Bath handle replacement

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How to Replace a Tub or Shower Cartridge to Fix Your Faulty Faucet

Troubles with your tub and shower faucet can be surprisingly easy to fix. If you struggle to turn the faucet on and off or control the temperature, it's likely that your shower faucet cartridge needs to be repaired or replaced. Once you shut off the water and remove the handle and escutcheon, you can quickly determine whether the cartridge for your single-handle tub and shower faucet is a cartridge, ball, or disk type. Before you replace your shower cartridge, note that mineral deposits from hard water could be the cause of your faucet issues. If you see deposits when you disassemble the faucet, soak the cartridge in vinegar to clean it before reattaching. Otherwise, a damaged cartridge might require you to repair or replace a certain part. Manufacturers make cartridges of varying designs, so take the cartridge with you when you shop for replacement parts. If the damage is more serious, you might need to replace the entire cartridge. Follow our steps below to learn how to replace a shower or tub cartridge to keep your faucet running smoothly.

What you need


Replace a Bathtub Faucet Handle

I have recently finished updating my shower fixtures. And as I was admiring my handwork, I started to think that my bathtub might be feeling a bit neglected.

My bathtub hardware looked just like my shower -- it was looking pretty grimey. The bathtub handle was covered in soap scum and hard water stains. There were scratches in the finish. I'd tried my best to clean it over the years using store-bought cleaners and some vinegar concoctions. But I'd finally reached the moment when I had to say to myself, "SELF, I've done all I can do to prolong this, now I just need to replace it!"

After that important decision was made, I started researching exactly how to replace my bathtub fixtures. I had a Delta handle and spout in my bathtub already, and I just wanted a cosmetic fix. I really didn't want to change any cartridges or repipe any valves in the wall. So, I decided the best thing to do would be to just buy another Delta system.

Below are two videos of this project from start to finish. I did encounter a few issues when I was installing my new bathtub handle. They were: (1) the bonnet was stuck in the old casing and I had to get it out before I could continue, and (2) the old casing was longer than the new casing and the new casing left unsightly gaps between the faceplate and the handle. For this reason, I decided to make two videos about this project. The first is shorter and assumes that you encounter no difficulties at all. The second video is a truer account of the problems that I encountered and and how I solved them as I tackled this project.

I hope you acquire some new knowledge from watching either video. But most importantly, I hope you gain confidence to tackle a similar project of your own! Good luck to you!

Assumes that you don't encounter any issues while tackling this project.

Encounters and addresses two major problems while tackling this project. They are: (1) the bonnet is stuck in the casing, and (2) the new casing is too short for the existing piping in the tub.

Tools Used on this Project

Assuming you run into no problems at all, these are the tools that you will need:

  • knife or other pointy object -- to remove the cap from the handle

  • phillips screwdriver -- for... ummm... screws...

The bonnet (large nut that secures the cartridge into the valve) is stuck in the casing. If you have this problem, these are the tools that you will need:

  • PB Penetrating Catalyst or WD 40 -- for loosening up any stuck and stubborn parts

The casing that came with the trim kit is too short and doesn't fit the needed length from the faceplate to the handle. If you have this problem, these are tools that you will need:

  • Spray paint -- to match the old casing to the new finish

  • Spray sealer -- to protect the paint job

Helpful Tips and Tricks for Each Step of this Project

Step 1: Turn off the water to your house

  • My water supply valve might look different from yours. But in general the water is turned off when the lever is perpendicular with the pipe. Or, if you have a twist knob, usually you turn the knob clockwise to shut the water off.

  • Make sure that you turn on some faucets around your house and let them drip until no more water comes out before you start this project. You don't want any water in the pipes when you remove the shower arm or else water could come out and drip inside of your walls.

Step 2: Pry the cap off to expose the screw

  • Your cap might look a little different from mine, but the basic idea is the same. You need to pry the cap off to expose the screw underneath of it. If your cap has notches, then stick a pointy object in there and start wiggling it back and forth to loosen the cap.

  • If you have a cap without notches, try using your finger nails to get under the cap and loosen it up. If that doesn't work, try using a flat head screw driver. Be cautious not to scratch the finish if you're planning to save this handle for later.

Step 3: Remove the screw and pull the handle off

  • Once you remove the cap, this should reveal a screw underneath that is holding the handle in place. Hold the handle with one hand, and unscrew the screw with the other to keep it from moving on you.

  • Then just grab the handle and pull it until it slides off.

Step 4: Remove the faceplate and casing

  • With the handle out of the way, you should have easier access to the screws that are holding the faceplate against the wall. Unscrew these. They are quite long -- if you have a drill, you could make quicker work of these screws.

  • To remove the faceplate, pull it towards you and it should slide off.

