If you’re still pondering on how to replace a Moen shower valve cartridge or should you do it at all…
We get it! After all…
It’s designed to last for 30 years – or actually as long as half a century in some cases – homeowners have already proved Moen cartridges to be a lifetime investment.
But if your Moen shower is acting up lately and you think it’s not yet time to replace the whole system, you might just be in the right place.
…the problem could just be lying with the cartridge.
It might not be necessary to replace the whole system. And you certainly don’t have to splash out – pun intended – your cash on a plumber’s fee on something that can be done in fifteen minutes – or perhaps less.
Below are the generalized steps on how to replace your shower valve’s Moen cartridge, along with other useful titbits that you’ll definitely want to know along the way.
Table of Contents
Which Moen Cartridge Do I Need?
Before anything else, the very first step is to make sure that you know exactly what model and series your Moen shower valve cartridge is.
Living in an old house? Recently just moved in?
No problem. You can still track and find out the make of your cartridge by way of the following methods.
Your very first option would be the easiest one. All you have to do is look at the cartridge’s design and qualities and compare it to the Moen cartridges RIGHT HERE.
This is for those of you who aren’t really very technical and know next to nothing about plumbing replacement parts and whatnot.
On the other hand…
…if you want to be extra sure, just look at how the cartridge and the faucet handle operate.
We’ll mostly be looking at the most common Moen models here, which are Moen 1222 and Moen 1225.
You might also have heard about the 1222B and 1225B. There’s really not much difference. The latter set is sold in bulk nowadays.
Now, if your shower faucet handle can only be turned left and right with no volume control, you’re most likely dealing with a Moen 1222 shower valve cartridge.
On the flip side, if you have to pull your shower faucet handle out to turn on the water and twist it right and left to adjust the hot or cold water, then you’re most probably working with a Moen 1225 cartridge.
…knowing the year your shower system or faucet was installed greatly helps too.
This has something to do with the series and batch of the Moen cartridge. Older installations usually have the Moen 1222. But if it’s installed after 2009, you may need a 1225 model.
And best of all…
…in case you didn’t know, Moen offers either a 5-year warranty on their products or a limited lifetime warranty.
So the best you can do is to find your shower or faucet’s purchase documents (if you bought them yourself), confirm the model of your cartridge, and inquire with Moen regarding replacement parts.
Tools Needed for a Moen Shower Valve Cartridge Replacement
- New Moen cartridge
- A set of Allen wrenches
- Moen cartridge puller
- Vinegar or WD-40 for cleaning mineral deposits
- Plumber’s grease or lubricant
How to Replace a Moen Shower Faucet Cartridge
1. Turn Water Supply Off and Cover the Drains
To prepare for the job, turn the water supply off first.
While other water outlets, such as your dishwasher, toilet flush, or kitchen sink faucets, will most probably have water shutoffs, a Moen single-handle faucet will not.
That being said, you’ll have to turn the water supply line for the whole house off.
Personally, I prefer this instead of just shutting off the valves. I just wouldn’t want to risk having a sudden storm of scalding hot water being blasted in my face while I’m working on the faucet.
Some more advanced bathroom settings will have a panel where you can access water shutoffs for your Moen shower valve. You can just cut the water supply through this if you have it and if you don’t want to cut water for the whole house.
Once the water supply is turned off, turn your faucet on one more time just to release any water that’s stuck in the pipes.
And if you want to be extra safe…
… you can also wear goggles to protect your eyes from any unexpected water splash or debris.
And as a final preparation, make sure to plug or cover your shower or bathtub drain. Aside from catching any fallen debris from the wall, you can also lose your tiny components, such as screws, into the drain. So don’t skip this step!
2. Remove the Faucet Handle
Prepare your set of screwdrivers. Before unscrewing the handle, turn the handle upwards first as the screw is most likely located on its underside.
Using your Allen wrench or any fitting screwdriver that you have at hand, unscrew the handle and set it aside. Remember not to lose the screw.
But that’s not all.
After the handle, you’ll also see a few other components that you’ll have to remove as well.
The next one is the handle adaptor. Moen cartridge’s handle adaptor is made of plastic and is usually colored black. It’s also connected to the handle and the cartridge itself. Unscrew it and set it aside.
Next off is the anti-scald device. It’s another plastic piece that’s usually colored white.
This device controls and regulators your water temperature so that it comes out at a shower-perfect temperature that’s not scalding hot.
Pull them out and set them aside as well. These are two small components, so be careful not to break them when getting them out.
And lastly, for this step, remove the metal stop tube after the temperature stop. It should slide out easily without any need for tools.
In taking out these faucet components, you’ll most likely come across some labels from the manufacturer, such as “HC” or the ON indication.
Remember to take note of them and their positions because you’ll have to put them back exactly where they’re originally located later on.
3. Remove the Escutcheon (Optional)
This step is optional because it depends on your shower system and trim kit. Not all shower faucets need the escutcheon plate to be removed.
