How to Replace a Leaky Shower Valve Cartridge

The shower head developed a persistent leak that was growing worse as if the shower handle wouldn’t completely shutoff. The leak wastes water and kept the shower stall wet promoting mold and mildew growth. I traced the problem to a worn out shower valve cartridge that was 12 years old and leaking. Replacing the shower valve cartridge cost less than $40 for parts and fixed the leak.

Shower Leak Repairs

My home was built in 2002. In the 7+ years I’ve owned the home I’ve installed a basement bathroom and repaired shower leaks in two bathrooms – a shower leak behind the wall and a leaky shower drain. The leaky shower valve cartridge was a new problem; at least it didn’t damage the drywall ceiling.

This repair project is a 4-part series:

The end of each article will lead you to next part in the series.

Leaky Shower Head

I have a His & Hers shower in the master bathroom with two independent shower controls and shower heads. Out of habit we always use the one shower on the left side – which as I discovered caused the shower cartridge to wear out and leak. The shower head holds a small amount of water and will drip for a short time after shower is turned off – which is normal. The problem is the shower head was dripping all the time and getting worse by the day. It doesn’t take long for a leak to waste hundreds or thousands of gallons of water resulting in a expensive water bill.

Shower Head Leak Cause by Bad Shower Valve Cartridge

Shower Head Leak Cause by Bad Shower Valve Cartridge

The shower valve escutcheon behind the handle had the DELTA logo which indicates it was manufactured by Delta Faucet Company. Because I didn’t have anything about the shower in my homeowner’s documents I had to look through Delta’s online catalog to identify my shower valve. Matching the pattern on the escutcheon and shower handle trim, I determined my shower is a discontinued Delta Monitor® Classic 1300/1400 series which is similar to the current Monitor® 13 Series Shower.

Master Bathroom Shower

Master Bathroom Shower

Order a Replacement Delta Shower Valve Cartridge

You can find replacement parts, diagrams and instructions at Delta’s Customer Support site then buy it at at a lower price.

The Delta Customer Support website lists two different shower valve cartridges for the discontinued Delta Classic Monitor 1300/1400 and newer Delta 13 Series showers per the diagram on page 10 of the Delta shower valve installation instructions:

DELTA MultiChoice 13-14 and Monitor 1300-1400 Series Cartridge Reference Sheet RP19804 RP46074 - Copyright Delta Faucet, Inc.

DELTA MultiChoice 13-14 and Monitor 1300-1400 Series Cartridge Reference Sheet RP19804 RP46074 – Copyright Delta Faucet, Inc.

I was confident my shower required the Delta shower cartridge model # RP19804 because the house was built in 2000. I ordered both the RP46074 and RP19804 cartridges because replacing the cartridge requires turning off the house main water supply and I didn’t want be without the right part.

Here’s the new Delta RP19804 with my old leaky shower cartridge and the RP46074. Obviously the RP46074 part doesn’t fit my Monitor 1300/1400 series shower valve because the lower housing water inlets are longer and more narrowly spaced:

DELTA Shower Valve Cartridge Replacement Part # RP19804

DELTA Shower Valve Cartridge Replacement Part # RP19804

Delta Faucet has an excellent shower cartridge replacement video:

How to Replace a Leaky Shower Valve Cartridge

Shutoff the Main Water Supply

The main water supply to the house must be shutoff before replacing the shower valve cartridge.

I installed hot and cold water supply shutoff valves when I built the basement bathroom shower which avoids this hassle. Unfortunately the home builder didn’t install shutoff valves for the master bathroom shower.

I have the option of turning off the water supply at the city water meter by the street or the secondary valve inside the basement. I chose to turn off the water at the basement secondary valve:

House Water Supply Shutoff Valve

House Water Supply Shutoff Valve

The water must be drained from the pipes inside the house. My house has two floors so I went upstairs and opened the bathroom faucets and shower valves to drain the water through the lower level fixtures. I also did the same for the kitchen sink and bathrooms on the main floor followed by the basement bathroom which is at the lowest level in the house. The pipes emptied in a couple of minutes. Leave the faucets open while replacing the shower cartridge to allow any residual water to drain.

