Moen Shower Handle is STUCK

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Justin83

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Hello, all.

First post here, so please bear with me.

I have a single handle Moen shower handle (see attached photos), turn one direction for cold, the other direction for hot. I bought a new handle, showerhead, faucet setup with a different finish. My intent was to reuse the existing valve, as it seems that is the same as the new valve (from what I could tell researching Moen's manuals).

So, when I went to remove the set screw under the handle, I found it to be badly corroded. One twist with the allen wrench ended up rounding the screw head pretty good. I tried several things, but ultimately, I decided to drill out the set screw. I started small, but progressed a few sizes until I drilled completely through until I could see the inside of the handle body. It looks (I am hoping) that I cleared the end of valve. However, even with the set screw gone, it is locked in place. I can turn it left and right to the stops, but it refuses to be pulled straight off.

Can anyone offer some advice as to what else I can try to pull this thing off? I have had the water off for several hours now and I was hoping to have it on for my wife and kids a long time ago. Responses are greatly appreciated!!! Did I mention, PLEASE HELP! I'm banging my head against the wall on this one!

Thanks,

Justin

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CountryBumkin

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Perhaps you can clamp a pair of "curved jaw" vise-grips to the shaft and use that to pry against the handle using screwdrivers or small-pry bars on each side.
 

Justin83

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Thanks for your reply, CountryBumkin.

I'm hesitant to pull too much on the unit, because I'm not sure how much the piping behind the wall can take. Just drilling the set screw out created a fair amount of vibration through the system, although I did dampen it somewhat just by holding it tightly while I drilled. I am hoping that the vibration didn't weaken any of the joints/cause any leaks that I cannot see.

I have read about other folks having similar issues and many recommend a faucet puller. Any thoughts, good/bad/ugly?

Thanks again.
 

Reach4

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I have read about other folks having similar issues and many recommend a faucet puller. Any thoughts, good/bad/ugly?
A faucet puller needs something in the middle for the center pin to press against. Maybe you could drill/grind an access if you were going to replace the handle. I have never tried it.

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Justin83

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A faucet puller needs something in the middle for the center pin to press against. Maybe you could drill/grind an access if you were going to replace the handle. I have never tried it.

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Hey, Reach4.

If I go this route, I figured I would try to score the center of the faucet body enough to drill a seat for the puller. That will be tomorrow's after work fun. For now, the water is back on and no leaks yet, so hopefully all of the vibration from drilling didn't damage the piping inside of the wall.
 

Cacher_Chick

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You are going to need some new parts anyway, so you might as well cut the stem off with the handle and replace
everything except the valve body.
 

Justin83

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You are going to need some new parts anyway, so you might as well cut the stem off with the handle and replace
everything except the valve body.
Hey, Cacher Chick.

Just curious, why do you say that I will need some new parts anyway? And what parts would need to be new? The new handle and faucet came with a new valve body, and it is supposed to be the same, so I might be able to get some parts from that... Can you separate the stem from the rest of the valve body?

So, assuming I went that route, what would you use to cut the handle off? Dremel? I'm just worried that anything like a sawzall would be too much for the piping and I have no access in the wall to get to or check the piping.
 
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Dj2

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"Can you separate the stem from the rest of the valve body?"

Yes, the stem is held inside the body with a retaining nut.
 

Dj2

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"So, assuming I went that route, what would you use to cut the handle off? Dremel?

Use a hacksaw.
 

Justin83

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"So, assuming I went that route, what would you use to cut the handle off? Dremel?

Use a hacksaw.
Sorry, duh moment. Didn't even think of a hacksaw. Would this be preferred over using a puller?

Would you make the cut right behind the handle?

In your opinion, do you think the piping in the wall is ok after drilling out the set screw? It's not like I hammer drilled it, and I held the handle tight to minimize vibrations.

Thanks a lot for your comments!
 

hj

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The screw goes through the handle adapter, which is screwed to the end of the stem, so just drilling the end off does not release the handle. You have to drill the ENTIRE screw out. or cut the handle off, which is what I do.
 

Justin83

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The screw goes through the handle adapter, which is screwed to the end of the stem, so just drilling the end off does not release the handle. You have to drill the ENTIRE screw out. or cut the handle off, which is what I do.
Tough to tell from the photo, I know, but I drilled the entire screw out. I can see the inside of the handle body. Not sure if it's holding on from burs, or from years of residue or buildup, or what. One thing is for sure, the set screw is no longer.

So, if I make the cut at Plane A, I would be cutting through the end of the stem it sounds. If I have done my homework right, I should be able to take the stem from the new valve body (Moen posi-temp) and use it to replace the cut stem in the existing valve body. Is that a correct statement?

Thanks for your comments!
 
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CountryBumkin

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You could cut the handle 90 degrees to your Orange-line right across the set screw opening. Use a rotary grinder (i.e. dremel tool) then you stick a wide blade screwdriver in the groove you cut and spread the handle some to pull it off. That way you would only to need to replace the handle (assuming the valve itself is good and you get a handle).
 

Justin83

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Just wanted to provide an update. I turned the water off midday yesterday to try to tackle this thing. Using a hacksaw and cutting along Plane A in the photo a few posts up (basically right behind the faucet handle), I was able to get the handle off. As expected, I went through the end of the stem, but I had the new one waiting. However, removing the existing cartridge proved to be more of a bear than the handle. I wrestled with it for a couple of hours using a few different methods, including a Moen cartridge puller. I was able to get the cartridge about flush with the end of the valve housing and it stopped there. Finally, I threw in the towel and had a plumber come by to help me out (if it was just my wife and I, I would have at least avoided paying time-and-a-half and played and pulled for a few more hours). The plumber pulled harder than I was comfortable with pulling, resulting in a lot of movement of the piping in the wall, but he finally got the core out. He then chipped the outside plastic portion of the cartridge out with a screwdriver and a pick set.

