Over the holidays I was gifted by the joyous noise of screaming relatives trying to take a shower in the guest bathroom which had no hot water. It’s an issue that’s happened to Chuck and many others I know over the last few years, so, armed with the knowledge of friends that came before me, I headed to the local big box for a new shower faucet cartridge and an afternoon of fun-filled plumbing work.
So if you’d like to save yourself $250 for a house call from the local plumber, here’s what has to go down — and don’t panic; you don’t have to be a Mario Brother to do this repair job.
In many modern shower faucets like Delta and Moen (which is what I have) there is now a valve contained in a cartridge that regulates the flow of hot and cold water. This is great, except it tends to break down after a few years of being used sporadically. Personally I think Moen is screwing with us by getting an extra $38 from me every few years. In any case I found part number 1222, which was the correct cartridge for my faucet, and brought it back to the malfunctioning homestead.
The first thing you need to find/borrow/buy is a sewer or meter key/wrench. You can use other things like a screwdriver and pair of pliers but I like to keep the meter looking like I found it. If you don’t have one, $8 at the local big box will get you all hooked up. Look in the sprinkler system aisle.
Somewhere in your yard is going to be a cover that looks like this. Use the key end to hook the lid and pop it off.
Inside is your meter and shutoff valve. Shut the valve off by rotating it around so the arrow points away. If you’re confused on what’s on or off, the off position will most likely bring the rings on the valve together, which, once a lock is put through those rings, is how the water company shuts off a meter.
Next, go inside and test the water at the faucet. It should be off. Once you’re sure it’s off start on the faucet itself. Remove the knob or handle. It should come off with a screw either below the cap or on the underside of the handle.
Once that is off remove the jacket and plastic insert that covers the valve by pulling it straight off. It may take a little wiggling, but it comes off pretty easily.
There is a brass retaining clip that needs to be removed. It is located in the middle of the collar. Grab the tab with a pair of pliers and pull it free.
Be careful not to lose or mangle this clip — you’ll need it to complete the install of the new one. Don’t let it fall down the drain.
Moen graciously supplies you with a hub that locks into the old cartridge and allows you to rotate the cartridge in the collar and pop it loose.
Slide the hub into place and crank a quarter turn clockwise. It may take a few tries, but it does come loose.
Grab the nose of the cartridge with some pliers and pull it out.
Seat the new cartridge in the hole with no twisting and the HC located up top. Then reinsert the lock pin and reassemble the rest of the faucet and turn the water back on to test it.
If you do it right, the whole thing should take about 20 minutes and won’t make a mess at all. Regardless, $40 is better than the $250 a plumber will charge and you don’t have to make life hard on yourself or your guests with cold water showers. A win for all concerned.