In case you’re wondering…
…an escutcheon is also sometimes called a flange or faceplate. It’s the metal plate that covers and conceals the unsightly hole that’s made from installing the pipes and the faucet.
It’s usually attached to the system with two screws on either side. Just unscrew them and check if the plate is caulked to the wall. If it is, just use a knife or anything thin and sharp to cut through the seal and prise it out of the wall.
If you’re having a hard time taking it out, you can try tapping it carefully until it loosens up.
On the other hand…
…you’ll need to remove a retaining clip next. So the removal of the escutcheon plate depends on the location of the retaining clip.
That being said, you can look for the clip this early on to see if you can access it and remove it without having to take out the escutcheon plate.
Now, if it’s located and installed in a way that it can’t be accessed with the plate on the wall, then you’ll definitely have to remove the plate first.
4. Remove the Cartridge
But before that, you’ll have to remove the tiny little thing called the retaining clip first.
A retaining clip is a small metal component that’s inserted across the cartridge to hold it and keep it from shifting or moving. Without this clip, your cartridge could easily move or, worse, slip out whenever the water pressure is strong.
You’ll usually see it sticking out on the upper side of the cartridge.
Using a pair of long-nose pliers or a small screwdriver, gently pull it out.
Remember: Be careful when doing this, especially if there’s a space or opening down below the shower wall hole. You can’t afford to lose this important piece as you’ll also have to put it back later on, and it would be a hassle to find a replacement.
So make sure to be careful so that it doesn’t fall and get lost forever.
After setting aside the retaining clip, it’s finally time for the main event – taking out the shower cartridge.
For this, you’d want to use a Moen cartridge puller or alternatively pliers with good grip.
There are two types of pullers. The first one is a small white plastic piece. Obviously, this is a cheaper option, but you’ll need another tool along with this, which is a pair of pliers.
Using the pliers, grip the plastic puller and slide it into the cartridge. Gently but firmly, twist it left and right until you feel the cartridge loosening up.
…remove the puller and use the pliers to pull the cartridge out from the wall, making sure that it’s as straight as when it was still installed.
You’ll also notice that there’s an “HC” label on the upside of the cartridge. Take note of this because it will have to be in the same position later on when you replace your cartridge.
As for the metal puller…
…it’s bigger and heavier than the plastic one.
This metal cartridge puller has its own handles to help you with wriggling the cartridge out of the wall.
While the cartridge is still installed within the wall, attach the nut and the metal puller over the cartridge. Tighten the nut and check the screw on the end of the puller.
The screw should be out and protruding.
After tightening the nut, twist the screw in with a screwdriver. Once the puller is completely attached to the cartridge, you can start twisting left and right to loosen it up.
After that warm-up, you can now pull the cartridge out very slowly but surely.
It might not come off instantly…
…which tends to worry some beginners. But don’t fret. Be patient while wriggling it out, and it will eventually come off.
How to Remove a Moen Cartridge Without a Cartridge Puller?
Okay, but what if I don’t have any of these cartridge pullers?
You can still definitely replace your shower cartridge without the Moen pullers!
All you need is your screwdriver and the handle of your faucet.
Yes, you’ve read that right…
…you’ll be using none other than your own faucet handle.
But before that, make sure that you’ve already removed the retaining clip first.
After that, you’ll be using your faucet handle the way the metal cartridge puller is used.
Get your screwdriver and simply screw the handle back over the cartridge without the metal tube and anti-scald device.
Yep, just the handle.
Once the handle is reattached, just turn it left and right – pretty much like with the metal puller- until the cartridge feels loose.
And that’s when you can finally pull the cartridge out.
What if the cartridge just won’t come out?
Now, that’s another thing altogether. Your shower valve cartridge must be stuck. Most likely, it’s because of mineral deposits that bound up the cartridge to its surroundings.
There are several ways to remedy this.
The first one is using your cartridge puller. Just simply twist left and right to break off any binding.
Then there’s the heat treatment method. You can use anything that can safely heat the valve so that anything that binds the cartridge to the wall would budge.
One of the most effective tools for this is a hair dryer. Just point it close to the cartridge until any washer that keeps the cartridge stuck melts or until the valve expands and causes the cartridge to be freed from its connection.
Aside from this…
…of course, how can we forget the good old vinegar?
Vinegar is known for effectively dissolving mineral buildups, so it can definitely help with a stuck cartridge, too.
You can put some in a spray bottle and spray it around the valve and the cartridge. Do it every ten to fifteen minutes or so for about one hour. Let it soak and dissolve all that dirt up!
After that, you should be able to loosen the cartridge up and eventually take it out.
5. Clean Mineral Deposits or Lime
Speaking of vinegar, its use doesn’t end in helping with the removal of your old cartridge. You can also use it in cleaning the shower valve itself.
Hard water is the main cause of corrosion and mineral buildup in shower valves. This causes your cartridge not only to get stuck but also keeps the new one from smoothly sliding into the valve body.
