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My tub/shower faucet had a slow leak a few weeks ago, so I chose to replace the cartridge (after removing the old one and looking at it, it's a Moen 1225). This solved the problem. However, I had a plumber come out to fix something unrelated in my house a few days ago (water meter connection plumbing). After this, for which he had to shut the main water off to the house, the tub where I replaced the cartridge was now "sticking" open. I could open the faucet, but it was difficult to close. I decided to open it up and take a look again.

Lo and behold, there was a piece of rubber stuck in the opening. I removed the cartridge and purchased a new one (because now the rubber seals around the opening were ripped). The guy at the hardware store told me this could be because there was old pieces remaining in the faucet.

So, I cleaned out the pipes by running the water and visually inspecting to make sure there wasn't anything in the faucet and installed the new one. The faucet worked fine for about 24 hours, after which, I encountered the same problem.

Thinking this was my fault again, I removed the "new new" cartridge, purchased a new one, cleaned out the faucet fairly gently with a wire brush, and installed a third one.

The problem is back. I removed the cartridge this morning, and now I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do. It doesn't appear like there is anything really wrong with the cartridge, aside from some tearing of the black seals around the end. The faucet appears fine, and running the water without the cartridge in it doesn't produce any debris that's in the pipes.

Each time I replace the cartridge, when I remove the existing one, it comes out with tears on the rubber seals around the end of the cartridge. I'm not sure what's tearing these seals (it could be just the force of me trying to remove it, since they have a tendency to get stuck, but I don't think so... I'm not using much force).

Any thoughts on what I might be doing incorrectly? I'd rather avoid replacing the faucet itself, as I don't have access behind the faucet (although I could make a hole if necessary in the drywall behind it), and the bathroom is tile. Even worse, the input piping appears to be right up against a stud or some other piece of wood that doesn't allow me to easily access it. :( There isn't even a shutoff for the faucet at the point of access.

I'm hoping I'm just doing something incorrect with my installation of the cartridge, because, aside from the slow leak, this wasn't a problem prior to my original "fix". Is it possible there is still a bunch of debris hidden somewhere in the pipe? (The second time I removed the cartridge, it did appear to be "missing" some of the black rubber around the end. I'm not sure where it went).

  • Do the cartridge instructions call for lubrication on the seals, or does any come pre-applied? – isherwood May 6 '16 at 14:28
  • Both. The cartridges do come pre-lubricated, but I added a silicone grease (recommended by the guy at the hardware store) to ensure it slides smoothly. – jwir3 May 6 '16 at 14:39
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    Then I wonder if you have hard water deposits on the cylinder bore, or maybe your wire brush abraded the surface, resulting in excess friction. – isherwood May 6 '16 at 15:09
  • I'm not sure the wire brush abraded the surface - I only did that with the last installation of the cartridge. I know the house has hard water, since we have a water softener, so it's possible there are hard water deposits, but I didn't see any when I visually inspected the interior of the manifold. – jwir3 May 6 '16 at 15:55
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    +1 @isherwood, I agree that the likely culprit is a burr or some other defect in the valve body that is shredding the seals. Use a bright penlight and inspect the valve body bore. – Jimmy Fix-it May 7 '16 at 2:54
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There are really only two things that can damage the seals: stuff in the water, or the valve body itself. Considering the number of times you've replaced it, whatever crud might have been in the water should have flushed out by now. So that just leaves the valve body.

Time for some drywall work!

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