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How to Remove a Stuck Shower Cartridge (Delta, Moen)

You try to do the responsible thing by removing your shower cartridge, which will keep your shower system running smoothly, only to find the cartridge is stuck. How serious is this issue? Will you have to replace your entire shower valve?

A stuck shower cartridge is not an unheard-of issue, and this problem can affect any cartridge manufacturer, whether it’s a Moen, Delta, or Mixet. In addition, being unable to remove your cartridge can cause issues like poor water pressure and inconsistent temperature control.

This article will cover the reasons why shower cartridges get stuck and how to remove them regardless of whether you have a Moen, Delta, or Mixet cartridge. As a form of last resort, we will discuss the things you can do if your cartridge still won’t come out for whatever reason.

Let’s get started.

stuck shower cartridge

Why Does a Shower Cartridge Get Stuck

Shower cartridges have O-rings and other parts that help hold the cartridge together. The rubber in these parts can collect minerals from hard water and other sources. These minerals will bind the rubber and plastic of your shower cartridge onto the metal of the shower valve.

Usually, you can prevent a stuck cartridge by lubricating the O-rings, but that will only work for so long. This binding usually happens to cartridges that have been neglected for many years but can also happen more rapidly if you have some serious hard water issues.

How to Remove a Stuck Shower Cartridge

Tools Required

  • Brand Specific Cartridge Puller (Certain cartridges require a specific model cartridge puller)
  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Needle Nosed Pliers
  • Allen Wrenches
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Construction Knife/ Boxcutter
  • Spray Lubricant
  • Vinegar

How to Remove a Stuck Delta Shower Cartridge

Step 1.
Before proceeding with the removal process, you should shut off your main water supply and run a faucet to ensure your water has been turned off.

Step 2.
Inspect the handle of your shower. There should be some hex bolts that you can remove with an Allen wrench.

Step 3.
With the hex bolts removed, you may be able to pull the handle off by hand or use a flathead screwdriver to pry the handle off.

Step 4.
With the handle removed, pull out the trim sleeve by hand.

Step 5.
There will be a bonnet nut that holds the cartridge in place. You can remove this nut by hand, but lubricating spray and an adjustable wrench will help remove it if it is stuck.

Step 6.
With the bonnet nut removed, you will have direct access to your Delta shower cartridge. First, try to use your Delta cartridge puller to remove the cartridge.

Step 7.
If that does not work, you can try a few other things. Using a flathead screwdriver, you can try to wiggle and pry off the cartridge.

Step 8.
The last thing to try is to soak the cartridge housing in vinegar. Leave it to sit for a few hours or even overnight, and the vinegar should dissolve the minerals causing the cartridge to stick. You should then be able to pry off the cartridge with a screwdriver, your Delta cartridge puller, or possibly even remove it by hand.

How to Remove a Stuck Moen Shower Cartridge

Step 1.
Begin by turning off your water supply and removing your shower handle as described in the Delta removal process.

Step 2.
Most Moen cartridges have a retaining clip that can be removed with pliers. Use lubricating spray if necessary.

Step 3.
If that does not work, use your Moen cartridge puller and follow the instructions given for the cartridge pulling device.

Step 4.
If the Moen cartridge puller fails to remove the cartridge, soaking the cartridge housing in vinegar or lubricating spray for at least a few hours can help dissolve the minerals causing the cartridge to stick.

Step 5.
With the minerals dissolved, try using pliers or the cartridge removal tool to remove the cartridge.

How to Remove a Stuck Mixet Shower Cartridge

Step 1.
Start off by turning off your water supply and removing your shower handle, just as we outlined in the Delta removal process.

Step 2.
Many Mixet shower cartridges have both a retaining clip and a bonnet nut. Use needle-nosed pliers to remove the clip and an adjustable wrench to remove the bonnet nut.

Step 3.
With the bonnet nut and retaining clip removed, you will have access to your Mixet shower cartridge.

Step 4.
Mixet shower cartridges do not have a specific brand name puller like Moen and Delta, but a generic shower cartridge puller can do the trick.

Step 5.
If the cartridge puller does not work using pliers and moving the cartridge side to side while pulling out should remove the cartridge.

Step 6.
If your cartridge is still stuck, using vinegar as described in the Moen and Delta removal process should dissolve the stuck on minerals making your cartridge easy to remove with pliers or by hand.

What Do I Do if I Can’t Remove a Stuck Shower Cartridge?

If you have tried all the methods listed above and your cartridge is still stuck, you can try one more thing. This is a method of last resort as you will permanently damage your cartridge and possibly your valve.

  1. Using a half-inch tap, drill threads into the top of the cartridge sleeve.
  2. You want to drill threads at least halfway into the sleeve.
  3. You will then need a half-inch bolt, two nuts, and some washers.
  4. Screw the nuts up to the middle of the bolt and attach the washers.
  5. Then screw the bolt into the cartridge sleeve and tighten it.
  6. The pressure from the washers and bolt should make the cartridge pop out. Keep tightening the bolt until you can remove the cartridge.

If that method does not work for you, there is still one final, more harsh option available which is to saw off the valve stem right above the cartridge sleeve.

But this last option will require additional repairs to get your shower up and running again and is not something I would recommend.

Kyle Tucker

Kyle from Kyle Tucker Plumbing is a certified plumber with over 20 years of professional experience installing plumbing fixtures such as bathtubs, sinks, and toilets, as well as installing gas lines and water pipes, performing bathroom repairs, and more.

Kyle knows how to deal with every plumbing issue that modern homeowners encounter, and he shares his lifelong experience with readers in an engaging and easy-to-digest way.

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