How to Repair a Shower Valve Stem | Ask This Old House

How to Repair a Shower Valve Stem | Ask This Old House

This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey fixes a faulty shower valve with new valve stems and seats. (See below for a shopping list, tools, and steps.)
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Shopping List for How to Repair a Shower Valve Stem:
Cloth [], for plugging up drainpipe
Replacement valve stems [] and stem seats []
Pipe-thread sealant [], to create watertight seal on stem seat
Plumber’s putty [], for sealing escutcheons to shower wall

Tools for How to Repair a Shower Valve Stem:
Pocket knife [], to pry off index covers
Phillips-head screwdriver [], for loosening and tightening handle-retaining screws
Valve socket [] and pliers [], to remove and install new valve stems
Seat wrench [], for replacing existing stem seats

Steps for How to Repair a Shower Valve Stem:
1. Turn off the water at the water main or wherever it enters the house.
2. Cover the tub/shower drain with a cloth to prevent small parts from dropping into the drainpipe.
3. Use a pocketknife to pry off the small round index cover from the shower’s hot-water faucet handle.
4. Remove the screw holding the handle in place, then pull the handle free of the valve stem.
5. By hand, unscrew and remove the escutcheon to expose the stem.
6. Use a valve socket and pliers to loosen and remove the old stem from the wall.
7. Unthread the existing seat from inside the valve with a seat wrench.
8. Brush pipe-thread sealant onto the threaded end of the new stem seat.
9. Use the seat wrench to tighten the new stem seat into the valve.
10. Carefully hand-tighten the new valve stem into the valve body, then tighten it with the valve socket and pliers.
11. Repeat the previous eight steps to install new seats and stems onto the diverter and cold-water faucet handle.
12. Apply plumber’s putty to the back of each escutcheon plate, then hand-tighten them onto the stems. Remove any excess putty that squeezes out.
13. Screw the handles onto the valve stems.
14. Snap the index covers back onto the handles.
15. Remove the cloth from the drain, turn the water back on, and test your work.

About Ask This Old House TV:
Homeowners have a virtual truckload of questions for us on smaller projects, and we’re ready to answer. Ask This Old House solves the steady stream of home improvement problems faced by our viewers—and we make house calls! Ask This Old House features some familiar faces from This Old House, including Kevin O’Connor, general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Roger Cook.

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How to Repair a Shower Valve Stem | Ask This Old House



d laplant says:

I enjoyed the video. Looked easy enough until I tried it. The handle wouldn't come off until it broke off. Now I have to replace the stem? How do you know that you have the right replacement stem and seat? I think I have a Kohler, but no idea what model.

Also I have tried two different stem sockets. 29/32 is too big and 27/32 is too small. I can't find a 7/8 stem socket.

Cry Whit says:

I need me a Richard to come fix my valve stems!🙌🙏

Lawomenshoops says:

I guess I could look online, but the tools he used the wrench to get the valves out and the wrench to get the seats out, how much would those cost? Would it be worth it to buy those and do it yourself or just call the plumber?

Nahum Larios says:

He's using a JAWBONE bracelet lol, I used to work with them before they made a booboo

Tim Angel says:

How tf do they know im sitting in my bath watching my hot water valve drip 😰

DrizzyPuffs says:

My goodness you're awesome

Pedro Fuentes says:

I’m having a problem with my new Pfister valve stems that I just installed. Not sure 🤔 what I did wrong but when I shut the valves now there is a small stream of water coming out. Any thoughts?

Jennifer P says:

Thank you for take the time to produce a wonderful step by step educational video. Enjoyed every bit of it.
Aloha 🌺

Murray9933 says:

I love my Faucet setσσσ>     and it was easy to install. I would recommend this to anyone…

hawaiidispenser says:

Whew, this helped me a lot when replacing both hot n cold stems. Thanks!

Raul Arvizo says:

Richards Will Ferrell's dad

Anthony Martinez says:

You can tell that this guy knows what he’s doing good job 👍🏻

JRProductionsPGH says:

Help….I have an old two valve shower system and both the hot and cold will not turn off…. they just keep on turning. We have to turn the water off in the access panel… what is going on here????? HELP HELP….

Salvatore Monaco says:

That Allen Key thingamajig for the seat replacement “so it doesn’t drop into the wall” now what did Shakespeare the Plumber say?

There’s the rub!

Gilberto Garcia says:

If you don't have the money to replace all the stems just buy new ruber washers.

Steven Frank says:

Tom has a mustache

spookylicker says:


Joe Stacks says:

why not scrape off the old putty?

Ruben Hernandez says:

First of all you have to shut the main water line off. Otherwise it's impossible to remove the stem without make a big mess

Alexandro Hollie says:

i love THIS OLD HOUSE!… Thoroughly explains cause and affect in a step by step manor in a simple way.. Thank You!

Tommy Daly says:

Good Day, I am rebuilding my stems rather than simply replacing the $18 new ones, is there anything you can do if the screw that holds the black rubber washer is worn down from corrosion (any way to get the screw off and replace it?) The washers are a box of 10 for $3 so .30 cents to rebuild beats $18 to replace

Adam SK/EN says:

We also have this problem with our bathtub and it does the same but it gets hotter over time
And finally it's unbereably hot

Quicktwosteps says:

Thanks for making the video. I did mines myself.

Shari T says:

Great video and explanation!! So easy to follow! You guys ought to have your own TV show . . .

Janie Riddle says:

We moved into an Older house and we're having an issue with the shower as well. I'm very glad i watched this! Now i know there is a "Seat" that goes in there. Matching the Stems is the real problem i'll face 🙁

ColdSilver says:

Thank you so much for this video! You just saved me a lot of money and time in replacing my old shower knob. I thought I was gonna end up breaking the wall to take out the actual pipe and fixture but your video showed me that it is so easy to just remove the stem and replace it. Just did it in 10 minutes without any hitches!

ed dorflinger says:

One thing not mentioned in video and something you def need to do is open the valve or diverter before removal, other wise you will be trying to spin out the valve and seat simultaneously and prolly end up damaging at least your muscles or pride!

Slowed Hits says:

Her shower is optimal.

brigid feydo says:

I don’t see any bolt like in this video

brigid feydo says:

My stem gets loose but won’t come out

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