How hard is this DIY replacement?
October 28, 2011 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Handyman Help: How do you replace a shower handle?

I'm not a handy-man, but I follow instructions well and I've got a full set of tools.

I went to take a shower this morning, and the handle that turns my shower on and controls temperature came off in my hand.

It looks like this:

I don't want to fix it, because honestly the one that's on there is a POS and I've felt it was bound to break sooner or later, and now it has.

Is replacing this something I can do myself? How hard is it?

I will only have access on the "shower" side, I don't want to have to pull down any walls to do this. I could if absolutely necessary, but I'd ideally like to avoid this at all costs.

I'm not going to hire someone to do this cause, well, I'd feel like less of a man if I couldn't fix this myself ;)
posted by smitt to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
(I should say, it LOOKS LIKE that, but that's a pic I stole off a google image search.)
posted by smitt at 7:12 AM on October 28, 2011

This is a major job. You basically have to replace the entire valve setup that controls the shower, which means getting access to that plumbing on the back side of the wall. If the current valve works, and the handle just fell off, my advice is to put it back on and tighten the set screw, as is shown in the picture. If you really want to attempt this, be aware that it is a major plumbing project requiring you to open the wall, remove the old valve, install the new valve, and put the wall back up. Other questions to consider. How old is your house? Are your water supply lines copper, PEX, or something else? Do you have the tools to sweat copper tubing or crimp PEX? If so, are you good at it? Because a leak inside the wall is a major pain in the ass. Not trying to burst your bubble, but honestly, if it's just the handle that bugs you, tighten the screw once a month and you'll be good to go.
posted by cosmicbandito at 7:20 AM on October 28, 2011

It sounds like you're talking about more than just the handle. If you want to replace the whole valve assembly then you may be getting in over your head. Attaching a new handle is no big deal -- just a screwdriver or allen key, as shown in the pic you linked to. But replacing the valve is fairly sure to require more access than you can get from the shower side without tearing into the wall; that's why there's typically an access panel on the other side.
posted by jon1270 at 7:22 AM on October 28, 2011

It sounds like you're talking about more than just the handle.

It sounds like that, but is he?

OP: Is this just because the handle is broken? The valve seems OK? Can you turn it on and adjust it with a pair of pliers?
posted by mhoye at 7:34 AM on October 28, 2011

you know if its a major brand you might might be able to upgrade the escutcheon plate and handle. But if it isn't - yeah don't replace the valve for cosmetic reasons, and don't try to do it yourself if you've never done any plumbing.
posted by JPD at 7:37 AM on October 28, 2011

Yeah, I was ideally thinking I could replace the whole thing.

I went to Moen's website and pulled up instructions for one of their replacement sets and it will definitely require I tear down a wall. I don't want to do that.

I just going to try and repair it for now. I'm not sure how to fix it yet, I'll have to look closely when I get home.

Thanks everyone. Maybe next time..
posted by smitt at 7:42 AM on October 28, 2011

If the handle came off in your hand, I bet the set screw just came loose and fell out. You can definitely get a replacement set screw.
posted by cosmicbandito at 7:53 AM on October 28, 2011

Most likely the set screw just loosened, which made the handle feel loose and cheap. Put the handle back where it goes and tighten the set screw, and it will probably feel better than it has in a long time. If the slot or socket of the screw is beat up or stripped, try to back it out and replace it with a new set screw from the hardware store. Make sure the screwdriver or allen key you use fits the screw well and is in good condition. Grease that set screw with petroleum jelly or faucet grease before inserting it.
posted by jon1270 at 7:54 AM on October 28, 2011

Beaten to it again...
posted by jon1270 at 7:54 AM on October 28, 2011

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