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How to Fix a Leaking Kohler Shower Valve

Kohler is a very dependable brand well worth using. But when it comes to shower valves, a popular brand name will not save them from inevitable leaks.

When a Kohler shower valve begins leaking, the problem usually lies with the mixing cartridge. A less likely, but still possible cause is the valve itself is faulty. These shower valves are not too difficult to fix when using authentic replacement parts.

While replacing a Kohler mixing cartridge is not too complicated, it can confuse those who have never replaced one before.

You shouldn’t let a leak fester as it will lead to other problems, so you should fix your leaking shower valve as soon as possible.

kohler shower handle

Why Is My Kohler Shower Valve Leaking?

Mixing Cartridge

Kohler shower valves rely on mixing cartridges to give you the proper combination of hot and cold water.

A cartridge cracking, giving out, improperly installed, or otherwise failing is the most widely seen reason why a Kohler valve leaks.

A leaky showerhead that continues to drip for many hours after you stop using it usually means your mixing cartridge was not sealed properly.

Mixing cartridges usually need to be replaced when they cause leaks. But sometimes, just removing the cartridge and putting it back in properly can solve the problem.

Faulty, Damaged, or Worn Out Parts

Though it is very rare, you may have received a faulty shower valve from the manufacturer. But more often than not, your shower valve cracked, was damaged, or just wore out with time.

Shower valves generally last between 20 to 30 years, so it may need to be replaced if yours is very old.

A malfunctioning shower valve can cause leaks and wreak havoc with your water temperature and water pressure.

It’s Important to note that sometimes a shower valve leak will occur behind your wall. Unfortunately, these leaks are tough to spot until it is too late and usually result in mold or water damage.

Replacing a worn-out shower valve requires some serious plumbing work and is usually best left to professionals.

How to Stop a Kohler Shower Valve from Leaking

Tools & Products You Will Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Allen Wrench
  • Plumbers Wrench
  • Pliers
  • Utility Knife
  • Cloth or Rag
  • Kohler Cartridge Removal Tool (if needed)
  • Replacement Kohler Cartridge


Replacing a Bad Mixing Cartridge

  1. Turn Off Your Water Supply

You will have to turn off your water supply as attempting this job while the water is on will leave you soaking wet.

Your water shut-off valve will be located in different places from home to home. You can usually find it outside near the water meter or in the basement. If you live in a mobile home, it’s usually underneath the unit.

Your shower may have its own shut-off valve, allowing the rest of your home to have running water while you work.

Before removing anything, it’s always best to put a cloth or rag over your drain to prevent anything from falling down there.

  1. Remove the Handle

Turn your shower’s handle to ensure your water is turned off.

To remove the handle, you will need to find the screw that affixes it to the cover plate and cartridge assembly. In most Kohler units, the screw is underneath the handle and requires an Allen wrench to remove.

Once the screw is removed, you can then pull back on the handle to remove it.

Some units have no screws at all and require you to turn the housing between the handle and plate counter-clockwise, which will remove the handle and plate, allowing you to skip ahead to step 4.

  1. Remove the Cover Plate

The cover plate will have Phillips screws on the face of the plate that you can remove with a screwdriver. Then using a flathead screwdriver, you should be able to pry the plate off your wall.

If the plate does not easily come off your wall, it’s likely because somebody foolishly used caulking on the inside of the cover plate.

If that’s the case, you can use a utility knife to remove the caulking along with the cover plate.

  1. Remove the Cartridge

With the handle and cover plate removed, you now have access to your mixing cartridge.

There will be a few more screws to remove that hold the handle bracket in place. With the bracket removed, you can remove the cartridge with pliers or usually by hand.

If you are having trouble with a stuck cartridge, you may need to contact Kohler with your cartridge model number to get a cartridge removal tool. But in most cases, that is not necessary.

  1. Install and Test Your New Cartridge

After installing your new cartridge and replacing the cover plate and handle, turn back on your water supply, run your shower and see if the leak went away.

If your leaking valve persists after changing the cartridge, you should contact a professional plumber to inspect and possibly replace your valve.


How do I identify my Kohler shower valve?

Behind your cover plate, there should be the stamp of the letter K. Coverplates trim and handles only work with certain shower valves. There should be a K and a dash on the valve itself, followed by a combination of letters and numbers that indicate your valve’s series and style.

How long is the warranty on Kohler shower valves?

Kohler warranties are applied differently to some of their products. But in most cases, Kholer warranties are for 3 or 5 years, depending on how the product is used.

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.

About Loo Academy

At Loo Academy, our mission is to offer trusted advice for everything related to bathrooms (design ideas, plumbing advice, showering & bathing tips, remodeling guides, and more) — a place where we all spend a great deal of time.

We work closely with qualified experts and follow a thorough editing and fact-checking process before publishing content.

Published content is regularly fact-checked and revised so that the information we provide is accurate and up-to-date.

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