How to Fix a Delta Shower Faucet Leak

Delta Shower ValveWhen you are a landlord, you can either hire out all the maintenance, or do some of them yourself.  I do much of it myself, and it saves a TON of money.  When you are in doubt about how to fix an item, odds are, there is someone out there, with a YouTube video, who has dedicated their life to helping you fox the issue.

This bit of maintenance to fix a shower faucet leak started simple enough.  It was a quick text by a tenant saying her bathtub faucet was leaking.  Then a phone call.  When you get a text and phone call, it becomes a bit more serious…

The tenant said her bathtub/shower faucet would not shut off.  It worked, but when it shut off, the water would still run.  I immediately assumed it was a drip, and she said it was more than a drip.  It was not the full force of water, but more than a drip.  I asked her if it was leaking before today, and she said no.  She said she had to close the bathroom door the previous evening so she could sleep at night, as it was a bit loud.  “Yikes, this could be bad” was in my head.

So, a leaking shower valve.  Not really a big deal; they can be a 5-minute job, or a larger pain.  When you have people in a unit, a larger pain can potentially become an emergency pain.  So I was just a bit concerned, but not overly.

Water leaking is costing you money.  Even if it is going right down the drain.  If it was going on the floor, and coming through the downstairs apartment ceiling, even worse.  When I got there a couple of hours later, the tenant was not home and she had already given me permission to fix the issue.

Prior to leaving my house, I looked up my key code that I had on file with her, and brought the right entry key.  This is important.  I log all my keys in a spreadsheet and stamp all the “do not duplicate” keys with a unique code.  I have a label above each lock, which is also moved with the lock when I change locks.  All my locks are Schlage, I have only one type of lock.  All use the same blanks, so I can cut my own keys easily.  If you do not have the right equipment, tools, apartment keys, etc., a simple job can quickly last all day.

I loaded a couple of tools from my home toolbox that I use to replace Moen shower valves.  I knew that it was a Moen shower valve, so on my way over, I stopped at Home Depot and picked up a new valve stem.  Home Depot is about half-way between my rentals and my home, and I pass right by it, so it is easy to stop there.

This is an inexpensive fix, less than $20 for a Moen valve stem.  If it goes easy, it takes about 10 minutes, likely less.  If it if going to require an entirely new shower valve, it may take several hours.

The access panel for this shower valve in these type of units is behind the kitchen cabinets, and it takes crawling through a three-foot tunnel in the lower cabinet to get to it.  This is the only unit that I have not remodeled and changed the shower valve.  When I was replacing kitchen cabinets in other units, I made sure to change the shower valve.  It was easy without cabinets and counter tops.  I had my fingers crossed…

When I arrived, I noticed that the water was a steady stream, probably about a gallon every 3-4 minutes.  Not too bad, but certainly not good.  360 gallons of water a day, for only a day will not break me, but will add up quickly if it goes on for a month.  I also saw that it was hot water, so it was also causing my tenants gas bill to increase.  That is not my expense, but I do not want to address that issue either.

The second thing I noticed was that it was a Delta shower valve, not a Moen valve.  I was all set for Moen, and now I have the wrong tools and the wrong replacement cartridge.  Luckily, there were no women or small children around.  I have never fixed a Delta valve, so I have to overcome that hurdle too.  This is turning out to be a bit more work than I wanted.

I scrambled back to Home Depot, which is only about a mile away, and ask the plumbing guy what I needed.  I had a few pictures on my cell phone to make sure I could get the right part.  He pointed me to the right repair kit, and explained the method to change them.  He did suggest I could get by with less parts, sine some of the parts that I needed to take off would likely still be good.  I bought the repair kit consisting of several seals and springs, and also purchased the ball that fits up against these seals.  The expense of a rental repair is getting over there, and doing the actual work, the expense of the parts is inconsequential.

Tip: ALWAYS bring pictures to the store when you are buying parts, there may be several different types of replacement parts and this could save you lots of time.

ClutterI attempted to shut the water off to only the shower valve.  I had to remove multiple pots, pans, shelves, plastic storage containers, and other stuff that has not been seen by a human being in years, etc. to begin my crawl under the kitchen cabinet; it was a wasted effort.  The gate valves were frozen from lack of use.  Crank a wrench on a frozen gate valve, and you may be replacing that valve too.  Or it might work.  Or it may just leak.  So I shut the water off in the entire 4-plex.  Luckily two tenants were out, so it was not a big deal.

Delta Shower Valve
Remove Chrome Ring

When making the fix, I had a difficult time removing the chrome ring over the top of the valve.  It is a beauty ring, but still an integral part of the valve.  Scratching it is not going to affect its performance, but breaking it means another trip to the store.  Twisting the valve too much and breaking the actual valve or causing a leak, and you need a new shower valve and now have an emergency.

 

CAM00992
Replace the two seals and springs

So I went to my smart phone and googled a bit.  4G is great, although not as good as a home line.  You have to be patient.  After a few minutes, I found someone that had dedicated their life to helping me on YouTube.  He said to bang on the sides of the ring, and it will break loose.  I banged what I though was quite a bit, and pretty hard, but still no luck.  I tried harder, and more, and it finally broke free.  All the years of hard water seemed to make the threads a bit tight, the lime needed to be broken loose.  And there is no way to see the threads without taking it off.