A few questions for you guys:

1. I noticed a few scratches (not huge gouges) inside the valve body where the cartridge goes. Any concern for leaks or that the cartridge will not seat well?

2. During the day, I noticed some temporary blocking between the shower wall and the piping in the wall. It appeared to be two 1x's just wedged in there. I did my best to make sure they stayed put, but after the plumber wrestled with the cartridge, the blocking fell down. Now, if you pull slightly on the handle, both the handle assembly and the diverter spout come away from the shower wall about an inch and a half. As long as you don't pull, it's at least against the wall. The plumber advised me to caulk the gaps before using the shower. I really feel like I need to do more than that to prevent leaking into the wall from the shower and moving pipes. I do not have an access panel on the other side of the wall. If you remove the escutcheon plate and handle, the valve is off center of the hole enough that I can get my hand into the wall. I can also see the 2x4 holding the sheetrock on the opposite wall. Is there anyway that I can at least get back to where I was in terms of the piping not moving? I could probably fit some smaller pieces through the hole to fasten to the 2x4 and "build up" some blocking enough to get near the piping and get a strap or two on it. Does anyone have any advice on this one? We are looking to sell within the next few months and I really don't want to get into opening the walls up, but I also don't want to leave this the way it is - for our sake now, and for the future homeowner's sake. I am betting that an inspector would find it anyway, so it would need to be fixed, one way or another. It's not the plumber's fault that it happened, since it wasn't done right to begin with, but I WAS surprised at his recommendation to just caulk it, based on the fact that it has that much movement out of the wall. He was a pretty young guy, but I don't fault him, he helped me out at the end of the day. See attached photos for a visual.

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Thanks to all!
 
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I Play One On TV

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This is an old thread but it contains some valuable info I wish I had found before my odyssey of the last 4 days, so I'm bumping it. By valuable info, I mean CountryBumkin's suggestion above to spread the handle apart to get it off. If you hacksaw it (I'm surprised hj didn't go nuts on that idea, based on his posts in some "Moen stuck cartridge" threads) you're left with a stem on which can't use the Moen cartridge-puller tool. However, at least you have a stub left to grab with vise grips.

If you wiggle the handle like I did, until the stem breaks off at the face of the cartridge, then you are really up the creek without a paddle. At that point, you are out of great options, and in other threads (I'm going to add one link in a minute) hj has said to call a good plumber immediately before making things worse. (He also implied that if the plumber's Plan A is to cut open the wall and replace the valve body, he/she is not a good plumber.)

What I did next was CAREFULLY drill small holes as close as possible to the center of the cartridge (and we're talking a 1222 here, not a 1225) so that I could squirt it full of WD40 to try to break it loose. Again, hj has cautioned that a drill bit should never go anywhere near the cartridge, because one slip and you will be replacing the valve body. The WD40 didn't get me anywhere so my next thought was to thread screws into the holes I had drilled and use them to pull on the cartridge, as suggested by the DIYer with good photos in post #47 here: https://terrylove.com/forums/index.php?threads/moen-shower-cartridge-removal-tool.1437/page-3

Out of caution, I decided that might make things worse, and I better call in a pro. Guess what--he used the same solution, putting screws in my holes and using them to pull the cartridge. But he told me we got lucky, if that hadn't worked he in fact would have drilled the cartridge out at a great risk of damaging the valve body.

To sum up: try what CountryBumkin says and do everything you can to avoid cutting off the stem, because you are going to want to be able to use the cartridge-puller tool. One other thing, Moen is now using a plastic base on these hubs. Maybe because it is just cheaper to make that way, but people are also saying it avoids this issue of the hub becoming fused to the base.
 

ryanbeymer

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Jumping in here to share my experience.

I had an older moen tub/shower handle with the metal on metal and it was stuck real good. I was jiggling everything trying to get it come loose.

I tried penetrating oil for over and hour, tried boiling water. Those didn't do it.

I eventually tried white distilled vinegar with a straw and I used the ol' put the finger on the end of the straw. Then I would drip it down into the set screw hole with the handle facing up. I did this several more times over an hour.

After a while, I started to gently rock the handle back and forth, pushing and pulling, going slow. Eventually with the combination of the movement and the vinegar it broke free.

Hope this helps.
 

Michael Young

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Hello, all.

First post here, so please bear with me.

I have a single handle Moen shower handle (see attached photos), turn one direction for cold, the other direction for hot. I bought a new handle, showerhead, faucet setup with a different finish. My intent was to reuse the existing valve, as it seems that is the same as the new valve (from what I could tell researching Moen's manuals).

So, when I went to remove the set screw under the handle, I found it to be badly corroded. One twist with the allen wrench ended up rounding the screw head pretty good. I tried several things, but ultimately, I decided to drill out the set screw. I started small, but progressed a few sizes until I drilled completely through until I could see the inside of the handle body. It looks (I am hoping) that I cleared the end of valve. However, even with the set screw gone, it is locked in place. I can turn it left and right to the stops, but it refuses to be pulled straight off.

Can anyone offer some advice as to what else I can try to pull this thing off? I have had the water off for several hours now and I was hoping to have it on for my wife and kids a long time ago. Responses are greatly appreciated!!! Did I mention, PLEASE HELP! I'm banging my head against the wall on this one!

Thanks,

Justin

Cut the shaft right behind the handle
pull the Moen cartridge
take Moen cartridge to home dopey and be sure you buy the right cartridge
buy a new handle

pop the new cartridge in (use the little packet of plumbers grease that comes with it)
the new cartridge will give you a fresh new shaft
pop your new handle onto the new shaft. the new handle comes with a new set screw ;-)
 
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