How To Replace a Moen Shower Valve Cartridge

by Josh on February 25, 2009 · 138 comments

in Bathroom,Projects

A little while back, I was experiencing signs of a worn out valve in my main floor tub/shower.  The knob was getting  difficult to turn and soon I started noticing evidence of a small leak that was damaging the ceiling of the basement below the valve.

I opened up as much of the plumbing as I could get to through the access panels and confirmed that the valve, not the pipes were leaking.  It turns out that the Moen shower valve in the main floor bath uses an easily replacable cartridge insert.  In about an hour, including a trip to the neighborhood hardware store for a new cartridge and a new energy efficient water heater (old one was running poorly), my shower valve was repaired and working better than ever.

Here’s how it was done:

Shower faucet before & after

Start by turning off the water supply to the tub.  Pry the decorative cover from the end of the knob with a straight screwdriver, then unscrew the knob and remove it.  With the knob gone, it should now be possible to remove the large trim ring against the wall by pulling a couple more screws.

Exposed shower valve

Using a small pliars, pull out the small retaining clip protruding from a slot in the valve body near where the knob attaches.  (As an aside, check out the weird blue fiberboard on the back side of the wall.  It was soaking up the leaking water like a sponge.  I don’t believe this is a code-compliant building material for a wet area…)

Handle temporarily reattached

Once the clip is removed, reattach the knob and pull straight out until you have removed the valve cartridge.

Old Moen cartridge removed

Then remove the knob from the old cartridge, attach the knob to the new cartridge, and reverse the removal steps to finish the installation.

Moen cartridge old and new

Before reinstalling the trim ring, I replaced the gasket around the edge because the old one was worn out.  Adhesive foam weatherstripping was just the right thing for the job.

Shower faucet trim

Finished:

Shower faucet before & after

With the new cartridge, the tub and shower valve work like new.  I finished this repair six months ago and I’ve had no evidence of leaks or trouble throughout that time.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

alan herell - the head lemur February 26, 2009 at 10:19 am

Great Tutorial. Keep them coming.

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Sandy March 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm

You always make everything look SO easy! Sigh.

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Josh March 2, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Thanks to you both. It really was an easy repair, though I got a bit of confidence from the knowledge that if I happened to screw things up somehow, I still had a working shower in the master bath.

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danny O March 8, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Hello, I am trying to replace the cartridge in my shower and I can not get it out. It’s old (19 years) so should I lubricate it with something to help get it out. I just have to stop the leaking. Danny O

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Josh March 15, 2009 at 11:12 pm

It’s hard for me to know exactly what you’re dealing with, Danny. On my valve, there is a small brass retaining clip that holds the cartridge in the valve body. Make sure you thoroughly check for any retention devices like that or you won’t be able to remove the cartridge. If you’ve done that and the cartridge still won’t come out, applying some penetrating oil to try loosening it shouldn’t hurt anything.

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Bill Roach April 2, 2009 at 2:57 pm

When I get the flange and the rest of the knos off, I see a white plastic peice in side the ears so to speak. It seems to be stopping me from pulling out the cartridge. How do I get the whit plastic peice out. ?

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Josh April 2, 2009 at 5:30 pm

@Bill- My valve didn’t have a plastic piece like you are describing and I don’t have experience with other Moen valves, so I can’t say for sure how to handle your situation.

I’d suggest you gather as much information about the fixture as you can and talk with someone at a local hardware store that sells the replacement cartridges. Good luck!

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BIll Roach April 2, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Thanks Josh

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BIll Roach April 2, 2009 at 8:12 pm

Josh
Would this white plastic peice that I was talking about be part of the cartridge ? It fits right in between the ears so to speak.

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Josh April 2, 2009 at 10:53 pm

I’m totally guessing here, Bill. As I said, I don’t know the fixture and cartridge you’re describing. However, I think I have seen other kinds of plumbing cartridges with plastic tops that fit into a slot (or between “ears”) in the fixture to ensure that the cartridge is seated properly. But that doesn’t tell you anything about getting the cartridge out…

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sue April 6, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Bill, I had the same kind of cartridge & it was stuck (I guess from the hard water). Ace Hardware carries a cartridge puller that they let me rent for a couple hours & that gets it out. I also heard you can acquire the tool from Home Depot.

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BIll Roach April 7, 2009 at 11:05 am

I finally got my cartridge replaced in the shower valve. The white ears that I talked about was part of the cartridge. I bought a puller at Lowes and it worked great. Now I am in a pickle as to putting back the trim. I am lost as to how it goes back. I have the chrome tube that fits over the faucet stem, and a short plastic peice that fits on the stem, and now I have two plastic peices that goes somehow on the chrome tube, and then the handle. Can you explain to me as to what order they go on. If not, where could I get a plan or print to show me the order of how they go back on

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Josh April 10, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Glad you got your valve cartridge replaced, Bill– congratulations! I can’t personally help you with your reassembly challenge, though I found a link to download Moen installation instructions and exploded view assembly diagrams. You’ll need your model number, so find that then check here: Moen Spec/Parts Search

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lou June 1, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Moen lists exploded views of all fixtures at moen.com, showing retaining clips, etc.

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Wing June 6, 2009 at 6:52 pm

How can I locate the model number from the existing Moen shower/tub faucet ? Thanks for your help.

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Graham Quigley June 11, 2009 at 11:52 pm

Very helpful. Thanks for your service : )

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Josh June 18, 2009 at 1:12 am

@Lou- Thanks for the tip!

@Wing- I can’t suggest any ideas for identifying your faucet model number other than to try to examine the faucet body as closely as possible and, failing that, to try to visually match your faucet to pictures on the manufacturer’s website.

@Graham- You’re welcome. Happy to help!

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Alan July 3, 2009 at 10:17 am

Your instructions worked like a charm.

Thanks

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tom July 31, 2009 at 12:12 pm

After reading all of the horror stories about the failure to remove the cartridge, I was pleasantly surprised to have it come loose with only one tug of the old knob.. I installed this unit thirty years ago and just started having problems with the turning of cold to hot…

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joel Anyim August 12, 2009 at 1:55 pm

I have a hard time pulling out the faucet knob. Its so hard my 12 year old grand son cannot pull it out to take a shower. Is this evidence something is wrong with the faucet. I have been in the house 18 months and it looked new when I moved iin although it is always hard to pull out. Is there a way to fee it up. At the local hardware store they suggested it might be the cartridge. Are they right?

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Josh August 12, 2009 at 2:31 pm

@Alan & @Tom- I’m glad the repairs worked out for you.

@Joel- I can’t say for certain what the problem is with your stubborn faucet. However your symptom of a difficult to pull/turn faucet knob matches the problem I had, and in my case replacing the valve cartridge corrected the problem. It sounds like the guy at your local hardware store also recommends replacing the cartridge. I’d go back to the hardware store and ask that clerk help you find the right cartridge for your faucet.

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ed August 29, 2009 at 11:11 pm

I’m replacing a moen cartridge now & when i turn the water back on, it drips……do you think the cartridge isn’t in far enough? does the clip go aroung the cartridge body or the ears……I’m on my 4th clip, they are cheap

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Bob September 9, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I also am having trouble removing my Moen cartridge from the valve (it’s somewhat restricted in flow from sediment blown from an old water heater). The assembly is only a few years old. I removed the clip with the trim ring still in place; screwed in or not, there is resistance to my pulling out the cartridge, even with the $12.95 tool I got from Ace. Pulling on the cartridge pulls out the outer valve casing as well as the faucet below. Any chance there is another retaining ring behind the trim ring? It’s a single handled Moen with a cold-to-hot counterclockwise turn.

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Josh September 18, 2009 at 10:16 am

@ed- On my faucet, the retaining clip couldn’t be installed until the cartridge was seated at the proper position. It fit into a slot in the valve body and then inside the ears on the end of the cartridge.

@Bob- Yes, there is probably a retaining clip behind the trim ring. I couldn’t access the retaining clip on my faucet until I had removed the trim ring. Good luck!

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Lisa Everts September 19, 2009 at 11:12 am

Thank you! Your explanation gave me the confidence to fix
my faucet and it took me about 10 minutes! I was really afraid to do it but it was a piece of cake.

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Josh September 19, 2009 at 11:38 am

That makes my day, Lisa! Glad it worked out for you.

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Ed October 17, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Thanks for the info. Gave me the confidence to give it a shot. I too ran into the problem of not being able to pull out the old cartridge after I removed the retaining clip. It turned just fine with the tool but wouldn’t come out. Put some grease on the edges and just kept turning it and finally it came out.

Thanks again for the info.

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Josh October 20, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Good for you, Ed. Congratulations!

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chuck November 4, 2009 at 7:35 pm

moen sinlge handle shower valve…new house that has never been lived in (except for the past month or so) guest shower will not allow hot water? removed trim ring to find 2 stop valves (1-hot & 1-cold)have turned hot stop valve in all directions and have no water flow at all. discovered this problem last weekend when we had our first house guest (so embarrassing) when she first let me know there was no hot water in shower it trickled hot water, but now not even a drop. also have tried to remove cartridge for inspection but it seems to be VERY stuck. looks like only thing holding it in was retaining clip that i removed but starting to mess up end from pulling on it with plyers. ANY HELP WOULD BE APPRECIATED!!!

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Josh November 4, 2009 at 11:40 pm

That’s a tough one, Chuck. On a new house with what I assume is a new shower valve, I wouldn’t think the cartridge is to blame. If you are bending parts with a pliers trying to disassemble the valve, you must have missed a step somehow, because there shouldn’t be any mineral build-up, corrosion, or anything to make disassembly difficult.

As for the lack of hot water for the shower, my best guess is a closed valve. If you’ve found and tried shut-off valves right in the shower area, try tracking the pipe further upline looking for a culprit closed valve.

Good luck– let me know how it turns out!

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GadgetGuy3 November 28, 2009 at 11:22 am

Thanks. Everything works perfectly now.

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Josh December 4, 2009 at 10:08 am

Glad to hear it, GadgetGuy3.

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Harry December 18, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Is it possible to change a Moen shower valve from a twist-to-turn-on to a pull-to-turn-on just by changing the cartridge?

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Kati December 18, 2009 at 6:50 pm

I have a 30+ year old Moen single faucet in the shower and i have used the tool to get out the old core piece but am having alot of trouble getting the casing out. I have tried wd 40 and calcium and rust remover with no luck. The tool is actually stuck in the cartridge casing inside the wall and WILL NOT come out! Any ideas? Do they all have a casing that has to come out?

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ed December 19, 2009 at 6:31 pm

Have a 30yr old Moen shower valve, screws at 5@7, which I relaced the cartridge to 7 or 8 yrs ago (leak). Now due to sudden jolts of temperature change I replaced that cartridge. Beings this didn’t correct the problem do I need a new valve, or did I just get a faulty cartridge.
(The replaced cartridge didn’t seem to have any flaws)

Thank You
Ed

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Josh December 21, 2009 at 12:19 pm

@Harry- I think you will need a new faucet to change from twist to pull operation.

@Kati- I’m not sure I know what you are referring to as the cartridge casing. On my faucet, the only thing I needed to replace was the cartridge– a cylinder of machined brass fitted with rubber gaskets and a handle attachment. Are you sure yours is a cartridge-style faucet?

@Ed- Do I understand correctly that a new cartridge to replace the 7-8 year old replacement cartridge in your faucet did not correct the problem? If that’s right, then check to see if you have the correct replacement cartridge and verify that you didn’t get a defective part. After that, I’d suspect a problem with the faucet body or supply lines. This is the only faucet that has this temperature change issue, right?

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Kristen December 30, 2009 at 2:16 pm

We just replaced the cartridge on our Moen shower faucet because we were getting cold water, but not hot. Now we have hot again, but the water won’t turn off entirely. What happened? The retainer clip went back in just fine, everything looks good, there aren’t any visible leaks around the cartridge, but it won’t shut off completely.

