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I have two bathrooms that have been completed in the last year. Both have the same Price Pfister rough-in valve. One is sticky and requires a bit of force to turn on the water (turns on by pulling). It actually has gotten worse over time. The other turns on with a gentle pull of handle. The plumber that installed the sticky one may have pulled out the cartridge and messed it up (rationale: because he messed up other things). I'm wondering if this sounds like something I might be able to fix or should I get a new cartridge? The valve in question is a Pfister 0X9 Brass Single Control.

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I'd get a new one. One can sometimes fix leaks, but not rough operation. It was more likely defective from the start than someone damaging it in such a way it affected smooth operation. – bcworkz Jun 12 '13 at 23:57
I finally got around to this. When I removed the cartridge one of the rubber o-ring seals popped off, so I'm fairly certain the o-ring was causing the friction, not being set properly. I did add some teflon grease to the contact points and now it's amazing how smooth it turns on. The grease was probably not necessary and I hope it won't degrade the o-rings over time. – Andrew Jun 30 '13 at 21:19
Misplaced O-ring? I guess I underestimated the ineptitude of some "plumbers". Glad it was an easy fix and you ignored my suggestion :) – bcworkz Jul 1 '13 at 1:54
Yeah, this handyman (recommended by realtor) turned the water back on before finishing sweating the pipes. It soaked the area pretty good for about 20 seconds. Fortunately it drained down the chase to the basement furnace room, so no damage, but I was not pleased. Good suggestion nonetheless! – Andrew Jul 6 '13 at 14:21
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I would try removing the cartridge and reinstalling it with a small amount of white lithium grease on the stem that connects to the handle. Work the grease in gently with your finger. If that doesn't free it up it was bad manufacturing which happens more often than one might think

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I have sanded out a few valves before. You would simply remove the cartridge and "sand" the inside of the valve housing. The sanding needs to be even, so try to work in a circular fashion. Just sanding out 1/500th of an inch might get rid of your stickiness. There is some grunt work in this and it takes about 20 mins per valve but has worked on everything I have had issues with. I have had people suggest plumber's grease too. I could never find any and sanding is cheap and non-invasive so I have gone that route.

I would initially treat a sticky valve the same way as a sticky door. You could even sand the cartridge but these usually have ribs in them and I don't know if I would trust myself doing this evenly. However a person with more artistic talent could certainly go this route given that it is faster.

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Are there any special tools required to remove the cartridge? Hopefully it's a problem with the cartridge since that can be replaced. I don't think I want to try sanding just yet but will keep in mind. – Andrew Jun 19 '13 at 18:41
Just pliers and a screwdriver usually. The cartridge itself will have a lot of parts that make it up. Make sure if you are taking apart the cartridge to take pictures on each step. I would really suggest sanding the valve, because your replacement cartridge might end up being the same thing you put in there. – DMoore Jun 19 '13 at 19:23

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