Problems with Price Pfister Shower Handles

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by obrien234, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. obrien234

    obrien234 New Member

    Jul 2, 2007

    I've got a couple showers with Price Pfister Two Handle Shower Systems installed. Something like this...

    the problem with the first shower is that it leaks from the showerhead and the washers in the valves need to be replaced. I just don't know what to do after removing the first screw (taking off the handle). I'm not to experienced when it comes to plumbing, and I was wondering if someone could help me out with what to do next.

    The problem on the second is that water pours out of the handles when turned on. First off, I don't know how to fix that, and second off, the screws holding the handles have rusted themselves in place. I've tried bolt lubricant and the like, but it still won't budge. Is there another way to remove the handle? and what do I do once its off?

    Thank you.
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    Very common shower, and fairly easy repairs. First, don't forget to turn off the main water shutoff.

    As for the broken screw, just get a dril with something like a 3/8" bit. Just obliterate the srew head. You will possibley damage the handle, but it probably needs to be replaced anyway, and they are cheap. Once you get the handle off, you may be able to remove the stub of the screw from the stem with vice grips, but again, if this shower has any age on it, you might want to just renew all the stems and all the trim. It is all readily available.

    Anyway, after you get the handle off, the chrome trim flange wil also unscrew, usually just hand tight. Now, a special deep shower socket will remove the entire stem. NOTE: Before trying to unscrew the stem, open the valve most of the way. Same when reinstalling....dont try to tighten or loosen the stem if it is screwed in to the "off" position.

    If the brass is in good shape, just replace the flat washer ( size is 3/8L ). Lubricate the stem shaft with plumbers grease; work the stem in and out a few times to distribute the grease. Put is back in. Notice that there is a flat fiber or plastic gasket where the body of the stem seats into the valve body in the wall. Make sure that is in place, and if it got nicked up, just replace it.

    For the one that is leaking around the handle, this could be that flat gasket, or more likely it is the fat packing around the stem. Try tightening the smaller, outer, nut. TIghten ins 1/4 turn increments until there is no drip of water out there. If you cannot get it to seal without tightening so much you cant turn the handle, replace the stem packing, or better yet, just replace the whole stem, which should be $9 to $14.

    One more thing: before putting it all back together, inside the valve body in the wall is a part called a seat....the flat washer squeezes against it. It is normally replaced at the same time as the washers. Now you need a seat wrench, which looks like an overgrown allen wrench.

    From a previous thread, here is a typical breakdown, showing parts and the tools needed:
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  4. smellslike$tome

    smellslike$tome Plumbing Company Owner

    Nov 3, 2007
    plumbing company owner
    Birmingham, Alabama
    Slow down!

    With all due respect to Jimbo (and by the way Jimbo, thank you for your service to our country) this is nowhere near as simple as he makes it sound. I repair and replace these and similar types of faucets all the time and I still approach them with extreme care. There are MANY things that can go wrong with this repair. Removing the handles is very often the first obstacle and assuming you can remove the screws which have already given you trouble, it is still pretty likely that you will need a special tool called a handle puller. Even with a handle puller I have had numerous faucet handles give me grief. Once you remove the handles and the trim, removal of the stems is generally not as burdensom but still you will need special plumbing tools to properly remove them. Once the stems are removed you need to know how to properly inspect them. The washer replacement is usually simple enough unless the screws are frozen and are made of brass. Brass is relatively soft and it is very easy to round out the head of the screw while trying to romove it. Once you have the washers replaced you need to KNOW HOW TO PROPERLY INSPECT THE BRASS SEATS. If you do not know how to do this the chances are good that you will have done all this work for nothing. Of all the problems associated with this repair, removal of the seats has the most potential for making you cry. They seem to almost always be frozen in place and because they are brass it seems that about 1/2 the time the seat wrench mentioned by Jimbo will round out the seat. If this happens then you will need another special tool called an easy out to remove the seat (don't let the name fool you, it still will not be easy). You must make the entire repair without doing ANY DAMAGE to any of the threads on the valve body itself. If you damage the valve body it is very possible that you will no longer be looking at a faucet rebuild but a valve replacement.

    I'm not saying that you can't do this but from your post it sounds to me as if you really don't have any idea what you are getting into. My suggestion to you is to call a reputable, professional plumbing company and have it done properly in a fraction of the time it would take you. Good luck.
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