Shower Faucet Won't Turn Off All The Way? (Try This Fix!)

Kellan Jansen
by Kellan Jansen
A shower faucet that doesn’t turn off can be costing your money and patience. This is generally due to your faucet’s cartridge, and you may need to replace it. Follow along as we explore the simple solution to a shower faucet that won’t turn off all the way.

Keeping your shower working properly is an important part of ensuring that you and your family get the most out of your home. Doing so will ensure that your family is able to look after their hygiene without having to worry about pesky plumbing issues.

That’s why it can be so frustrating to have a shower faucet that doesn’t turn off all the way. This often starts as an annoyance but can quickly turn into a serious problem when left unattended.

If your shower faucet isn’t turning off all the way, you may be able to fix the problem by replacing the faucet’s cartridge. To do this, you need to turn off the water, remove the faucet’s handles, remove the old cartridge, and then replace it with a new one. More complete instructions for this process are included below.

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Why Does it Matter if a Shower Faucet Won’t Turn Off?

The first time you notice that a shower faucet isn’t turning off, you may not feel like you actually need to fix the issue. Maybe there isn’t much water coming out so you don’t feel all that concerned about the problem.

However, it’s absolutely important that you fix a shower faucet that doesn’t turn off as soon as possible. There are a few reasons for this.

First, if your faucet doesn’t turn off, that means that water is always running through it. Even a little bit of water, when constantly running, can increase your utility bill significantly. Thus, you could find that you have to pay an extra $50, $100, or $200 on your next bill — even if the amount of running water doesn’t seem to be all that much.

Another issue that you need to consider is where that water is going. It’s possible that some of the water is leaking out into parts of your home that it could seriously damage. This can lead to costly repairs and even mold.

For each of these reasons, you shouldn’t neglect your shower faucets that aren’t turning off. Instead, use the instructions below to fix the problem before it turns into something more serious.

Why Won’t My Shower Faucet Turn Off?

You may be having this issue for a few different reasons. One of the most common reasons why a shower faucet isn’t turning off is because of a problem with the faucet’s cartridge.

A cartridge is a device that stops water and controls the amount of cold or hot water that comes out of a faucet. The cartridge in your faucet performs an important role. When it isn’t working properly, the faucet not turning off all the way is one of the clearest signs of that.

Cartridge naturally wears out over time and needs to be replaced when that happens. That’s why, if you haven’t replaced your faucet’s cartridge in a while, it’s like that this is the problem.

If you’ve already tried replacing your faucet’s cartridge and are still having this issue, it’s likely a sign that there’s an issue with another part of the faucet. You might trace the problems back to a damaged stem end, cracked faucet handles, or debris stuck somewhere in the system.

Materials Needed for a Cartridge Replacement

The first fix you should try is to replace your shower’s cartridge. You won’t need many materials to do this. Here’s a complete list of what you should gather before starting the job:

  • Screwdriver
  • Vice grip
  • Replacement cartridge

Fixing a Shower Faucet That Won’t Shut Off

Once you’ve gathered the materials shown in the previous section, you’re ready to get started on the project. Here’s a step-by-step guide that you can follow to make replacing your cartridge easier.

  • Start by shutting off your water. You need to turn off your main water valve so that there’s no water running into your home while you work.
  • Double-check that your water is shut off before starting. You can do this very easily by simply turning on a faucet and seeing if any water comes out.
  • Close your shower drain. You can do this however you normally plug up your bathtub if your shower is a shower/bath combo. If not, you can place a towel or cloth over the drain to get the job done.
  • Remove the faucet’s handles. Do this by locating the small screws on your faucet’s handles and using your screwdriver on them.
  • Remove the screw holding the cartridge in place. You should be able to do this with the same screwdriver that you used in step four. Once you’ve loosened the cartridge and the plastic turning device, you can slide them off.
  • Remove the clip that holds the cartridge in place. Make sure that you don’t inadvertently throw this part away. You’re going to need it while installing your shower’s replacement cartridge.
  • Remove the cartridge. This is what you need your vice clamps for. Use them to clamp the cartridge and pull. Be sure to work carefully, as applying too much pressure could damage important pipes.
  • Prepare the new cartridge for installation. Your new cartridge should have come with a special lube. You can put this inside of it for a smoother installation process.
  • Insert the new cartridge and reassemble the parts. As you do this, you need to make sure that both the hot and cold sections of the cartridge line up in the same way that the old one did. Once you’ve done this, you can go ahead and reassemble the pieces that you’ve disassembled to get to this point. Use the screwdriver to make sure they’re as secure as possible.
  • Turn the water back on. Simply twist your home’s main water valve into the on position to do this.
  • Test your shower. Finally, turn your shower off and on and see if the water has stopped coming out when the faucet is in the off position. If that’s what’s happening, then congratulations, you’ve fixed your faucet problem.

Other Fixes to Try

Hopefully, the instructions listed in the previous section were enough to fix your faucet. If they weren’t, that’s okay. There are still a few other things you can try to fix the problems you’ve been having. Here’s an overview of each of them.

Try Tightening the Faucet Handle’s Screws

Sometimes the fix to a shower faucet that doesn’t turn off is as easy as this. You can use a flat-blade screwdriver to get underneath the cover plate and reveal the handle screw. Simply use the screwdriver to tighten that screw and see if that gets the job done.

Examine Your Faucet Stem for Damages

To do this, you’ll first need to remove the faucet’s handle. Once you have, you should locate the stem tip’s ridges. If these are worn down, then it’s possible that your faucet handle isn’t able to tighten enough around the stem to shut the water off. If you believe that this is your problem, then you can fix it by replacing the ridges with new ones.

Look for Cracks in Your Faucet’s Handles

It’s also possible that your issue is related to a crack in your faucet’s handles. You need to remove the handle from the faucet to check for this. Simply look inside the handle to see if you can find any cracks. If you see some, then it’s time to install a new faucet handle to see if that fixes your problem.

Clear the Faucet’s Stem End of Debris

This is one last thing you can try to fix your shower faucet on your own. You can do this by using an old toothbrush and rag to wipe the stem dry.

When is it Time to Call a Plumber?

It’s difficult to admit defeat when working on a home improvement project like this one. However, that may be exactly what you need to do if you’re unable to figure out what’s causing your faucet to not turn off all the way.

We recommend trying each of the fixes we’ve listed above before calling a plumber. If you’ve tried those and are still having the same problem with your faucet, then the cause is likely something that’s going to be difficult for anyone other than a professional to detect.

Do You Need a Faucet, Fixture, or Pipe Repair or Replacement?

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Related Questions

Is it hard to replace a faucet?

If you’ve never replaced a faucet before, you may be wondering if you’re capable of doing so on your own. However, the process isn’t as complicated as you might think. Even novice DIYers should be able to tackle this project with just the tools they already have around home.

How much does it cost to replace a faucet?

You also have the option of calling a professional to replace your faucet for you if you don’t want to do the job yourself. Your charges will depend on your location. However, the national average price for professional faucet replacement is $150.

How long does it take to replace a faucet?

This will depend on how skilled you are at doing this kind of work. If you know what you’re doing, you shouldn’t expect to have to spend more than 10-15 minutes on replacing a faucet. If you don’t, it could take you as long as a few hours to get the job done.

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Kellan Jansen
Kellan Jansen

Kellan is a content writer who specializes in everything DIY. When he's not behind the keyboard, he enjoys spending time with his pets, playing music, and geeking out about basketball. He hopes to make your home improvement projects a little bit easier to accomplish.

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