How to Repair a Pull-Out Shower Handle

Hand on pull-out shower handle

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 2 hrs

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.

Safety Considerations

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.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers

Materials

  • WD-40
  • Replacement cartridge
  • 1 tube silicone plumber's grease

Instructions

Materials and tool to repair a pull-out shower handle

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  1. 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).

    Shower handle unscrewed from wall with scredriver

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  2. 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.

    Metal sleeve removed from cartridge

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  3. 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.

    Needle-nose pliers lifting to remove clip from cartridge

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  4. 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.

    Warning

    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.

    Cartridge removed with pliers

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  5. 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.

    Tip

    Use waterproof, heatproof silicone plumber's grease for this operation, and not a petroleum-based product, such as Vaseline. Petroleum greases will eventually cause rubber O-rings and seals to decay.

    Silicone plumber's grease added to new cartridge

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  6. 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.

    New cartridge pushed back into place

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  7. Replace the Sleeve and Faceplate

    Replace the sleeve over the cartridge. Replace the screw, then the faceplate over the screw.

    Metal sleeve pushed over new cartridge

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

  8. 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.

    Pull-out shower handle pulled out to test water from shower

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris