How to Install a New Shower Faucet Valve

A silver faucet with the words "shower" on it.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-50
What You'll Need
Flathead screwdriver
Old toothbrush

The shower faucet valve is typically located in the center. It is the knob that controls whether water comes out of the faucet for the tub or the shower head. You may be looking to replace the valve because it is leaky or damaged. Replacing the fixtures in your tub or shower will also give your bathroom a refreshed look for a low cost. The process is fairly simple and may be done without a plumber, which will save you money.

Your shower plumbing likely has three separate valves: hot water, cold water, and the shower faucet valve. Some new showers and tubs may have only one valve. If that is the case with your shower, you will need separate instructions in order to replace it correctly.

Be sure to take pictures of your current setup, or bring in the physical parts when purchasing the new parts to ensure they are compatible. This will make things easier down the line.

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Step 1 - Prepare the Area

Start by closing the drain to prevent any small parts from going missing. You will want to turn off both the hot and cold water to the shower as well. This can be done by turning the small screws on the pipes behind the fixtures with a flathead screwdriver. These may not be accessible initially. You may turn these off later if that is the case. Once you have done this, open the valves to allow water to drain. You are now ready to begin removing the old faucet.

Step 2 - Remove the Old Faucet

bathtub faucet

Most valves have some type of plastic or metal face plate in the center. Use something thin, flat, and sturdy—a screwdriver or knife will work—to pop this out. This will reveal a small screw. Remove this screw. Be sure to set these parts aside carefully.

Once the screw is removed, you should be able to easily remove the faucet to expose the cartridge. The escutcheon is the face plate that surrounds the valve. You can typically remove this simply by pulling it. If it is caulked to the wall, cut a line in the caulking with a knife or screwdriver to loosen it.

Step 3 - Remove the Cartridge

The cartridge looks like a small pipe that connects the valve to the plumbing. You will see it sticking out from the wall. It is usually held in place with a nut or a retainer clip. Remove this piece. To remove the cartridge, use a set of pliers to grasp the tip. Pull lightly and slowly. The cartridge should come out fairly easily.

You may be replacing your cartridge along with your faucet valve. If not, this is a great time to clean the cartridge and replace the O-ring to stop leaks. You can clean the cartridge with a rag or soft toothbrush. Your hardware store will supply new O-rings to form a good seal with the cartridge.

Step 4 - Install the New Faucet

hand on shower faucet

Follow the steps in reverse for installing the new faucet. Be sure to check the manuals that came with your hardware for specific instructions.

Step 5 - Test the Faucet

Test the faucet by turning on the hot water and cold water independently. Check for any leaks. Switch from tub to shower to ensure it is also working correctly.

Now you have a system without leaks and an updated style. If you are listing your house for sale, be sure to advertise the new shower faucet installation. To further increase value, select matching faucets for the sink, and repeat these steps.

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