How to Fix a Leaky Delta Shower Faucet


If your Delta shower faucet is leaking, you want to get it fixed as quickly as possible. That’s true even if the leak isn’t in the way, because leaks can cause additional damage to your faucet. And, that’s without considering the (normally large) added cost of a leak on your water bill. 

In most cases, if your Delta shower faucet is leaking when turned off, the issue is caused by the cartridge. Replacing the cartridge, the O rings, or the springs could fix the issue. 

However, you might also be able to simply tighten some screws if your valves have come loose. Best of all, this job should take you less than half an hour.

How to Fix a Leaky Delta Shower Faucet In 7 Steps

Fixing a leaking shower cartridge is normally a relatively simple job. The hardest part should be finding a replacement cartridge. 

In addition, you might have to look for the access panel for your shower. However, that should be relatively easy, especially if your faucet just has a visible screw. 

Tools & Materials List:

The first step to fixing a leaky Delta faucet will be to figure out the make and model and buy a replacement valve. Here, the valve is normally sold in a cartridge which you can simply take out and replace. 

Once you have the replacement part, you can get started. 

  • Flat screwdriver
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Allen wrench set/hex key set 
  • Pipe wrench or strap wrench 
  • Replacement cartridge
  • Replacement O-rings
  • Plumber’s grease 

If you have it on hand, the manual for your shower faucet is also handy. That will tell you exactly how to open the faucet up to access the cartridge. However, it’s normally quite straightforward to do so without the manual as well. 

1. Turn off the Water 

The first step to working on your water lines is always to turn off the water.

Here, you may or may not have a separate water shutoff for your bathroom. If you do, it may be behind the toilet, next to the washing machine, behind the shower wall, or in an access cupboard in the bathroom or on the other side of the wall. 

However, most houses in the U.S. don’t have a separate shower shutoff. In this case, you’ll have to turn off your main water line. 

Find the main shutoff valve and turn it to the off position. Then, run your shower until water stops coming out. You’ll normally want to use a towel to dry the tub after.

Then, plug the drain in case you drop screws so you don’t lose them. 

2. Remove the Faucet Cover 

Take a flat screwdriver and slide it under the lip on the cover panels for your faucet handle. Keep in mind that if you have a lever handle, it probably doesn’t have a cover. 

Gently pry the cap up until it pops off. Set it aside somewhere where you won’t lose it, like the bathroom sink. 

3. Remove the Handle 

Most Delta faucets have either a Philips screw or a hex/Allen key. If you have a lever handle, you’ll most likely need an Allen wrench. 

Here, you can turn the lever handle upside down or access it from underneath. There should be a single hex key holding it in place. Rotate the key out and set the screw aside where you won’t lose it. 

If you have a handle faucet, it most likely has #1 Phillips (type one) screw holding it in place. Take this screw out and set it aside where you won’t lose it.

Gently wiggle and pull the handle to get it off. The older your shower faucet, the more difficult removing the handle will be. 

Additionally, most Delta faucets are single handle. If you have to fix a leak in a two-handle faucet, you’ll have to take off both handles. Then, slide the bridge out, in the same way you would the single faucet. In this case, you’ll likely have a third screw underneath the fixture. 

4. Take out the Cartridge 

Inspect the opening under the handle. You should see a white, mostly circular piece of plastic. Pull it out and set it aside with the other parts. 

Then, test to see if you can twist the cartridge ring out with your hands. If so, take it out. 

If you can’t, you’ll want to gently use a pipe wrench or a strap wrench to turn the ring out. This part gets easily damaged. Therefore, you may want to buy a replacement in advance. 

Here, the best practice is to loosen the ring with a tool and then finish twisting it out with your hands. 

From there, you can gently wiggle the cartridge and pull it towards you. You will get a bit wet doing this, so wear clothing or shoes that can be wet. 

5. Inspect the Shower Valve

Take some time to inspect the cartridge, the seat, and the springs. You’ll also want to look at the O-rings. Finally, look further into the handle to see if the leak is coming from the diverter. 

In most cases, leaks simply occur as shower valves wear out. If you can see where the leak is coming from, you can avoid having to take the shower apart again. 