Remove the Shower Valve Handle

The shower handle is held onto the shower valve stem by a set screw. I removed it with a 1/8 inch Allen wrench:

Remove the Shower Handle Set Screw

Remove the Shower Handle Set Screw

The set screw and shower handle was a little difficult to remove due to the years of soap scum and calcium build-up:

Remove the Shower Valve Handle

Remove the Shower Valve Handle

Remove the Shower Valve Escutcheon

The escutcheon is fastened with two long screws – just remove the screws to take off trim plate. Notice the word “Monitor” embossed on the escutcheon which helped me identify the shower valve as a Delta Monitor 1300/1400 series:

Shower Valve Escutcheon Removal - Long Screws

Shower Valve Escutcheon Removal – Long Screws

The shower valve escutcheon and two long screws. The bottom of the plate is towards to the top of the photo with the small V notch in the rim for drainage:

Remove the Shower Valve Escutcheon

Remove the Shower Valve Escutcheon

The shower valve cartridge is removed in How to Remove a Leaky Shower Valve Cartridge.

Take care,

Bob Jackson


Copyright © 2016   Reproduction strictly prohibited.

, , ,

35 Responses to How to Replace a Leaky Shower Valve Cartridge

  1. AJ Buras June 17, 2015 at 3:23 pm #

    Purchased A New Delta Cartridge..Problem is it doesn’t fit flush as the one in the video does therefore still have a small drip after the new one was installed..Any Ideas?..Desperate!..Thanks

    • Bob Jackson June 18, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

      So you have a gap between the shower valve cartridge and the brass shower valve body similar to this photo? As explained in How to Install a Shower Valve Cartridge tightening the bonnet nut should full seat the cartridge and compress the main O-ring.

      Mineral deposits and scale inside the brass valve body may be preventing the lower cartridge and two small O-rings from seating properly. Try polishing the inside of the shower valve body with a brass wire brush on a Dremel rotary tool. Only use a soft brass brush so as not to scratch the valve body. Also see this comment and this one too for more info. on similar leak problems.

  2. Doug July 21, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    I also have a leak with same type of cartridge. Home built about 1998. I replaced the spring and seal in the cartridge after talking to expert at Home Depot. Fit perfelectly. Leak still persists and I’m baffled. Not sure what to do. RP19804 cartridge lower/shorter housing seems to be an exact fit, but the part that attaches to know is not an exact fit.

    Options or ideas? I am willing to pay for new more attractive hardware but would not want to replace the breass valve in the wall. Thanks for any advice.

    • Bob Jackson July 21, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

      Can you not replace the entire cartridge? Is the RP19804 an exact fit for your old unit?

  3. Steve September 11, 2015 at 2:53 am #

    I bought the RP19804, but it is just a little to long and will not seat fully so that the notches will engage on the outer ring and brass. Like a millimeter to long. What to do?

  4. Rod November 5, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

    Thanks. Works!!

  5. Lauree November 8, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    We have replaced the cartridge, but now, for some reason, the handle will not go back on…..the nut passes right through the hole without attaching itself to the cartridge stem! We have figured out that the problem is that the sleeve is not going back into the wall as far as it did originally. What could be the problem? The cartridge is appropriately seated into the notches, etc., so it is definitely that the sleeve is not going in far enough…….we did take the 2-screw escutheon off and had a problem getting the screws to go back in, but finally managed it. Can you tell us what to do to get the cartridge sleeve to slip back further (about 1/4 inch) so that we can re-attach the handle?

    • Bob Jackson November 8, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

      Remove the sleeve and sleeve o-ring. Slide on the sleeve without the o-ring.

      Will the handle fit now? If so, I think the o-ring was stuck on the end of the sleeve preventing it from going in all the way instead of rolling up inside it. Remove the sleeve and set the o-ring about 1 inch down the valve body then put on the sleeve ensuring the o-ring is inside the sleeve.

      If the handle still doesn’t fit then the bonnet nut needs to be tightened a bit because the neck of the sleeve is bottoming out prematurely on the nut. If you look at the valve body threads it may be possible to tell where the bonnet nut had previously been threaded to by the oxidation and dirt ring. Take care not to over tighten the bonnet nut. I’d remove the shower cartridge and thread on the bonnet by hand just to make sure the threads aren’t jammed after a certain point.

      • Lauree November 9, 2015 at 10:39 am #

        Thanks for the info…… soon as my husband returns from an errand, we will turn off the water, remove the bonnet nut to check the 0-ring……..and try what you suggest as to setting the o-ring 1 inch down the valve body. Hopefully, that will take care of i. I will let you know if your suggestion resolves the problem…….this has been so frustrating!!

      • Lauree November 9, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

        Well, I was able to “dig out” the O-ring that had been pushed quite a bit back into the opening behind the Delta Monitor face plate (escutcheon). I used a flat head screw driver to dig it out……..I then tried slipping on the cartridge sleeve WITHOUT THE 0-RNG but it still was being stopped approximately 1/4 inch from where it needs to go……….so, we are back to square one. Our next step is to take off the face plate (escutcheon) in an attempt to see what might be getting in the way of the sleeve sliding properly into place. We hesitated doing this because we took it off when we first began all of this and had a very difficult time getting back on because one of the screws would not line up properly in order to for the screw to make contact and be firmly screwed into place……it was like there was nothing there to screw into…..after quite a while we managed to get the plate back up. Per your other suggestion, The Bonnet Nut was firmly in place and was as tight as I could get it, so that isn’t the problem. I am assuming that we have no choice left but to remove the face plate again and look to see if there is something that is blocking the cartridge sleeve from slipping all the way into place……..anything else you can think of would be appreciate. This just shouldn’t be this hard to do!

        • Bob Jackson November 9, 2015 at 8:18 pm #

          > This just shouldn’t be this hard to do!
          Yeah – the sleeve is a simple part and it should be apparent what’s blocking it. I had to pull the sleeve forward so it tucked inside the shower handle to cover the gap.

          Does your sleeve fit inside the shower handle?

          • Lauree November 10, 2015 at 11:43 am #

            Problem finally solved……it was the black plastic form in the wall (that plumbers use as a spacer when plumbing a house before drywall is up)… was not in line with the hole from which the brass housing came out, therefore the sleeve was hitting a side of the plastic by just a fraction thus not allowing the sleeve to slip all the way in! The actual job of changing out the cartridge was SIMPLE…and so appreciate your tutorials about it…they were very detailed and helpful. The only problem was the loose black plastic spacer that was just “floating and moving” inside the wall! Thank you for all of your patience and suggestions!

  6. Melissa December 14, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

    Hi, my mom too has a very old house. I’m trying to replace her shower cartridge too. I only got as far as removing Shower Valve Escutcheon. The sleeve is completely stuck. I tried spraying liquid wrench were i could reach, tapped on it, still stuck. Any other advise, or am i going to have to saw it off somehow? Thanks for you time and advance.

    • Bob Jackson December 15, 2015 at 7:39 am #

      “a very old house” may have a different design that’s threaded on. Does the sleeve have a hex-shaped end? Or is it a thin round decorative piece like mine?

      • Melissa December 15, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

        It is thin and round like yours.

        • Bob Jackson December 15, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

          Is the sleeve frozen in place or can you wiggle the sleeve side-to-side and/or back & forth? It should wiggle slightly as it’s held in place by the o-ring.

          Try breaking it free with a strap wrench. Place the strap wrench just below the sleeve shoulder (at the location between my index and middle finger in this photo) and apply a steady torque in a counter-clockwise direction.


  7. Melissa December 17, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

    It completely frozen. I’m going to go find the strap wrench and give it a try.

