A leaky faucet in your shower or bathroom is not only irritating, but is also costly. As you can see, beyond the annoying drips that the damaged faucet makes, it will cost you more money on your water bill from wasting hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water in certain period of time. This problem is even worse considering the hot water side of your shower valve, where you will be wasting significant energy because the heater would need to continuously operate to be able to keep the water that is being drawn warm.
In fact, some homeowners whose houses are installed with electric water heaters complained that their electric bills have doubled and even tripled due to leaking shower valves. And if your concern is a shower valve leaking inside the wall, it can eventually lead to structural problems, such as mold and dry rot, which are not only hazardous but also very expensive to repair. Fortunately, you do not have to spend more money on hiring professionals to get the problem fixed. But before we go there, let us first know what causes a shower faucet to leak.
What Causes a Leaky Shower Faucet?
When you see water dripping from your shower head, then it indicates a problem with the faucet or valve. Usually, this is caused by worn inner seals or clogged or corroded parts due to hard water deposits. Also, the rubber gaskets and O-rings, which seal the connections between the moving parts, have probably worn down due to long period of use. When this happens, water will drip from your shower head.
Now, with the necessary tools and materials—cartridge, gasket, pliers or wrench, pocket knife, screwdriver, handle puller and cartridge puller—ready, you can now following these simple steps of fixing a dripping shower faucet on your own:
Fixing the Shower Faucet
1. Turn off the water supply to your shower, which you can find inside your bathroom or basement. If you cannot find it in these places, you can instead turn off the main water supply, which should be located outside of the front of your house. After turning it off, try to turn your shower on to confirm that there is no water coming out from it.
2. Using a pair of pliers or a wrench, remove the shower faucet. Then, allow any remaining water of the faucet to drain out.
3. Remove the old rubber gasket, which is located inside the faucet, and replace it with a new one, which you can purchase at a home improvement or hardware store near you. Make sure that it properly fits by checking that it does not move while inside the faucet.
4. After replacing the gasket, you can now re-attach the faucet, using the pliers or wrench to fasten it back to its original position.
5. Turn the water supply back on and check if the shower faucet no longer has a leak.
Fixing the Faucet Handle
A handle that does not properly turn off can also cause a dripping shower faucet. If this is your case, then take the following steps:
1. See to it that you have turned off the faucet handle as far as it can go, and if water drips, the handle is most probably the problem.
2. Turn off the water supply to your shower, which you can find inside your bathroom or basement. If you cannot find it in these places, you can instead turn off the main water supply, which should be located outside of the front of your house. After turning it off, try to turn your shower on to confirm that there is no water coming out from it.
3. To remove the faucet handle, pry off its cap with the use of a screwdriver or a pocketknife to expose the internal handle screw. Unscrew the screw that you will find inside, and using the handle puller, remove the handle by pulling it straight up.
4. Remove the cartridge, which is the large ring that is adjacent to the wall. This part will be exposed after removing the handle. To properly get the job done, use a cartridge puller.
5. After removing the old cartridge, install the new one by screwing it on the same place you removed the old one.
6. Make sure that the handle is turned off and then turn the water supply back on. If the faucet is no longer dripping, then you have fixed the problem.
More Useful Tips
When you turn your shower faucet off, yet the water keeps dripping from the shower head, naturally you would crank the handle closed as hard as you can, but this will only make the problem worse. It is enough to turn the handle all of the way off, but over-tightening it will damage the valve.
When working on your shower faucet, place some rags on the shower floor or in the tub beneath the faucets to prevent small parts from being dropped down the drain and to protect the surfaces. Before opening a shower valve during the project, always make sure that the water supply is turned off. If you have cut off the main water supply to your house, organize and plan your project accordingly. Also, make sure that that you already have the necessary tools and materials on hand to minimize the time that you will have to turn off your water supply.
Take note that there is a variety of shower faucets and valves, and the method of fixing each of them will depend on the type. When it comes to purchasing tools, the one that is tricky to choose is the cartridge puller, where you should be certain what will work with your brand of faucet. If you are not sure on what brand to get, it is best to take your old cartridge to the home improvement or hardware store with you to how it to a personnel who know the best replacement for it.