Signs of a Bad Shower Cartridge and How to Replace It?

A shower cartridge is one of the latest technologies to give you a better showering experience. It’s a part of some of the modern shower valves.

Shower cartridges can last for a long time, given that it was installed and used appropriately. 

Some signs that your shower cartridge is either partially damaged or entirely broken are dripping, irregular temperature, rigid controls, etc.

What Does a Shower Cartridge Do?

A shower cartridge sits inside the valve behind your faucet. The cartridge decides the flow and temperature of the water.

Inside the cartridge, hot and cold water is mixed, and when you pull the handle, it allows the water to flow by sliding and opening built-in holes. 

Depending on your preference, the cartridge then diverts the water to the shower head or faucet.

Recommended Reading: Signs of a Bad Shower Valve

How Does a Shower Cartridge Fail?


The balance between hot and cold water is essential to ensure the longevity of the cartridge. If the water in your home is too cold and the boiler produces water which is the opposite, it can damage your valve in the long run. 

You can minimize the damage by slowly turning your faucet every time you mix the hot and cold water.

Hard water will lessen the lifespan of your cartridge as well. However, you can install a water softener in your bathroom if you have a hard water supply in your area.

If you don’t turn off the water supply entirely after using the shower, eventually, because of the drip, the cartridge will start to accumulate minerals. It might prevent the cartridge from blocking the water supply entirely if it happens for an extended period.

Moen 1222 One-Handle Posi-Temp Faucet Cartridge Replacement for Moen Tub Shower and Shower-min

Signs of a Bad Shower Cartridge


A shower cartridge will show some traits to help you understand that it’s damaged or broken. 

  • Dripping or running water
  • Hot and cold water reversed in the faucet or the shower head
  • Not getting the intended water temperature
  • Handles are hard to turn

Dripping can occur if the shower valve itself or the cartridge is damaged. In most cases, changing the cartridge should fix the problem. 

If you notice you are getting cold water when you turn on the hot water faucet, it’s safe to assume there are problems in the cartridge installation process. 

A faulty cartridge will also affect the controls; thus, they will be hard to use.

You can claim the warranty if it’s still valid. You can also buy parts from the market and replace the cartridge yourself, saving you a lot of money. If you are not confident, we suggest you seek professional help.

Recommended Reading: How To Fix A Leaking Shower Head

Side Note:

You can save some money if you can open the cartridge yourself. In some cases, the reason might be a weary O-ring. You will see two or three of them around your cartridge. You can easily replace them, and they are available in nearly all hardware shops.

The seal that allows the water to flow can be damaged as well. Again, if you have the expertise, you can check for broken parts and replace the cartridge, saving you a lot of time.


  • How long does a shower cartridge last?

A shower cartridge usually lasts around 2 to 5 years. However, some expensive models (MOEN, DELTA) can last up to 30 years.

  • How often should I change the shower cartridge?

Manufacturers suggest that you should change your cartridge every six months or so. However, if you are lazy or forget to do so, you must change the cartridge every year.

  • When should I replace my shower cartridge?

You likely need a new shower cartridge if you notice any of the alarming signs mentioned above in the article. In addition, if you decide to change the faucet’s design, there’s a high chance that you will have to replace the cartridge as well. 

  • How much does a new shower cartridge cost?

A shower cartridge costs from 10 USD to 80 USD, depending on the features and brand value. The costlier ones tend to last longer than the cheaper ones. 

  • How much does a plumber charge to replace a shower cartridge?

The plumber will charge you anything from 150 USD to 350 USD depending on your location, labor cost, etc.

Recommended readingWhy Does Shower Head Squeal?

All in All

It is important to be aware of the signs of a bad shower cartridge so that you can replace it before it causes any more damage. There are several signs that can indicate a bad shower cartridge. 

For example, if you are experiencing low water pressure, rust-colored water, or leaks, it is likely time to replace your cartridge. 

Be sure to consult your shower’s installation manual to determine the correct replacement cartridge for your model.

Was this article helpful?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *