Fixing a leaky shower!

10:09 AM

Update:  This past weekend I noticed that my kids shower was leaking.  This original post took me 2 hours over a couple of days to resolve.  Luckily I was able to refer back to my own blog and to fix the kids shower.

This time around I was able to fix the leak with only 1 trip to Lowes.  The entire repair took about 30 minutes (including shooing kids and dogs out of the bathroom so that I could work).

In honor of my latest triumph over another leaky faucet, here's a repost!
First it was the kitchen sink, then it was the shower!  That tap, tap, tap from the master bath just about drove me batty!  It was time, once again for a quicky DIY fix!

Fixing a leaky shower is simple in theory.  If you're working with newer parts the job is a breeze.  Unfortunately I had a bit of trouble, but everything worked out ok in the end.

I know from experience that a dripping shower head usually means that you need a new shower cartridge.  Calling a plumber to fix this problem costs about $250 in my area.  Buying a new cartridge from the hardware store costs about $40.  I enjoy saving money as much as I enjoy home repair so I chose to fix my own! 

We have a Delta Single Handle Shower (I don't know how old it is - it came with the house)

Here's what I did:

FIRST, TURN OFF THE WATER SUPPLY TO THE WHOLE HOUSE!  This step is an annoyance to people in the house, but it's necessary when fixing a shower leak.

Water Supply to House

Remove the decorative cover on the shower handle.

Remove decorative plate

Handle with plate removed

Now you'll need to find the screw that holds the shower handle in place.  This is the Delta 1300 series and the handle is held on by a tiny screw on the bottom of the handle.

Tiny screw hold on the back of shower handle

I need a hex key to remove this handle.  I happen to have a bunch.

Hex key (also called an Allen Key)

It took a few minutes to figure out which size I needed, but I finally found the right fit.

I needed this one

I should pause and say that this is where this project went off the rails for me.  Try as I might I COULD NOT get that tiny screw loose. 

I tried WD40, Liquid Wrench, vinegar, cussing and slamming things around and then I took a break from this project.

It was torture to feel like this tiny screw had gotten the best of me.  All the while tap, tap, tap the water was still leaking in the shower.

Cut to 1 week later, i'm back at it again.  I consulted the internet, Home Depot, Lowes and every Fix-It site I could find.  By now the screw was stripped.  The tool guy at Lowes sold me a screw extractor which seemed pretty promising!

Great tool for stripped screw heads

I'm sure i'll use this tool on another project, but sadly it was too big.

In the end I did was I was told not to do.  I broke the handle off!  Apparently breaking the handle off is a risky proposition.  You could just break off the handle or you could break something inside the wall.  I rolled the dice and got lucky.  The handle came off.

I finally just broke it off!

Now the job gets easy again.

Remove the ring that holds the shower cartridge in place.

Remove the metal ring that holds the cartridge in place

Pull out the old cartridge and insert the new one.  Make sure you follow the manufacturer directions on the cartridge.  Youll want to make sure that hot and cold are on the correct side.

New replacement cartridge

Slip in the new cartridge, reinstall the metal ring

Reinstall metal ring 

Reinstall the decorative wall plate and shower handle.

Reinstall decorative plate

I installed a new (easier to remove) handle but I forgot to take a picture.  This is what it looks like:

New shower handle

That's it's!  No more tap, tap, tap dripping shower faucet!  Hooray!!!!


This job turned out the be a matter of time vs. money.  Because the handle was stuck this job actually took a week to complete.  About 2 hours the first Ssaturday and about 50 minutes the second Saturday.  If everything had gone smoothly this job should have taken about 20 minutes. 

A good hardware store is worth it's weight in gold!  In my area Home Depot is close and convenient if you know what you're looking for.  Lowes is best if you have questions or need guidance.  KNOW YOUR HARDWARE STORES!

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