the bonnet, the packing is placed over the stem. By using only hand strength, screw the packing nut. Now take the plumbers heat proof or waterproof grease and coat the threaded area of the stem. This ensures less wear and easier operation of the faucet. Since this a three-piece system, the center control is different and will need Bath Diverter Washers.

Step 5 –Together Again

It’s time to put it back together. Since the stem is in the bonnet, with full open position, the assembly must be screwed back into the valve body. Full open position is when the stem is screwed to the back of the bonnet as close to the back as possible. Now take the adjustable wrench and tighten it up. Push on the handles for the cold and hot water while making sure the valve shows off. Turn the water on. Turn on one valve at a time. There may be water leaking around the packing nut. If so, take the wrench and turn it until the leaking stops. Take a look for leaks around the bonnet, and tighten if needed. Lastly replace the trim.

Now the handles are repaired and no more leaks when turning off the water.