SHOWER FAUCET REPAIR: Troubleshooting and Parts Replacement.
Most homes require shower faucet repair at one time or another. The extent of repairs depends on several factors, including the age and quality of the faucet in question, how often it’s used, the conditions of your house water and so on. If you haven’t had your faucets inspected or serviced within the last 5 years, it may be good idea to schedule a visit from a plumber. Having your faucets serviced on a regular basis is the key to extending their life and keeping repairs to a minimum.
If you’re currently having trouble with a tub or shower faucet, it may be possible to identify and even correct the problem yourself if you know what to look for. Below are some of the most common tub and shower issues homeowners run into. You should call a plumber for help if you notice any kind of leak or if you’re just not sure how to handle the situation. Mishandling even a minor plumbing problem could lead to extensive damage to your home and property.
Water dripping from the tub spout or shower head: this is probably the most common shower faucet problem homeowners run into. In most cases, water dripping from the either the tub spout or shower head indicates the need for a cartridge replacement.
Cartridges are located within the tub/shower valve (inside the shower wall). They regulate water flow and control water temperature. There are single handle, two-handle and three-handle valves. Each tub or shower handle requires its own unique cartridge. As the cartridges age and are constantly subject to pressurized water, mineral buildup and other factors, they begin to lose their ability to regulate water flow and will eventually fail to turn completely off.
Replacing shower cartridges is a relatively simple repair, but keep in mind that old cartridges can be difficult to remove – especially if they show any signs of corrosion or mineral buildup. If you have any trouble accessing or removing a shower cartridge, you should call a plumber for help. Here is a helpful guide to replacing shower cartridges.
Irregular water pressure or temperature: if your tub or shower is having a problem with water pressure or temperature, its most likely due to old, worn or damaged cartridges. In most cases, replacing your tub/shower cartridges should restore your water pressure and temperature control, but there could be other factors in play.
Abnormal water pressure could be a sign of an obstruction somewhere in the system (limescale buildup, sediment or some other kind of debris). If you have a recirculating pump installed on your water heater, it may be failing or require some kind of service. In either case, an experienced plumber should be able to determine the exact cause of the problem and provide a sufficient solution.
Shower diverter not working: whether you have a tub spout diverter (a liftable knob on your tub spout) or a turn-style diverter handle, the flow of water from your tub spout should be completely diverted to the shower head when activated. If water flow is not entirely diverted to the shower then your diverted isn’t working properly.
If you have a tub spout diverter, the spout itself will have to be replaced. This is a fairly simple task but you will need to have the right replacement spout and at least a basic set of hand tools. If you have handle-style diverter, you will need to replace the diverter cartridge to fix the problem. This may require a plumbers help, or at least some knowledge of cartridge replacement and the proper tools.
Hard to turn handles: handles that are difficult to turn or operate usually have a problem with limescale buildup. Areas known for having hard water – especially on or near the coast – will often have this issue. The easiest approach is to use a lime dissolving solvent (such as CLR) to clean up the affected components. Soaking the parts in vinegar overnight is also known to work.
Cartridge replacement may also be necessary – especially if a thorough cleaning doesn’t resolve the problem. In extreme cases, the affected tub or shower faucet may need to be replaced. A whole house water filter with ionizer technology can help prevent limescale buildup and protect your faucets and other plumbing components from future damage.
Missing or broken parts: if your tub or shower faucets have missing, broken or damaged parts, it is possible to have them completely restored. Many faucets (even older ones) have easy-to-find replacement parts. Major brands like Moen, Kohler and others carry replacement parts for nearly all their products and even offer free, lifetime parts replacement.
You should first contact the faucet manufacturer too see if replacement parts are available. If you’re not sure what parts you need, the manufacturer can usually help you identify them if you can at least describe the nature of the problem. Of course, a plumber experienced with faucet repair can identify the problem you’re having and help you order the right parts.
Sometimes, however, it’s not possible to track down the parts you need, or rebuilding your faucet may not be the best option. If this is the case, replacement of the whole trim set or possibly the tub/shower valve itself is the only option. Again, a plumber can help you decide which option best suits your needs.
Keep in mind that even though many shower faucet repairs may fall into the “do-it-yourself” category, it often takes at least some plumbing knowledge to get the job done right. It may also require special tools and materials, and the ability to quickly get yourself out of a jam if a problem arises. Before you begin, you should know where the nearest, properly working shut off valve is in case of an emergency, and you should never hesitate to call in a plumber for help if you run into something you’re not entirely sure of.