It’s also a good idea to clean out the old cartridge. If it’s full of lime or buildup, that may be the cause of the issue. Corrosion, debris, and worn-out seals will all result in leaks. 

6. Install the Replacement Cartridge 

Step out of the shower and close the door or the shower curtain. Turn the water back on for about 15-30 seconds. This will flush any debris out of the pipes, preventing them from immediately clogging your new cartridge. 

Apply plumbers’ grease from your Delta shower repair kit or that you purchased separately. This should go on the new O rings that come with the cartridge. Grease ensures your cartridge seals rather than leaks. 

Align the cartridge with the hot and cold lines on your shower. All Delta shower cartridges are marked. Usually with H/C stamps. 

Then, push the cartridge into the faucet. Make sure the indentations on the valve body align with the indentations on the cartridge. 

Hand tighten the cartridge ring back over the cartridge. You may have to use the old one you took out if your new kit doesn’t come with a new one. 

Replace the sleeve. You’ll want to put it in the spacer side first. That’s the wider side with the gap. 

Finally, adjust the plastic piece at the tip of the cartridge to your anti-scald settings. You can check your old cartridge or a diagram in your user’s manual to be sure. 

7. Put the Faucet Back Together 

From there, you can go about putting your faucet handle back on. To do so, simply slide it back into place. Insert and tighten any screws.

Then, make sure you replace the caps. 

How do you identify a delta shower faucet model? 

Almost all Delta shower faucets have an ID number or part number on one of the lines leading into the faucet. To access this, you can open up your shower, remove the cartridge, and look at the lines. There should be a tag. 

If you have a very old Delta faucet, you won’t have a part number. For example, if your faucet is older than 2012, it won’t have a part number on the faucet. 

Keep in mind, that if you do have a part number on the faucet, it’s on a tag on one of the supply lines. That means you’ll want to jump ahead to the instructions and take the panel off your faucet to access it. 

Chances are, you also won’t have the box. If you do, the part number is always on the box. 

If you don’t have either, you can use Delta’s replacement part selection tool. Alternatively, you can take a photo of your shower faucet or just the cartridge and compare it to replacement valves at the hardware store. 

In addition, Delta Faucets in Canada has a shower faucet identifier, these are the same models sold in the U.S., so you can use it to identify which cartridge you already have.

What if my shower faucet is still leaking after replacing the cartridge? 

If your Delta shower faucet is still leaking after replacing the cartridge, you probably have a faulty valve. This may mean you have to replace the full faucet or the shower valve body. 

To do so, you’ll have to cut an access panel into your wall. After turning the water off, removing the shower handles and the cartridge, and accessing the valve you can easily remove the valve. 

Here, you’ll need a pair of needle-nose pliers to pull the clip out of the top of the valve. Simply pull it out, straight up to avoid damaging it. 

Then, use pliers or a pipe wrench to wriggle the old valve out of the pipes. If you intend to re-use the valve, use lubricant and wrap the pipe in a cotton cloth first – to reduce damage. Unfortunately, some valve bodies will have up to four pipes leading in and out. These may be glued in place. Therefore, you may have to cut and replace the pipe as well. 

Once you have the old valve out, you can insert the new one. Make sure the new valve is the same size as the old one. 

Then, slide the pin back into place, put your shower back together, and test to see if it still leaks. If it does still leak, you’ll need a completely new shower assembly. 

Unfortunately, shower valve bodies are expensive and difficult to replace. If you go through the trouble of detaching the valve body from the pipes, it may be simpler to replace the full faucet. This ensures you won’t have to repeat the work in case the faucet still leaks.

Conclusion 

There are plenty of reasons a Delta shower faucet might start to leak. However, the most common fix is to simply replace the cartridge. Otherwise, you might have a leak in the valve body or in the housing. In either of the two latter cases, it may be better to replace the faucet. 

Good luck fixing your leaking shower faucet.

Brandy Cross

Brandy is a freelance writer with a background and strong interest in DIY and home repair, stemming from her childhood and days spent helping her dad who worked as a handyman. Today, she's renovating an apartment she shares with 100+ houseplants.

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