  8. Hannah January 3, 2016 at 9:48 am #

    We have the same kind of hand as you and had a dickens of a time getting the little Allen wrench screw out. Used some CLR and it loosened enough to get the screw out of the handle but the handle still won’t budge at all to come off. Could it be mineral build up keeping it stuck on? Any suggestions for getting it off?

    • Bob Jackson January 3, 2016 at 11:49 am #

      Soap and minerals can cause the handle to stick to the shower valve stem. Try rocking the handle while pulling out. It may take 5 or 10 mins of effort to get it off and the movement may be imperceptible at first. Don’t be too aggressive because the stresses are taken by the cartridge and shower valve body.

    • Rick February 7, 2016 at 11:42 pm #

      Hi Hannah, I have the same problem. Just curious if you were able pull out the handle.

  9. MacLayne January 6, 2016 at 11:30 am #

    I’m having a heck of a time removing the Escutcheon plate. The plate im working with has no screws to remove. I’ve tried using a plastic putty knife incase the previous owner added extra caulk. Any suggestions?
    I should mention the shower handle came off without any fuss.
    Thank you

    • Bob Jackson January 6, 2016 at 6:15 pm #

      No escutcheon plate screws… maybe it’s a one piece design that’s molded into the sleeve? Can you pull out the sleeve and escutcheon as one unit?

      What is the name of the shower trim manufacturer?

  10. kay February 2, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    I removed everything so far. I’m not sure if it’s a Delta part I need but it look like it. However, only one half of the fitting was removed, the other half is stuck in the brass pipe…you know the part where the springs go?….that is the portion stuck in the pipe.

  11. Sue February 13, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

    Hi– I have a different problem with my Delta shower faucet. It doesn’t leak. But the handle is loose. I tighten the screw and it holds for a while, but so me loose again, more quickly each time now. Obviously something is not catching anymore, but what part?

    • Bob Jackson February 13, 2016 at 12:53 pm #

      Remove the handle and look at the metal shower valve stem. The valve stem may be marred or deformed causing the set screw to slip. If so you’ll need to replace the shower valve cartridge.

      Also check if the set screw feels loose or wiggly inside the handle when it’s screwed in. Try some Loctite threadlocker if the screw is not holding well in the handle threads. Loctite is available at home improvement stores in the glue isle.

  12. Faye July 23, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

    I lost my set screw while I had it off. It was stripped so I was panning to replace it. What size is the set screw for this handle? Thx

    • Bob Jackson July 23, 2016 at 6:53 pm #

      Probably the simplest way is to take the handle to the hardware store to see which set screw fits. Or you can look up the part on the manufacturer’s website and order one but you’ll need to know the make and model # of the shower trim.

      For example, suppose you have a Delta Classic Monitor 13 Series Shower trim like mine. Clicking on Repair Parts displays common repair parts, including the Part # RP152 set screw.

  13. Earl Mayo August 5, 2016 at 7:31 am #

    Water will not come on. Shower worked before put has not been used for a couple of years. When I turned it on water would not come out. Replaced cartilage and still not water. Water does get to the unit because I turned it on without cartilage in place. Is it possible that the pipe going to shower head is stopped up.i have apex plumbing and this unit is supplied at the very top of the panel. I am thinking it could be stopped up with sand when house was built.

    • Bob Jackson August 6, 2016 at 9:49 am #

      Remove the shower head and try running the shower. Sand is more likely to clog the head.

  14. Joe S. September 10, 2016 at 12:38 pm #

    I have a valve that we cannot figure out how to remove the cover behind the faucet even when the wall plate has been removed. After I could not figure it out, two plumbers have come by, scratched their heads and said sorry can’t help you.
    Would be great to be able to share a photo!

    • Joe S. September 10, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

      By the way, no set screw, Allen or otherwise, no seam between where the handle screws in and the decorative cover over the valve stem.

      • Bob Jackson September 10, 2016 at 1:05 pm #

        Send photos to bob[at], replace the [at] with the @ symbol. Do you see any markings indicating the manufacturer’s name?

Leave a Reply