So before you put your new Moen cartridge in…
…make sure to clean the inside of the valve body first.
Again, you can use vinegar or even WD-40. You can use a spray bottle and a rag or any rough cloth soaked in these solutions and just simply scrub all the dirt away.
Like with the old cartridge removal, you can also soak the valve up for a few minutes before scrubbing.
6. Install the New Cartridge
Now that the valve is all cleaned up of mineral deposits, you can finally install your brand-new Moen cartridge.
Now, this is a very important step.
Make sure to lubricate the cartridge before sliding it in. Usually, Moen cartridge kits also come complete with a small packet of lubricant. It should be enough to coat the cartridge well.
Ensure to get the rubber parts, as they’re the most challenging parts to slide in.
For the final touches, make sure that the labels are in the right position before going in.
Remember the “HC” label? Make sure that it’s on the top side of the cartridge, just like how it was originally.
Next, there’s the brass shell at the center.
You’ll notice that it has the shape of a hexagon. The two flat sides should be lying horizontally. That means that the faucet is in the ON mode, just like how it was before you disassembled the faucet.
Skipping this may cause your faucet settings to get switched up.
Voila, now you can finally put it in.
But the challenge doesn’t end there.
Let’s just address this certain issue that has apparently bugged some people upon replacing their cartridges.
Listen up because it may really cause an annoying leak if you’re not careful.
Instinctively, most people tend to push the cartridge down to safety. The problem? They tend to push way too far down.
And once they realize that they messed up, they remedy it by pulling the cartridge back up!
Now, stop right there.
That’s the birth of your leaking problem right there.
Pulling way up hard causes the bottom end of the cartridge to slide out to the point that it’s not flush with the end’s surface anymore.
That’s actually the cause of many leaking problems without the owners knowing it.
But what’s done is done and if you happen to pull it up and mess with the cartridge, just unscrew it with the metal puller.
Screw the puller back in the cartridge and pull the protruding screw. It will then pull the other end along with it, finally closing up the cartridge and sealing it up once again.
You can now put your cartridge back in.
After making sure that it’s properly lubricated…
…push it into the valve carefully and patiently. Don’t do it in one quick go. It takes time, concentration, and patience.
7. Put the cover plate and retaining clip back on
Now we’re wrapping things up. Put the escutcheon back on with the screws.
You can screw one at a time or alternate between the two screws. I opt for the latter because it’s much easier, and it gives me better balance.
After that, you can also insert the retaining clip back into the cartridge.
Now, take note of this:
Apparently, putting back this clip is much trickier than taking it out. There are more chances of dropping it and losing it in the shower wall hole.
So what I do is I put it in a string (or a thread) and then proceed to put it back to the valve using pliers or a small screwdriver.
This way, I can still retrieve this very important clip if I happen to drop it into the hole accidentally.
8. Return the Components
Return the components in the reverse order of how you took them out earlier.
The metal tube or cylinder comes first. You don’t need any tool for it. Just simply slide it back up.
Next is the temperature stop. You can also adjust it if you want to change the warmth of your shower water (more on that in the next step).
Then, finally, comes the handle adaptor and the handle itself. Again, make sure that everything is returned to its former position. The handle should be facing upwards in the ON position.
Adjust the Moen Shower Water Temperature
We talked about the anti-scald device earlier. It’s also commonly called a temperature stopper or a temperature limit stop.
This little plastic contraption is composed of two pieces that are joined together through their teeth.
It’s used to regulate the temperature of your shower water so that it doesn’t come dangerously hot.
To adjust it…
…take the outer part of it and turn it counterclockwise if you want to increase your water temperature and clockwise to reduce it.
After that, just simply slide it back with its inner part along with the cartridge.
But if you’re fine with the temperature of your shower water prior to the cartridge replacement, then just place the stopper back in its original position.
9. Test your new cartridge
Before testing your new shower valve cartridge, don’t forget to turn the shower handle to the OFF position first.
After that, you can now open the main water supply or your water shutoffs.
You can now test the waters!
Observe the change in water temperature as well as the water pressure and see if they’re what you’re aiming for. Also testing your handheld or fixed shower head.
Just remember to stay alert and careful of scalding hot water when testing your new cartridge.
CONCLUSION: How to Replace a Moen Shower Valve Cartridge
It’s a wonder how Al Moen designed his shower fixtures the same way the company first did all those years ago.
This brand is indeed confident in standing behind its design and quality that, in fairness, lasts for generations.
But that doesn’t mean that they’re indestructible.
Regular checkups and maintenance are also important if you want to pass your boast-worthy Moen shower to your children.
And don’t forget:
Keep the papers tucked away safely! You or your family will definitely need them in the future. Keep the receipt and the model number, and they’ll thank you later.
Aside from making life much easier and more comfortable, a good working shower cartridge also ensures your family’s safety right when you need it.