Intro: Repairing a Leaking Price Pfister Shower Faucet (replacing/tuning Up the Cartridge)
This is my faucet/shower combo in my master bath. I remodeled it myself about 4 years ago and lately once shutting the water off its still dripping, to various degrees of leaking. Sometimes its a lot sometimes just a drip here or there, but its annoying and its screwing up my tub so.. time to fix it.
Now each one of these single handle systems are different, they all have basically the same type of parts but these repairs will only work with a Price Pfister system, and even still when i went back to the depot to buy replacement parts they didnt have the parts I needed, even though I bought the whole thing there.
So what I did worked for me, hopefully if you're experiencing the same kind of problem I had then it'll work for you.
Step 1: It Leaks, and Its Annoying
So the way these things work is, your handle works kind of like an airlock.. but with water, so its a water lock. As you turn the handle it opens two valves which you'll see later, the more you turn the handle the more water is let through both of those valves and it gets hotter, or colder.
Now there's a lot of moving parts in there, and water always finds a way to wiggle itself through any crack or busted worn out o-ring.. or rock [see grand canyon]
So what happens is the O-rings or a little bit of rust gets stuck in this complex system of valves and screws up the works and poof.. leaky faucet.
ok lets take it apart
Step 2: Removing the Handle
Step one: SHUT THE DRAIN
super important dealing with tiny little parts here and the last thing you want is for them to go down the drain, so shut that thing.
Underneath the handle there should be a small hole with a hex head screw in it, its a set screw to keep you from being able to just willy-nilly pull the handle off. Which is what we need to do so a hex wrench came with it when you bought this, its a tiny little guy, but its also a standard size so if you have a set of hex wrenches then you've got it.
Once you get the handle off, there will be a little piece with a phillips head at the end of it. Mine i could just unscrew with my fingers, so take that piece off as well. set everything to the side. Also in here is your piece of plastic that determines how hot your water gets, take a picture of it so you can put it back in the same place it was. Otherwise you're going to get either a really hot or really cold shower.
Now pop off the trim ring and set that aside.
Step 3: Clearing a Path
Now depending on how your equipment was installed you might be able to get to the 4 screws that we need to remove to get the big grey piece of plastic outa there.
Also if you can see, look to the left and right at the pipes you may have water shut off screws in the pipes and that will make things a lot easier. If you do have those just go ahead and shut them, usually they're a flat head screw and it just shuts off the water. If you dont have those on your pipes, head down to your primary water shut off and turn it off. Otherwise its going to get seriously wet when you start taking this thing apart any further.
ok now with my mine, i had to remove some tile from around the faucet so I could get the pieces out. I used a dremel with a tile cutting tip and just buzzed off enough so I could get to the pieces I needed. The trim ring should of left an outline on the tile, so you can see where you can cut away and not have to worry about having gaping holes in your tile.
Once you can get to those 4 screws, and the water is off, take them out. Once they're removed the entire grey piece should slide out.
Step 4: The Internal Cartridge
This is the piece that runs the show, and its complicated.
On the bottom of it, there will be clips that hold it all in place, you want to carefully remove those and then the inner guts will slide out. Lots of little parts in here, so it might be a good idea to take a picture or two with your phone as you disassemble these things so you know how they all go back together.
Step 5: Checking for Damage
Now this is going to come apart in pieces, you want to look at each set and the O rings make sure there is no crack or rips in them. Also another good idea to take pictures of this as it comes apart, easier to put it back together.
Replacing the entire cartridge can be expensive, rule of thumb the more expensive your shower faucet system the more expensive fixing it is going to be.
Plus without going to a plumbing supply place you're probably not going to find parts for what you need at the depot, unless you bought your faucet recently.
But you can get a really cheap package of waterproof grease, and that will go a long way to fixing this problem as long as none of your O rings are shot
So with your grease you want to pretty much lube up anything that's rubber and any part that moves. Once you've done this, just reassemble it and slide it back into the holder and make sure the clips are secure holding it in place.
install it back in the pipes, tighten down the 4 screws you took out earlier and just replace everything you took off. Make sure to put the temperature adjustment piece back in the same place.
Go back and turn the water back on, run the sink faucet to get all the air and crap out of the line. Dont just turn on the shower, we just cleaned this thing and you dont want any rust getting in your freshly cleaned out parts or you might have to take the thing apart again and start over. Once the lines stop burping, turn the shower on, and off, on and off on and off make sure there's no leaks from the tub filling faucet.
With luck it should be good to go.
Step 6: All Done (with Luck)
These things are tricky and while it doesnt seem like much, it took me awhile to get all of the pieces to go back together in the right order, I did not follow my own advice and take pictures of the pieces as they came apart, stupid me.
But I got mine fixed, and thankfully I only had to spend 5 bucks on grease. The replacement cartridge for my model was 30 bucks, and it didnt even fit, so I would of had to go to a plumber supply store or call a plumber and see if he could get the part. So that would of quickly broken at least the 200 dollar mark.
So with a little time and grease as long as nothings seriously broken inside your faucet, giving it a quick tune up might fix your problem and save you about 190 dollars.
Just remember shut the drain, turn the water off, take pictures.
I hope this helps you with your plumbing problem or at least lets you know what you're getting into when you start taking these things apart and you can decide if you want to tackle it yourself or just call someone straight away.