I have an old tub/shower with 3 handles in it (hot/cold/shower on) that are all twist knobs. The hot or cold can not fully disengage because they are a bit older and have some sediment built up in them I believe. So there is a constant tiny drip comping out of the water faucet in the tub.

I had a plumber look at it and he quoted me $500 to rebuild the existing hot/cold handles. Basically he would pull the guts out of them and put all new guts and handles back in. I really don't want to pay that much as it seems pretty straightforward. He hummed and hawed over what type of faucet it was but didn't tell me, but I mean they look pretty generic.

So my questions:

  1. Are these rebuild kits that I see at Home Depot etc. pretty generic, and should they work for this? These handle are at least 20 years old I guess. The rebuild kits I find are generally in the 40-60 dollar range.

  2. For a moderately skilled person, is it really that hard to do these rebuilt kits? It doesn't look too bad honestly.

  • what's on your walls? what is on the walls behind this?
    – DMoore
    Apr 16, 2013 at 20:29
  • Tile on the wall. I can access the shutoffs from the backside via an access panel. I actually just found some good Youtube videos on how to do this, but I still wonder about the size of the part that the stem going into. How universal is that?
    – Chadddada
    Apr 16, 2013 at 20:34
  • 1
    If you have access in the back then I would suggest trying to buy a new shower kit and installing it. I wouldn't rebuild unless that was the only option. For $500 you could rip out the tile yourself and replace the shower kit and retile (or pay someone to tile if you can do the rest yourself). I would not pay anywhere near $500 for hot/cold rebuilds.
    – DMoore
    Apr 16, 2013 at 20:50
  • Well I looked in the access panel and there are no shutoffs for these right there. I may have to shutoff my main back in the utility room.
    – Chadddada
    Apr 17, 2013 at 13:41

2 Answers 2


A few years ago I replaced the "guts" of my shower's faucet. It was about 10 years old and leaking, never quite shut all the way off. It is not hard at all. Just take off the knobs/face plates and there is usually a special tool that come with the replacement cartridge that allows you to yank the old one out. I probably yanked the old cartridge out with my own pliers but I can't remember. Point is you can do this for far less than $500 and its as easy as sliding the old cartridge out and the new one in. Since yours is 20 years old your biggest problem may be finding the make/model of the specific unit so that you can get the correct replacement cartridges for it.
A "rebuild" kit sounds like it comes with garbage you probably aren't going to need or can buy separately. A replacement cartridge is generally $23 and comes with all the o-rings you need.

  • It finally dawned on me to check Youtube! There were quite a few videos on how to do this on there that were very detailed. If I can get the water shut off to it, then it shouldn't be an issue. However there are no shutoffs right there and I may have to do it from my main in the utility room.
    – Chadddada
    Apr 17, 2013 at 13:40
  • I was in Home Depot yesterday and went to look at the parts available. I think the way to go about this will be to, since these are older and unidentified, is get the shafts pulled and then take them to HD. My HD had a row of 20 different shafts lined up on display and the parts book right above it. Additionally there is a plastic sheet that has all the O rings and sizes you can hold yours up against. So I guess it will be tear down and then trying to match them up in the store. I will update on the progress.
    – Chadddada
    Apr 17, 2013 at 13:43

I am not a plumber but I just did this with access through the back wall of a shower.

  • shut main water off
  • cut out copper on hot and cold coming up - read my post fully and use your best judgement on where to
  • add a compression shut-off valve - Sharkbites at HD to both hot and cold - these can be added by just sliding them over (wet) copper
  • turn your main back on -check shut-off valves
  • buy new shower/bath kit - make sure it will fit your current holes in your tile
  • follow install instructions on tub/shower kit - make sure you will have access to everything and that it will fit in current setup - use copper or pex with compression (sharkbites) if you don't want to solder in the wall.
  • make sure all lines and valve are very secure
  • put on trim and you are done

The hardest part is probably gently taking out old valve and installing new ones (backwards) and securing it. This isn't rocket science but will take you a day. Cost you another $50 for materials plus whatever you pay for new tub/shower kit. If you are going to go through all the hassle and work I would put in something new.

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