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Nancy December 30, 2009 at 5:08 pm

I wish I had found this website six months ago. I had a leaking Moen faucet in my daughter’s bathroon. It was dripping and I didn’t notice it. Called a plumber because I didn’t know what to do. The guy replaced the cartridge after showing me his book that showed all of the stuff he would have to do would cost me $300+. Now my faucet in the shower in the master bathroom is not shutting off completely. I decided to double check and found your website. I will be heading over to the hardware store shortly to purchase the cartridge and replace it.

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jim walker December 30, 2009 at 5:44 pm

I’d like to replace my Moen shower valve without tearing the wall apart (cannot replace tile and it is on an exterior wall). Can I do this?

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Kristen December 31, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Update: What ended up happening in our situation with the water not shutting off was that the guy at the store who’d given us the new cartridge had given us an off brand cartridge and it didn’t fit right. When we went back to the store and got the Moen cartridge it fit right in and worked perfectly. No leaks, and we have hot water again. Yay!

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Josh January 8, 2010 at 9:32 am

@Kristin- Congratulations on your successful troubleshooting! Thanks for letting us know how it turned out for you.

@Jim- To change the faucet you’ll need the wall opening to at least be big enough for the faucet body to fit through. This may require *carefully* enlarging the opening that is there now. You should be able to find new faucets available with oversized trim rings that will cover the enlarged wall opening. The smartest thing to do would be to research and select your replacement faucet first, then use the new trim ring as a guide to ensure you don’t oversize the wall opening when removing your old faucet.

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ed January 9, 2010 at 9:48 pm

U understand right Josh, I relaced the first cartridge (leak)7 or 8 yrs ago. Then a few months ago started getting the temperture jolts. I live in a condo so when I saw a plumber’s truck working in the water heater shed I asked him if what he was doing would correct my problem.
He said no, that if that was so there would be other complaints. Because He was on location,and already had all water shut off he would replace the cartridge for $60. Knowing the problem they can be I jumped at that offer. No bill of sale naturally. I still have same problem. The cartridge I put in and his replacement looked identical. Living in a condo I’m almost tempted to replace with a better valve. Cutting an access door and concealing same is not a problem. The problem is not wanting to replace the cartridge again in vain. But it would sure be easier.

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Mike January 19, 2010 at 2:47 pm

The repair turned out to be easier than I expected. I was able to get the stuck old cartridge out by replacing the handle and gently prying it out with a claw hammer. Moen warrants the cartridges for life and sent me one free. Call the number on the web site http://www.moen.com. To minimize confusion, Moen advises that there are only two types of cartridges. One for valves that push-pull on-off, and another for valves that rotate on-off. You can see exploded views on the web site.

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Josh January 21, 2010 at 11:19 am

Thanks for the great comment, Mike. I’m sure other readers will find that cartridge information valuable and I’m glad your repair went well.

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phyllis January 23, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Initial Problem was lack of pressure on cold water side. Removed cartridge, but can’t find exact match on computer. It is a moen rotation handle. The 1222B looks similar, however it is missing the 0-ring on the bottom, and the openings on the sides are in different spots. This shower is in a 2001 motorhome. Can you help me.

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Josh January 24, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Phyllis, have you tried contacting Moen directly for the correct part and replacement source? Part failure after only nine years in something as infrequently used as an RV suggests a manufacturer defect or warranty issue.

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ian February 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I replaced the moen cartridge and eveything went perfectly ok. However my wife thikd that the shower isn’t as hot as it was before. Is there a temperature adjustment that I might have screwed up removing the old cartridge?

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Ken Cooper March 2, 2010 at 1:37 am

I was having trouble removing cartridge from center shower vale and thanks to your simple idea to screw the handle back on and use it to pull{instead of pliers},I quickly finished replaclng it.

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Traci L April 9, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!! I was able to fix my leaking shower myself. My cartridge was different-part plastic, part brass, but thankfully I had bought both so now all I have to do is take the all brass one back! Great tutorial, love that you have photos as well as verbal instructions!

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