How to repair stuck shower valve stem?

At first glance, a stuck shower valve stem may seem like a hopeless repair job, but it’s often a simple fix. You can remove and replace the handle and trim plate to access the stem without any special tools. Then you can clean out any deposits from the seat or replace it if necessary. By following these steps, you’ll be able to repair your stuck shower valve in no time:

Remove the handle and trim plate

With the valve stem in place, remove the handle and trim plate. The handle can often be removed with a screwdriver, while trim plates are usually held on with screws or clips that need to be removed before you can pull it off. If you are unsure how to remove your trim plate or if it appears damaged, take it to a professional plumber for further inspection.

If your valve stem is stuck open (water flowing constantly), shut off the water supply at its source and flush out any remaining water by opening all faucets until they run dry.

How to repair stuck shower valve stem

Loosen the packing nut under the handle

To loosen the packing nut, you’ll need to remove the handle from its base. On many faucets and valves, this is done by simply unscrewing it with your fingers or a wrench.

Once you’ve loosened it, look for a small hexagonal nut underneath (or sometimes under). That nut is called the “packing nut,” because it holds in place a tiny piece of rubber called packing (or packer) that keeps water from leaking around inside your valve stem when you turn it off or on. The packing keeps things tight as well as prevents corrosion from happening within your shower valve assembly over time; without new packing every few years or so, corrosion could destroy pieces of your shower fixture beyond repair!

Remove the stem

Now that you have the valve stem removed, it’s time to replace it with a new one. You can find replacement stems at your local hardware store or online.

If you can’t turn the handle to right or left, try using a screwdriver or wrench to turn it. If that doesn’t work, try using a hammer on the side of the handle (not under it).

Clean the seat

  • If you have a grinding tool, such as a seat-dressing tool or an old hacksaw blade, clean the seat with it. This will remove any rust that has built up and allow the valve to operate smoothly again.
  • Make sure to get all of the residue off of the seat before turning on your water supply again.

Reinsert the stem

Reinsert the stem, replace the packing nut and handle, and then tighten down all of the parts. Don’t overtighten! If you do so, you could break off a piece of your valve that would make it impossible to remove later with tools.

You also shouldn’t over-tighten any part of your shower valve. If you want to ensure there will be no leaks when using your shower again after fixing this problem yourself or hiring someone else to do so for you, never overtighten anything on your faucet or fixture when replacing parts like handles or stems.

Fix something that looks hard to repair.

There are many things that can cause a shower valve to become stuck in place. A common cause of stuck shower valves is due to limescale buildup inside the handle and stem, causing it to stick.

To check if your shower valve is sticking because of limescale buildup:

  • Remove the cover plate on your shower handle and/or trim ring, then remove the handle by pulling straight off (do not twist).
  • Use an old toothbrush or other soft-bristled brush to scrub away any build-up from around the base of the stopper screw area. If there’s still plastic buildup, use an old toothbrush or other soft bristle brush dipped in vinegar to remove it carefully without scratching anything else on your chrome door handles etc if possible but this should only happen rarely if at all so don’t worry too much about that unless you really need something sharp like sandpaper which could scratch off some paint if not careful!


Even though you’ve read this article, it still might seem like a difficult repair to make. But if you have the right tools and know what to do, it really is simple! If you don’t think you can do it yourself, then call in a professional who will be able to fix your shower valve for a reasonable price.