Some pull-out shower faucet handles (also called pull-push shower faucet handles) can slowly become harder to use over time. Don't struggle with a stiff or sticky pull-out shower handle when a cartridge replacement can fix it. The cartridge is there to control the water flow of the shower and tub, but it can become corroded over time making it difficult to use the handle. Although the process may differ a little per handle, virtually all single-handle, pull-out shower or tub faucets can be fixed with these steps.
Before You Begin
It's important to turn off the water to the shower before attempting these steps. In most cases, shower shutoff valves will be found in an access hatch behind the shower wall. If you can't find fixture shutoff valves, then you may need to shut off the water to the entire house.
Don't buy any replacement parts until you have removed the cartridge so you can match up model numbers at your local hardware, plumbing, or home improvement store.
If you can't remove the cartridge, it could mean it's too corroded to remove. You may need to call in a professional plumber to finish the job. In addition, once you have finished replacing the cartridge, check to see if the hot and cold water positions are correct. If not, it simply means you need to rotate the cartridge.
Equipment / Tools
- Flat-head screwdriver
- Phillips-head screwdriver
- Needle-nose pliers
- Replacement cartridge
- 1 tube silicone plumber's grease
Remove Faceplate and Screw
Remove the index button, or faceplate, located on the middle of the faucet handle. Use a flat-head screwdriver to gently jiggle it off. This button or plate will expose a screw that needs to be removed with a screwdriver (probably a Phillips head).
Remove the Sleeve
You will see a metal tube, called a sleeve, that covers and protects the cartridge. Pull it out using your hand or tug on it with needle- nose pliers.
Remove the Clip
Then you will need to use the pliers to remove the clip (or nut) that holds the cartridge in place. Carefully remove the clip and set it aside because you will need to reuse it with the new cartridge.
If the clip is corroded, use WD-40 on it to loosen it up.
Pull out the Cartridge
Once the clip is removed, you will need to remove the cartridge, which is a long tube. If you have trouble taking it out with the pliers, it may be corroded so squirt some WD-40 onto it and try tugging on it to see if it's loosened up. If successful, take it to the store to buy a replacement of the same model.
If it is impossible to remove the cartridge, don't force it out of the handle. It means it's time to call in a professional plumber. It's either very corroded or your particular model could require a special removal tool that a plumber will have on hand.
Grease the New Cartridge
Before replacing the old cartridge with the new one, use your finger to lubricate it with a light coating of silicone plumber's grease to make it easier to remove when it needs to be replaced.
Replace the Cartridge and Clip
Slip the cartridge back in, making sure it is all the way in. Replace the clip that holds the cartridge in.
Replace the Sleeve and Faceplate
Replace the sleeve over the cartridge. Replace the screw, then the faceplate over the screw.
Check the Water
Turn the water back on to the shower. Test the water to see if the hot and cold are in the correct position. If they are not, it simply means the cartridge needs to be rotated. If so, follow the steps above to access the new cartridge.