How to replace a shower valve in 11 steps



Be it cold water or hot water, showers are therapeutic and can help you destress after a hectic day. However, it can be a real bummer when a faulty shower valve ruins your showering experience. 

A faulty shower valve left unattended can hamper your showering experience and affect your entire home’s plumbing system. 

It’s also good practice to change the shower valves if you’re updating bathroom appliances during DIY home improvement or renovations to prevent any issues in the future. 

Let’s walk through the step-by-step process to replace your old valve safely and promptly.


What to know before replacing a shower valve

Before getting into tips for replacement, let’s look at a few reasons your shower valve may be faulty: 

  • Damaged, worn out or constant leakage in the valve (which can cause mold growth behind the walls)
  • Reaction time delay after you change the water temperature from cold to hot or vice versa
  • Fluctuations in water pressure when other bathroom appliances (like a tap or flush) are turned on
  • Lime and dirt buildup

Let’s review a few things to consider before replacing your shower valve:

  • Take note of the type of shower valve cartridge needed and purchase it.
  • Turn off the main water supply, especially when the valve is leaky. Until then, use Teflon tape to combat the leak.
  • Keep screws in a container after unscrewing the components.


How to replace a shower valve

Faulty shower valves need replacement when the damage is irreparable. It’s not as easy as changing a shower head, but the right guidance (and some patience) can help you replace the shower valve whether it has a single-handle or double-handle faucet. 

Here are 11 steps to repair your faulty valve with a new shower valve. 

1. Gather the right tools

Ensure you have the right tools and supplies handy before replacing your shower valve, most of which are easily available in home improvement stores. Here’s a list of tools you might need:

  • Dropcloth
  • Screwdriver set
  • Standard pliers
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Angle grinder
  • Hacksaw
  • Shower valve
  • Retainer clip
  • Caulk
  • WD-40
  • Paper towels 
  • Stop plug
  • Teflon tape

2. Cover the shower drain

Use a stop plug or cloth to conceal the shower drain or tub before dismantling your shower faucets to change a shower valve. This step can prevent screws or other small parts from falling down the drain. 

3. Take off the shower handle

A shower handle attaches to the shower wall with screws. Use a flathead screwdriver to pop out the screws. Keep them on a safe surface or in a container so you can easily find them later. 

Now twist and turn the handle so it can safely come off the stem. 

4. Unscrew and clean the trim plate

A trim plate (also called an Escutcheon plate) covers the hole on the wall. Use your screwdriver to unscrew both sides of the plate and lift it off the wall. Preserve the screws safely, as you will need them later. 

Now use vinegar or CLR (an acid-based cleaner) to soak your trim plate and clear out any gunk or grime. This step helps your trim plate look new again. 

5. Shut off the water

Turn off the water supply to prevent leaks by turning your shower’s water-flow stops clockwise (applies for both hot and cold water-flow stops). You may have to use a screwdriver if that’s how they turn on and off. 

Don’t worry if you can’t locate the water stops; you can simply turn off the water supply to the entire house instead. 

6. Cut an access hole to better reach the valve

You will see a hole in the wall once the trim plate is off. Use a tape measure to check whether the opening is at least 30 centimeters. If not, you might have to expand the hole to the requisite size. 

It is best to seek the help of a professional plumber if the wall is a super-rigid material. 

7. Remove the retainer clip

A metal clip (also called a retainer clip) holds up the shower valve. Lift the metal clip and set it aside safely. You can reuse it if it’s not faulty or worn out. Otherwise, use the new metal clip that comes with your cartridge. Retainer nuts hold certain valves — use an Allen wrench to unscrew those. 

8. Pull out the shower valve cartridge

Use needlenose pliers to firmly grab the end of the old metal valve cartridge and pull it out of the wall. Twist and turn it in all directions if it’s stuck. You can also spray WD-40 to ensure it comes out easily. Then discard it. 

9. Install the new shower valve

Meticulously grab the end of the fresh valve cartridge (which should be similar to the previous one) with pliers and glide it back into the slot on the wall. Twist the cartridge in all directions to see if it gets stuck at any point. 

If the new cartridge does not fit into the wall, you likely bought the wrong size. Recheck the valve size to confirm whether it is identical to the old cartridge. 

If you spot any oxidation or corrosion as you change the shower valve, you may have to replace the entire shower valve assembly. It is advisable to seek professional help in this case. 

10. Turn the water back on and test for leaks

Use needlenose pliers to insert the new valve’s metal clip and fit it in the exact spot as the old valve’s metal clip. Insert it from the top. 

If you constricted the water stops, unfasten them by twisting to the right. Additionally, if you turned off the water supply to the entire house, turn that back on. Complete this process slowly because water might explode if any part was not installed accurately. 

Additionally, check that the shower valve diverter is working.

11. Put the trim plate and handle back in place

Put the trim plate and handle back in place once you’ve checked your new shower valve for any potential leaks. Here’s how to do that:

  • Take the trim plate and safely set it over the access hole. Now use your screwdriver to screw it on both sides tightly.
  • Apply a fresh layer of caulk around the sides of the trim plate. (This is mandatory if there was a layer before.)
  • Reinsert your shower handle with screws and turn it on to check if it functions properly. 

If you expanded the wall opening during the shower valve replacement, you are good to go as long as the opening isn’t as big as the trim plate. If needed, fill the hole to make it smaller than the trim plate. 

If you plan to change the bathtub or shower faucet for a new one, Moen has a great variety to explore.

Depending on the issue, you may have to solder the shower valve to the pipe. It is best to seek the help of a professional plumber in this case.


Avoid expensive bathroom repairs with a home protection plan from Cinch

Faulty shower valves can be a huge deterrent in your showering experience. An out-of-order shower valve needs a quick fix because it could affect all of your bathroom appliances and lead to bigger concerns. 

As a homeowner, critical home appliances need the right maintenance and protection — you never know when a small issue may end up troubling you. Fret no more! The Cinch Home Services Appliances plan helps you cover the cost of major appliance repairs, including your shower valves. 

Cinch covers most of your essential bathroom appliances and systems, including toilets, bathtubs, water heaters and plumbing. Learn more about how Cinch can help keep your major appliances in good shape and save costs associated with surprise breakdowns.

Reach out to get a quote today!


Are you having issues with your shower valve? Here is a step-by-step process to replace a shower valve quickly.