How Do You Fix a Leaky Delta Single Handle Shower Faucet?
Delta shower faucets are some of the most reliable and long-lasting in the industry. But they don’t last forever. At some point in their life they will start to leak.
A dripping/leaking Delta shower faucet is almost always caused by a faulty cartridge. This is usually due to worn out cartridge seats and springs, mineral deposits/debris or worn out O-rings. Replacing the entire cartridge or the seats and springs will fix the problem.
It is important to know the type of Delta shower faucet and cartridge you have before starting the repair. Delta has different types of cartridges that are not interchangeable so you need to know your cartridge’s model number and order an exact replacement.
To know what type of Delta faucet cartridge you have, compare it with the ones on the Shower Cartridge Identifier on their website. Alternatively, you can take your old cartridge to the nearest home improvement store and buy an exact replacement.
Your Delta shower faucet model can be found on the packaging that came with the faucet. If you cannot trace the packaging, use the Delta website to compare it with the images there.
The good thing is that Delta shower cartridges have a lifetime warranty. If you are the original buyer of the faucet, contact their customer care with the part number of the old cartridge and they will ship a replacement kit for you free of charge.
Although replacing the shower cartridge seats and springs will most likely stop a leaking Delta shower faucet, I usually recommend replacing the entire cartridge. That way you will have the peace of mind that the faucet will not leak for the next several years.
Replacing a shower faucet cartridge sounds like a really hard task but it isn’t and you don’t need to hire a plumber to do it. Any homeowner can do it in about 15 minutes or less.
How to Fix a Dripping Delta Shower Faucet
To fix a dripping shower faucet you will need the following:
- Cartridge replacement kit
- Philips screwdriver/ set of Allen wrenches
- Strap wrench/pliers
- flathead screwdriver
- plumber’s grease
Once you have the items in place, follow the steps below to replace the cartridge:
1. Turn off Water to Your Shower
You cannot replace a shower cartridge with water already flowing in the pipes. Those who have attempted it have a story to tell.
Unlike other fixtures in your house, a shower faucet is the only one without a separate shut off valve. You will therefore need to turn off the entire water supply to your house.
Some houses have a shower access panel on the wall behind the shower faucet. If you see this access panel in your house, remove it to reveal shut off valves for both cold and hot water lines to the shower faucet.
If you have no access panel, dash to the basement or wherever your main water shut off valve is and turn off water to the house. Turn on the shower faucet to drain the water already in the pipes.
After draining the lines, plug off the shower or bathtub drain to prevent dropping anything down the drain. You will also want to make sure that the tub or shower floor is dry to prevent slipping and falling.
2. Remove the Faucet Handle
A Delta shower faucet will have either a lever or a knob for a handle. Removing any of them is however very easy.
- If you have a lever-type handle, turn it upside down to reveal a hex screw underneath it.
- Use an Allen wrench to remove the screw.
- Grab the lever and pull it out as you wiggle it at the same time.
- If you have a knob-type handle, it will be connected to the cartridge by a Philips screw. The screw is usually hidden by an index cap at the front.
- Pry off the index cap with a flathead screwdriver or knife.
- Use the Philips screwdriver to remove the screw.
- Remove the handle by pulling it out and wiggling it at the same time. It may not come off easily if it has been in place for a long time due to corrosion.
3. Remove the Cartridge
- Remove the trim sleeve. This is the round piece between the handle and the cartridge. It is usually not threaded so you only need to slide it out. You will see a spacer when you look inside the trim sleeve. Put the sleeve aside.
- Remove the cartridge ring. A cartridge ring holds the cartridge tightly in place. Before using a wrench to try and remove it, I recommend that you first check if it is only hand tight.
- If the cartridge ring is quite tight, a strap wrench is the recommended tool for removing it. You can however use an adjustable wrench or pliers. Be gentle on this piece as you do not want to oval it.
- Once the ring is loose, unscrew it with your hand and place it aside as well.
- With the ring out, the cartridge is now free. Grab it with your hand and pull it straight out. You may need to wiggle it a little as you pull it out. Also, note that some water will come out once you pull out the cartridge.
Once the cartridge is out, inspect it for any damages and try to find out why it was leaking in the first place. Although my recommendation is that you replace the cartridge, you can opt to only replace the seat and springs only. Check out this You Tube video if you need to replace the seats and springs.
4. Clean the Shower Valve Body
Grab a flashlight and inspect the inside of the shower valve body. Check if there is corrosion, mineral deposits or just any form of debris that will prevent you new cartridge from working properly.
It is not unusual for a shower faucet to leak even after replacing the cartridge.
Clean out all the corrosion and mineral deposits from the inside of the valve body. Some people even turn on the water for a few seconds to flush the pipes which prevent the new cartridge from being plugged by debris.
5. Install the new Cartridge
- Apply grease on the new cartridge’s O-rings. This helps it to seal effectively and also easy to pull out the next time you will be replacing it.
- Check the cartridge’s orientation. There will be ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ markings on the cartridge. It is important to ensure that as you install the cartridge, the side marked ‘hot’ is on the left while the one marked ‘cold’ is on the right.
- Gently push the cartridge inside the valve body.
- Please not that there are 2 indentations on the valve body that should match with 2 shoulders on the cartridge. These 2 should coincide as a confirmation that the cartridge is properly installed.
- Screw in the cartridge ring. You do not need to tighten the ring with a wrench. Hand tight is perfect.
- Slide in the trim sleeve. Again, do not forget which side goes in first. The side that goes in first is the side with the spacer and is also wider.
- Adjust the anti-scald device. This is the plastic piece at the tip of the cartridge. Pull it and turn it to the left for hotter or right for colder water. Once you have adjusted it don’t forget to push it in.
6. Install the Handle
Install the faucet handle back pretty much the same way you removed it.
Once you have connected the handle back turn on the water and test your new shower faucet. If indeed a faulty cartridge was the problem, you will notice that the dripping will stop.
As I had mentioned earlier, some faucets will continue leaking even after replacing a cartridge. If unfortunately that happens to you, the shower valve may be damaged and would need a replacement.
Replacing a shower valve is expensive since it will also require hiring a licensed plumber.
If you would like to follow all the above steps from a video by Delta, here is one for you.