As with any plumbing fixture, the constant use of a shower handle can eventually wear it out or break it. This short article explains the process of replacing a handle on the popular Moen shower. It is an easy and inexpensive project, so before hiring a plumber, try tackling this one on your own.
Normal Wear or Another Problem?
Normal wear and tear are the most common cause of a faulty shower handle. Before going to full replacement of the handle, consider these two possibilities:
- Loose handle: The shower handle can slowly loosen over time and create additional friction that can then wear out the shaft at the point where the handle grips the stem of the cartridge. If you feel the shower handle getting loose, pop off the screw cover and tighten the handle screw. Keeping this screw tight can help a shower handle last longer.
- Broken shaft inside of the handle: The shaft seems to be the weakest piece of the handle, and it is the most common piece to break. The shaft can break from normal wear and tear, but it can also break because the cartridge became too stiff, requiring force to operate. If you have a hard time turning the water on or turning it from left to right, it is an indication that the cartridge is too stiff. When this happens you should replace the Moen cartridge. Otherwise replacing the shower handle will be a temporary fix, and you may be replacing it again soon.
Removing the Old Handle and Getting a Replacement
If the shower handle just fell off, removal is not necessary: you just install a new handle. Often, though, some pieces will be attached to the cartridge stem, requiring you to take them off.
- Remove the handle cover-plate that is hiding the handle screw. You can do this easily with a thin, flat screwdriver. Pry the screw cover outward in a few areas until it pops off.
- Then remove the handle screw and remove the handle by pulling it straight out. You may need to wiggle the handle gently from side to side.
When shopping for a new handle for your Moen faucet, make sure you choose the right one. Several different types are available to match different Moen models. The easiest way to ensure this is by bringing the broken handle in with you to the local hardware or home improvement store. Make sure to bring all the pieces. Or, you can take a picture of the handle from a few different angles and bring it in with you. Someone at the hardware or home improvement store should be able to assist you with finding the right part. Have them open the package if there is any doubt that it is the right handle.
If you are not in a hurry or if you have trouble finding the right part, yet another way to get a replacement shower handle is to contact the manufacturer. You can often get both a new handle and a new cartridge through the customer service department. See: Buying plumbing repair parts.
Installing the New Handle
With the right replacement handle, installing it should be incredibly easy and quick.
- NOTE: if the shower/tub drain is directly below the shower head, it's a good idea to cover the drain with a towel before you begin, just in case you drop the fastening screw.
- Fit the handle onto the cartridge by pushing it straight on. Just make sure that it is facing the right direction.
- Put the handle screw through the hole in the handle and into the cartridge. Screw it in nice and firm, but don’t over-tighten, because it is easy to strip the screw threads from too much force.
- Push the screw cover cap into place on the handle. It should snap in nice and evenly on all sides. Try turning the shower on and off a few times to make sure it is working right and that the handle does not need any more tightening.