Moen faucet cartridges are some of the best and long lasting cartridges in the market. They are however not always easy to replace especially if you live in an area with hard water or if there was no grease applied on the O-rings during installation.
The main reason your Moen cartridge is stuck is due to corrosion caused by hard water especially iron and manganese. Failure to lubricate the O-rings during installation also causes the O-rings to tightly bind on the valve’s housing making them hard to pull out.
To make it easy to pull out their cartridges, Moen designed a cartridge removal tool which helps you rotate the cartridge inside the valve, thereby freeing it and making it easy to pull out.
Sometimes, the Moen cartridge will not come out even after using this tool. Luckily, there are a few ways to remove a stuck Moen cartridge that plumbers have found to be useful over time.
Before concluding that your Moen faucet cartridge is stuck, make sure that you have removed the retaining clip. This is the clip that holds the cartridge in place inside the shower valve body.
This may sound so obvious but you may be surprised by the number of times I have seen people spend hours trying to pull out a cartridge with the retaining clip still in place.
So, what should you do if you have tried pulling out you Moen faucet cartridge but it just won’t budge?
To remove a stuck Moen faucet cartridge, use a hair dryer on the highest heat setting to warm the cartridge for 5 to 10 minutes or douse it with WD-40 or vinegar to dissolve the minerals. If that does not work, cut threads inside the cartridge housing then use a bolt and washers to draw it out.
I know this is very brief so let us see how to do that in more details.
Related: How to fix a leaking Moen shower faucet cartridge.
4 Ways to Remove a Stuck Moen Cartridge
There are 4 ways that I know of that can be used successfully to remove a stuck Moen faucet cartridge. Some works seamless well in some faucets while some don’t. You will need to try what will work out well for you.
I will start with the easiest and most effective method. Here they are:
1. Use the Moen Cartridge Puller
If you have the new Moen cartridge replacement kit with you, look for a small plastic piece. That is the cartridge puller although you can also buy another one which comes with a handle.
Again, it is important to make sure that you have removed the cartridge retaining clip before trying to pull out the cartridge.
If you look at the cartridge puller, there are 2 shoulders that need to engage the 2 shoulders on the cartridge.
- Slide the cartridge puller inside the cartridge until it properly engages it.
- Grab the flat sides of the puller with a pair of pliers and try to twist it left and right.
The idea here is that as you twist the cartridge inside the shower valve, it will free up making it easy to pull out.
If the cartridge starts to rotate freely inside the shower valve, remove the puller, grab it with the pliers and pull it straight out.
Stuck/corroded cartridges will however not come out that easily. They will need more persuasion to free up.
Tip! What happens if you don’t have a cartridge puller?
Do you know that you can use your faucet handle as cartridge puller? For both shower and kitchen faucets! How you ask?
After remove the cartridge retaining clip, reattach the handle and use it to twist and even pull the cartridge? Try this if you do not have a cartridge puller.
2. Warm the Cartridge with a Hairdryer
To be honest with you I don’t know the Physics behind this trick but it works pretty well. Applying constant heat on the cartridge loosens it up making it easy to pull out.
The tool of choice for heat application is the hairdryer. Put it to the highest temperature settings then start blowing hot air on the cartridge for 5 to 10 minutes.
My guess is that the heat softens the O-rings while at the same time helps the valve expand a little therefore detaching the cartridge.
- Connect the hairdryer to a power source and adjust it to the highest heat settings.
- Start blowing hot air all of the cartridge for 5-10 minutes.
- After the 5/10 minutes, put the hairdryer away and put back the cartridge puller.
- Grab it with the pliers and again twist it right and left.
- Check if it is easier to rotate the cartridge after the heat treatment.
- Apply more heat if need be.
- Once the cartridge feels free enough, pull it straight out with the pliers.
3. Douse the Cartridge with Vinegar or WD-40
WD-40 and vinegar are 2 readily available products at home that have been successfully used to loosen corroded connections by dissolving the minerals. It is the same thing with a stuck cartridge.
- Grab a can of WD-40 or put some vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it all over the cartridge.
- Try to twist the cartridge as you spray the WD-40/vinegar.
- Give it about an hour to penetrate the cartridge and work out its magic.
- Keep spraying more of the WD-40/vinegar say after every 10 minutes.
- After the one hour, use the cartridge puller to twist and free up the cartridge.
4. Thread the Cartridge Sleeve with a Tap
This method is used for pulling out a stuck Moen cartridge sleeve. Sometimes if you have an old cartridge that you are desperate to pull out, you may pull it out forcefully only to end with the cartridge shaft with the sleeve still tightly held inside the valve housing.
That is where this method becomes useful.
You need to get hold of a ½-inch tap and use it to make threads inside the cartridge sleeve. The inside of the cartridge sleeve is made of brass which is easy to thread.
As you thread through the sleeve, you want to hear it squeaking which tells you that the bolt you are going to use will grab the cartridge tightly as well.
After making sufficient threads, remove the tap.
You will then want to use an equal size of bolt (1/2-inch) to remove the cartridge. You need to make sure that the bolt is long enough.
Apart from the bolt, you will need 2 nuts of the same size and about 3 or 4 washers.
- Screw in the 2 nuts on the bolt all the way to the middle then slide in the washers.
- Screw in the bolt inside the cartridge until it is hand tight.
As you will notice, the washers are very important in this task. Since they are bigger in size that the shower valves housing, they will wedge against the housing and as you tighten the bolt the cartridge will be drawn out.
- Once the bolt is hand tight, use a wrench to tighten it further. The more you tighten the bolt the more you push the washers against the valve housing and in the process pull out the cartridge sleeve.
I will leave this video her for you which explains in details what you exactly need to do.
And that is how to remove a stuck Moen faucet cartridge. I hope this post was of help.