We have a half bath in our detached garage.

(The shower has not been used for 6 years. I had to take off plastic handle and use a wrench to turn the water on. And when I did, brown water ran for a minute. Hopefully I didn’t get Legionnaire’s disease. :) )

I had to take off the plastic handle because when I tried to turn it, it basically started spinning loosely in place. I think the internal plastic threads were stripped by the metal threads of the cartridge stem(? don’t know if that is what it’s called)

Also, I can’t turn the lever that controls the mixing of the hot and cold.

Here’s are some pictures. cartridge cap lever

What are my options?

I know I need a new handle.

What about the stuck hot/cold? I tried some WD-40 on it and it helped a little bit. But it is still really tough to turn. I’m pretty sure that if someone tried using the plastic lever, the plastic would break.

  • 1
    I think it has gum built-up inside. Maybe try spray vinegar, see whether it will soften.
    – r13
    Oct 3, 2021 at 1:46

1 Answer 1


Turn off your water to the shower and disassemble the valve parts. Soak everything in a decalcifying cleaner. Vinegar may do it as well. You'll need to pull the cartridge. Given the state of calcification in the pics you might need to buy a valve puller to remove it. They aren't expensive and your local homestore should have one.
After cleaning everything you'll get a good idea of what you can salvage and what needs replacing. My guess is you'll need a new valve cartridge. If you can identify the make of the valve you might be able to get what you need online. Most manufacturers have 800 numbers with good tech support to help you.
If worse comes to worse you may have to buy and install a new valve.

  • When research cartridges, etc. I keep seeing retaining clips...I don't see any in my installation. Is it caulked over or behind the wall?
    – milesmeow
    Oct 3, 2021 at 3:23
  • In the picture where the plate is removed...Is the big 'nut' (the one closest to the silver cylinder) part of the cartridge? What is that silver cylinder? Is the cylinder threaded on the inside?
    – milesmeow
    Oct 3, 2021 at 3:26
  • Researching some more and (in the picture that shows caulking) I think that the cartridge is the piece that is inserted into the silver tube. And it's basically a friction fit...so when you suggested a cartridge puller, it basically will pull it from the silver cylinder. Is that the case here?
    – milesmeow
    Oct 3, 2021 at 4:07
  • The large nut should be the one holding the cartridge in place. You only need a cartridge puller if after you takes off the retaining nut the cartridge is frozen in the housing.
    – HoneyDo
    Oct 3, 2021 at 21:36

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