 

CAM00994
Here are the old parts

I carefully removed the ring, disassembled the parts and replaced them.  All in all, maybe a 5-minute fix, but now I had about an hour+ into the job.  I turned the water back on, and tested the functionality of the valve.  Perfect fix.  I then texted the other tenants in the building that the water was back on.  I texted my tenant that the valve was fixed, and she would have to put back all the pots, pans, plastic containers…  I even sent her the picture of the stuff I had to remove.

 

My actual cost for this fix was about $20.10, plus about an hour’s worth of time.  If I had the right part to begin with, it would have been about 15 minutes.  It saved probably $200+ if I hired a plumber.  It was also faster with me doing it, a plumber might have scheduled it for a different day.  It was a Saturday, so maybe it would have been an extra charge if they came that same day.

What repairs have you done recently?  Have you ever fixed a leaky faucet?

 

 

15 Replies to “How to Fix a Delta Shower Faucet Leak”

  1. Yay! A how-to-fix-it post! Those are my favorite. 🙂 I have had to replace faucets before, but not shower valves. I did learn the difference between a mixer valve and a diverter valve by buying the wrong part once. Oops.

    YouTube is amazing. I used it this weekend to fix the aux jack in my car by soldering two connections together. I never would have figured out how to fix it without YouTube. It’s a game changer for DIY landlords.

    I hope to become as brave as you when it comes to plumbing. Some of it doesn’t scare me, but a lot of it still does.

    1. Great to hear from you again! I like to post the fix-it posts, but hate to go through the experience of getting them.

      I updated the post after I published it (in error, too early…), be sure to refresh the post.

      YouTube has save me a lot. Especially when I am on the spot and want to verify what I am thinking is correct.

  2. Thanks for sharing Landlord. I haven’t gotten a crack at a diverter ball valve replacement yet. I was going to do a tub valve until I realized it was a 30 year old Delta…..and decided to just replace. Mineral deposits can be a bitch.

    My plumbing buddy told me that Moen fixtures have a lifetime warranty. As such, he supposedly gets them to send him replacement faceplates and valve balls. In your case, they may reimburse if you send them the pictures above with a copy of the receipt and model number. They may not, but it could be worth $20.
    -Bryan

    1. Thanks for reading Bryan!

      This was a 30 year old valve.

      The faucet I fixed was a Delta, no lifetime warranty. If I was going to do a remodel, I would change it to a Moen. I have gotten parts from Moen, all free. They are a great company.

  3. I am pretty handy, but these kinds of repairs scare me. Only because I’ve never done one before. I have Delta faucets at my home, so I am considering opening them up and replacing parts just to get the experience. I’m sure my rentals are all different. I haven’t replaced any yet. I like the idea of working with one brand so you know it inside and out, backwards and forwards. That will have to come with time though; I’m not replacing items that aren’t broken yet.

    Post idea: If you haven’t already done so (in which case, you can point me to it), maybe you could write a post about which brands/models you use on different things around your units and why you chose them. I know you like Tappan ranges and Moen faucets. What about toilets? AC units? Water heaters? A post like that would be very interesting and helpful.

  4. I like your tip about always taking pictures when buying parts. I tell prospective landlords to do as much themselves as they are comfortable doing. Interior painting, replacing locks and yard work are within the abilities of most landlords. But if you can’t paint a wall without slopping paint all over the floor or drive a nail straight, find someone to do it for you.

    Thanks

    George Lambert
    Author, What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord. How to build a portfolio of investment properties for an income that lasts a lifetime.

  5. Happy New Year,

    I had to do this a couple of times. It’s the joy/pain of owning a 4000+sqft home with 6 bathrooms LOL 🙂

    sometimes when I can’t fix it, I hire somebody, but majority of the time, youtube does a great job as a teacher.\

    1. Thanks for reading!

      WOW, if you have six bathrooms in your house, you must have a bunch of servants too! Living in a small house, I only have 1.5 baths, and one never gets used. There is some satisfaction knowing you can fix things without having to call someone, and saving the money is a great bonus.

  6. Must be that time of year! We just fixed a shower this weekend that you had to crank to turn off, we took a bit longer than the hour you put it in, but it was fixed just the same. What we originally thought was the little plastic piece for the stop valve kit, also needed the Posi-Temp Pressure Balanced Shower Cartridge, which both in total cost us around $65 combined, but saving the labor of $100-$200 and the accomplishment of doing it felt awesome. NNL, I also would love to have you do the FI interview on my site, especially as you are getting so close.

  7. My delta kitchen faucet was dripping. I replaced the springs, grommets, ball, ball cover silver plastic thing. Still leaking.

    My solution after many attempts. I only replaced the springs and spring grommets. All else I used old parts.

    I used genuine Delta parts from an authorized dealer. Part number 0-2999. Not sure what’s my model number for my sink though.

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