  • Then remove the casing that houses the valve and cartridge. It should slide off when you pull it towards you. And remove the rubber gasket too (looks like a hair tie around the valve).

Problem #1: Bonnet stuck in casing

Hopefully you have an easier time at Step 4 than I did. The bonnet (a large nut that secures the cartridge into the valve) got stuck inside the casing making it so I couldn't pull the casing off. So, I twisted off the casing instead and the bonnet came off with it. In the accompanying photo, you can see the gold bonnet stuck inside the old chrome casing. This bonnet is really important because it secures the cartridge inside the valve.

I had to get the bonnet out from inside the casing before I could continue, so I sprayed some PB Penetrating Catalyst on it and let it set for an hour hoping that might loosen it up. Then I twisted the casing back into place and pulled. This time the casing came off and the bonnet stayed put right where it was supposed to. Eureka! All this to say that "if at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again!" That's half the fun of DIY projects -- they're like little puzzles that you have solve as you go along.

Bonnet stuck inside the old casing

  • Your kit might come with a replacement cartridge. I chose not to replace mine because my shower wasn't leaking. All the plumbing was working great, I just wanted to change the look of my shower handle. But if there are any leaks in your shower, you should replace the cartridge at this point. There should be instructions included in your kit.

Step 5: Put on the new casing and faceplate

  • Put the new rubber gasket (looks like a hair tie) around the valve. There is a large nut (called a bonnet) that is keeping the cartridge secure inside the valve. You want to put the rubber gasket on the back side of the bonnet. This gasket acts as a spacer between the casing that the cartridge.

  • Slide the new casing into place.

  • Next, you want to install the new faceplate. In my opinion, this is the trickiest part. I found it difficult to line up the screw holes on the face plate with the screw mounts that were in the wall. It's a little easier if you:

      • leave the faceplate about an inch or so from the wall so that you can still see into the wall to locate the screw mounts, and

      • Once you get the first screw set in the right spot, stop and start working on the second screw. If you screw in the first screw all the way, you're not going to be able to see inside the wall and confirm that you got the screw into its mount.

      • Once both screws are set, then screw them in the whole way.

Problem #2: The new casing is shorter than the old casing

I had trouble with Step 5 because my new casing was shorter than my old one. Normally this wouldn't be that big of a deal. But, it was so short that it left gaps between the faceplate and the handle. The accompanying pictures show this height difference and the gaps that it caused.

Something needed to be done. The old casing was the perfect size, but it was chrome and my new handle has an oil-rubbed bronze finish. So, I tried to make the old chrome casing match the new trim kit's finish. I had some oil-rubbed bronze spay paint from a previous project and I sprayed two coats of paint on the old chrome casing. Then I applied a coat of sealer to protect the paint job. It's not a perfect paint match. But it's a heck of a lot nicer than the gaps I would have been staring at!

Again, problem solving is half the fun of DIY!

Step 6: Install the new bathtub faucet handle

  • If your new bathtub handle has the cap already on it, you're going to have to remove this before you can install the new handle.

  • Once the cap is removed, this should reveal that screw that secures the handle to the cartridge. Slide the handle onto the casing. And screw this into place.

  • Put the cap back on so that the screw is covered up.

Step 7: Turn on the water to the house and try it out

  • Make sure that you turn on some faucets around your house before you start turning the water back on. This will ensure that when the water re-enters your pipes it doesn't slam up against any stoppers and cause any potential damage. Let the water flow.

  • My water supply valve might look different from yours. But in general the water is turned on when the lever is parallel with the pipe. Or, if you have a twist knob, usually you turn the knob counterclockwise to turn the water back on.

  • Turn on the water slowly. Move the lever or twist the knob just a bit at a time. Taking your time will ensure that water doesn't rush into your home and potentially damage any of your fixtures.

I wish you success with your project.

Side note: If you have your heart set on installing new bathtub fixtures made by a different manufacturer than what you already have, it might be worth your money to contact a reputable plumber for advice first. Changing the manufacturer could cause you to need a different cartridge, which might cause you to need a different valve, which in turn will cause you to need to repipe the shower so the new valve is connected with your pipes. One thing leads to another, and I'm fully willing to admit that I'd probably need the help of an expert to tackle a project like that. If I did a bad job and the pipes start leaking, I'd never know because it's inside my walls and I wouldn't be able to see it.

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Original Antique Replacement Handles

Replace missing or broken antique handles with original OEM handles!

Faucet Handle Information: Faucets are something like auto parts: there are dozens of different brands and 1000’s of different models with almost no parts interchangeability between brands. The picture above shows just a tiny fraction of our selection of handles.

There is no “standard” faucet handle! In most cases, you will need to send us one of your original handles so we can match it with handles from our extensive collection. We will first find handles that fit your faucet stems and then try to select the closest match for condition, color, and print font on the “hot” and “cold” lettering.

All handles are original antiques and will show normal signs of use and wear.

Brass handles and porcelain handles with brass spuds can be polished or plated for an additional charge. Zinc handles will usually have varying degrees of pitting as zinc does not hold up as well as brass. Zinc handles are generally not worth re-plating as they are usually only found on newer, less valuable faucets.

Original Antique Handle Price Guide

Porcelain Cross Hot/Cold Handles With Brass Spuds

100’s of varieties with threaded, splined, or square spuds available. Customer will need to send handle or stem for matching. Matched sets not available. Prices range from $35 to $75 depending upon condition.

Porcelain Cross Hot/Cold handles with brass spud

Porcelain Cross Diverter/Drain Handles

Handles with “Waste”, “Drain”, “Shower” or diverter arrows on them. Customer needs to send handle. Limited supply, may not be able to match all handles or styles.
$50 each if available

Please note: Due to high demand, we are currently out of handles to fit 3/8″ square stems. We now however have a new replacement handle option for Crane and other handles that use a 3/8″ square spud. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

Porcelain Cross Hot/Cold handles with brass spuds

Porcelain Lever Handles With Brass Spud

100’s of varieties in both nickel and brass for vertical and horizontal mount. Customer will need to send handle or stem for matching.
Matched sets not available.
$15 each

Porcelain Lever Handles with Brass Spud

5 & 6 Spoke Brass Ball Tip Handles

Brass and nickel plated. Must send sample handle or stem.
Very limited supply. Currently sold out of Crane- brand but call or email for availability.
Matched sets not available.
$90 each

5 & 6 Spoke Brass Ball Tip Handles

Brass And Zinc Cross Handles, Not Crane

Chrome, nickel, brass, and plain zinc. 100’s of sizes, styles, and varieties. Customer must send sample handle or valve stem for matching.
Brass: $15 each
Zinc: $10 each

Brass and Zinc Cross Handles, not Crane

Single Lever Handles f/ Single-Control Shower Valves

Handles for Crane, Symmons, and ‘Standard’. Need to know stem diameter and spline count to order. Various styles available.
Porcelain & Brass: $110 each
Solid Brass: $90

Single Lever Handles f/ single-control shower valves

Post WW2 Crane Canopy Handles

Some restored originals available, call (800) 255-4426 or e-mail [email protected] for details. Prices range from $50 to $125 a set. Limited availability, expedited shipping may not be available.

Post WW2 Crane Canopy handles

Note: Handles pictured above are representative samples only and may no longer be available.

Polish and lacquer brass handle or handle spud$18.00 ea.
Nickel Plate brass handle or handle spud$22.50 ea.
Chrome plate zinc faucet handles.  (2 week lead-time)$40.00

How To Order

  1. Send us your Pre-1960 original handle or faucet stem. (Please don’t send newer handles, we won’t have anything to fit faucets made after 1960)
    (Click here for shipping & packing information.)
  2. We will attempt to match your handle with one(s) from our stock. Though we have about a 80% success rate in finding matching handles, we do not guarantee that we will find a handle, only that we will try our best.
    PLEASE NOTE!: Despite the size of our collection, we rarely have more than two or three handles of the same style. If you need a matched set of handles you should consider reproduction replacements.
  3. We will call with a price and ask for your billing information at this time. If no original handle is found, we will outline the available options for using reproduction handles.

Replacement Handles For Glue-In Spuds

Replace your broken ceramic cross handles with these new handles by gluing the original handle spuds into brand new handles. Also available are new replacement spuds for 5/16″, 3/8″, and Crane handle broaches.

Replacement handles for glue-in spuds

Still Have Questions?

Feel free to call us at (209) 728-2031 or email us and we will be more than happy to discuss your restoration project with you.

How to Repair a Delta Tub / Shower Valve

Faucet Handles

About Faucet Handles

Choose from thousands of options of sink, shower, and tub faucet handles. Though most faucet installations come with handles, nothing lasts forever, and father time eventually strikes. Thus, after time goes by, chances are you may need to get replacement faucet handles; that’s where our unmatched supply of options comes into play.

Here at PlumbersStock, we offer the widest variety of faucet handle brands on the market. From Moen porcelain handles to Delta metal lever handles, we offer every type of handle imaginable so you can get precisely what you are looking for in your bathroom or kitchen.

Best of all, whether you are looking to replace your current handles because of wear and tear or a simple design choice, we have you covered with wholesale faucet parts! So, without further ado, here is our beginner’s guide to faucet handle replacements.

Replacement Faucet Handle Designs

Though replacing broken sink handles is undoubtedly a big reason to buy them, it isn’t the only reason; in fact, one of the most popular reasons to purchase replacement faucet handles is to improve the design of the bathroom overall. After all, let’s face it; if you buy a cheap sink faucet set, the function might be there, but the design is more than likely lacking; buying a pair of new handles can undoubtedly help with that. We offer some of the best handle designs, from modern lever handles to classic handle inserts that work best as simple replacements. Plus, with such high-quality brands like Moen and more, you know you are getting a great product with every purchase. Without a doubt, our supply of faucet handle parts is beautiful, classy, functional, and a perfect remedy to give your sink just a bit extra pizzazz in the overall design scheme of your bathroom.

How to Install Faucet Handles

Of course, once you purchase your handles, chances are you may need help installing them (if you are a beginner, of course). Unfortunately, all sinks are different depending on the model, so there isn’t an all-encompassing formula you can follow. But, we can give you a few easy directions on some of our basic models. Here are just a few:

Sink Inserts

  • Overall, sink inserts are the easiest faucet handles to install. Providing you have a base to install the handle insert into, all you need to do is insert the nipple into the receiving end and screw! It’s that easy and should take no more than a few minutes at the longest.

Simple Twist Faucet Handles

Lever handles, unfortunately, are a bit more labor-intensive; follow these directions to complete the job:

  • Unscrew the screw running through the entirety of the handle (typically, the screw is directly in the middle on the top. You may need to remove the temperature signifier cap).
  • Remove the handle.
  • Put the replacement handle over the valve that is now exposed. NOTE: You may need to wriggle the handle around a bit to ensure it’s attached sufficiently.
  • Screw the handle back in, but make sure the screw is not too tight, or you won’t be able to turn the handle.

Buy Discount Faucet Handle Replacements

With literally thousands of options, you are sure to find the right match for your existing installation. Be sure to get the right finish and a configuration that is compatible with your faucet. If you are having trouble finding the right replacement faucet handles, please contact us for help. Thank you for choosing PlumbersStock for all your bathroom faucet and kitchen faucet needs.


Replacement bath handle

How to Replace Shower & Bathtub Handles

The humid climate inside a bathtub enclosure or shower stall isn't good for the faucet handles. If you have hard water, mineral deposits can turn them white, and water from a dripping shower head can discolor them. Moreover, corrosion can damage the threads on the valve stems and loosen the handles. Replacing shower and tub faucet handles is one of the least challenging of plumbing tasks. Before undertaking any type of faucet repair, it's a good idea to turn off the water supply, but this step isn't critical if all you plan to do is change the handles.

  1. Examine the handles. Sometimes the screw holding it on is visible, but if you don't see one, it may be hidden behind a plug. If you have lever-style handles, they are probably held by Allen nuts under the lever.

  2. Pry off the plug with a slot screwdriver. It's a cap located on the front of round or faceted handles that sometimes bears the logo of the faucet manufacturer. Work the tip of the screwdriver between the plug and the handle and gently pry the plug upward.

  3. Unscrew the screw holding the handle to the valve stem, using a No. 2 Phillips screwdriver. Don't force it if it's difficult to turn, or you may strip the head. Instead, spray lubricant on it and wait a few minutes before trying again.

  4. Pull the handle toward you and it should slide off the valve stem. If it's stuck, you may have to tap it lightly with a hammer to loosen mineral deposits or corrosion.

  5. Use an Allen wrench to loosen the nut holding a lever-style handle in place. A 1/8-inch wrench works for most handles, but it's a good idea to have a set of wrenches in case you need a larger one. Pull the handle off the valve stem when you have backed off the nut sufficiently to free it.

  6. Inspect the tip of the valve stem. If it is possible to turn the old handle without turning the valve along with it, the threads may be stripped. You may be able to renew the threads with a file, but if they are too worn, replace the entire valve stem. This job requires turning off the water and should be left to a plumber if you aren't comfortable doing it.

  7. Orient the new handle so the notches line up with those on the valve stem. Slide it onto the stem. Replace the Phillips screw or Allen nut and tighten it. Pull on the handle after tightening an Allen nut to ensure the nut is in as far as it will go and the handle doesn't come off.

  8. Tap the plug into place, if there is one, with a hammer. Plugs for two-handle faucets often have markings or colors to identify hot and cold, so be sure they are on the correct handles.

  9. Things You Will Need

    • Slot screwdriver

    • No. 2 Phillips screwdriver

    • Allen wrenches

    • Spray lubricant

    • Hammer

    • File


    Pulling off a stuck handle can sometimes be difficult. You may have to lever a screwdriver between the handle and the wall to get it off. When doing this, place a scrap piece of wood between the screwdriver and the wall to make the job easier and protect the wall.

    If the handle is wet or you notice water leaking from the valve stem when you remove it, turn off the water, remove the stem and replace any worn washers.

How to Repair a Moen Shower/Tub valve


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