I don't see how to remove this stem valve. It fits into this brass pipe which is not a collar--it is entirely round, and I tackled it with channel lock pliers and quite a bit of force, and it did not budge. My next thought is the stem valve simply pulls out, which is tricky. One hardware store salesman suggested vice grips & a hammer. The other suggested extracting the rubber washer with a dental pick and he thought there might be a collar underneath that I could use a shower stem socket on.

As a new user I can't insert images, so here are the links to the pictures.

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • Perhaps the stem itself can be unscrewed? Dec 31, 2012 at 15:19
  • Oh - did you depressurize the system before trying to remove the brass pipe that you say isn't a collar? I've tried to remove collars that were under pressure before and it's nigh impossible. Dec 31, 2012 at 15:20
  • I turned the water off at the main and at the water heater. There is no shutoff valve for the shower. Is that what you mean?
    – melalvai
    Dec 31, 2012 at 15:21
  • After you shut off the water, did you open other taps? If you did not, the system can still be under pressure. Dec 31, 2012 at 15:22
  • 1
    Can you pull the rubber washer away somehow? I had a price pfister shower fixture that looked similar to this, and the valves were held in by collars which you can loosen with a shower socket wrench. If you can identify the maker you can usually find an expanded assembly diagram online. Jan 1, 2013 at 1:19

2 Answers 2


The plumber came out today and showed me how to remove it. The Evil Greebo was right, the stem itself unscrewed. The plumber took off the handle and escutcheon, then put the handle knob back on to further unscrew the stem. He did this very slowly and used a lot of force. He had a lot of difficulty with the cold, and that is the one I had started with, so it is not surprising I was doubtful of this being the way it was supposed to work.

The plumber thinks it is Sterling, because those were popular around here years ago and they were low cost, the type that someone would put in the downstairs shower.

  • In my old house I had old Sterling stems that looked exactly like this and had to be removed the same way. I did find replacements at an old plumbing supply store.
    – SchwartzE
    Feb 6, 2013 at 20:31

Had similar situation... with the diverter on a Sterling three handle fixture. I wasn’t able to get a plumbing socket wrench inside the escutcheon sleeve, and I didn’t have a mechanic’s deep socket long enough to remove the valve stem. I was seaching for special tool options, when I found this thread. Decided to do as the plumber and use the handle... only, the molded plastic where the threads fit had crumbled away. So couldn’t use the handle. Instead, I used a pipe wrench to slowly turn the stem... and to my surprise, the end snapped off:

enter image description here

I was then able to use a ratchet wrench with a 2” long, six point, 5/8” socket to remove the rest of the valve. It wasn’t a perfect fit, but it worked.

  • When in doubt, break it off! For those contemplating attempting this method, it might be better to cut the stem on purpose instead of hoping it breaks in a useful place.
    – FreeMan
    Dec 6, 2021 at 17:32

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.