Install a Single-Valve Shower Faucet Valve Install a Single-Valve Shower Faucet Valve

What You'll Need
•    Screw drivers•    Pliers or channel lock pliers•    Razor knife•    Tub socket wrench•    Gloves•    Handle puller•    Seat removal wrench•    Seat grinding tool•    File

Your shower plumbing likely has three separate valves: hot water, cold water, and the shower faucet valve. The shower faucet valve is typically located in the center. It is the knob that controls whether water comes out of the faucet for the tub or the shower head. Some showers and tubs have only one valve. If that is the case with your shower, you need separate instructions in order to replace it correctly.

You may be looking to replace the valve because it is leaky or damaged. The process is fairly simple and may be done without a plumber to save money.

Step 1 - Prepare the Area

Start by closing the drain to prevent any small parts from going missing. You need to turn off both the hot and cold water to the shower. There are either valves on the water lines behind the wall if there is an access panel behind the tub, in a closet or in the wall, or you have to shut the whole house off. Once you have done this, open the faucets to allow water to drain.

Step 2 - Remove the Old Faucet

Most faucet handles have some type of plastic or metal face plate in the center. Using a sharp object such as a screw driver or knife, pop this out.

This will reveal a small screw. Remove this screw. Be sure to set these parts aside carefully. Once the screw is removed, you should be able to easily remove the faucet handle to expose the cartridge.

TIP:Doityourself’s plumbing consultant Mark Vander Sande suggests, “You may need a handle puller in the handle does not come off easily.”

The escutcheon is the face plate that surrounds the valve. There is usually a sleeve before the escutcheon, or chrome plate on the wall. This needs to be unscrewed and then remove the escutcheon. You can typically remove this simply by pulling it. If it is caulked to the wall, cut a line in the caulking with a knife or screwdriver to loosen it.

Step 3 - Remove the Cartridge or Valve Stem

There is either a cartridge or a brass valve stem. The cartridge is held in place to the valve stem with a chrome nut. The brass valve stem is attached to the valve body and needs to be unscrewed from the valve body. You need a tub socket set to do this. Chose the right size socket, put it over the valve stem and unscrew it.

Once you have the stem removed there is a washer on the end of it. Remove the screw and the washer and replace the washer.

The cartridge looks like a small pipe that connects the valve to the plumbing. You will see it sticking out from the wall. It is usually held in place with a nut or a retainer clip. Remove this piece. To remove the cartridge, use a set of pliers to grasp the tip. Pull lightly and slowly. The cartridge should come out fairly easily. You may be replacing your cartridge along with your faucet valve. If not, this is a great time to clean the cartridge and replace the O-ring to stop leaks. You can clean the cartridge with a rag or soft toothbrush. Your hardware store will supply new O-rings to form a good seal with the cartridge.

TIP:Mark adds, “If it is a plastic cartridge, look in the valve and see if there is a washer and a spring below the washer. Take a small screw driver and put it in the middle of the washer and spring and remove it from the valve, go to the hardware and get replacements.”

Step 4 – Check the Valve Seats

There are seats inside the valve body that need to be checked. The seats are inside where the washers seal the valve. If they are chipped or damaged you can either remove them with a seat removal tool and get new ones at the hardware store, or file them smooth with a fine file or use a seat grinding tool to grind them smooth while in the valve body. If you buy new seats, use the seat wrench and reinstall them in the valve body.

Step 5 - Install the New Faucet Parts

Take the old faucet to your hardware store to ensure the new one will be a match for your existing plumbing. Follow the steps in reverse for installing the new faucet.

Step 6 - Test the Faucet

Turn the water back on. Test the faucet by turning on the hot water and cold water independently. Check for any leaks. Switch from tub to shower to see that this is also working correctly.

TIP:Mark says, “Most home centers or hardware stores have replacement handles, stem covers and escutcheons. If the ones you have are old and damaged replace these as well as rebuilding the faucet. Bring the old ones with you and match them up to new ones.”

Mark Vander Sande, professional plumber, contributed to this article.

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