Plumbing projects can be insanely expensive, from the parts to the labor to unexpected dilemmas. So what is the cost of replacing your old or malfunctioning shower cartridge?
The average cost to replace a shower cartridge is $250. Many factors affect the price. The project can cost anywhere between $100 and $400, depending on the plumbing system, location, and more.
Keep reading to learn more about the cost of replacing a shower cartridge.
You can read the comprehensive cost breakdown below to better understand the cost of replacing a shower cartridge.
Parts typically account for half of the total cost of replacing the cartridge. Along with the cartridge, there are a few other necessary materials. You also need the proper valves, handles, and other small components that contribute to the replacement.
On average, homeowners pay $100 for quality replacement parts. The fanciest cartridges can cost as much as $300, but most people opt for more affordable parts.
Types of Shower Cartridges
The cost of the parts and equipment will vary depending on what type of diverter and faucet setup you choose.
For example, a diverter cartridge and valve are more expensive than a dual-handle, but with a dual-handle, you need to buy two cartridges, one for each handle. Below are the most common types of cartridges and valves you can choose from with a standard price range:
- Single-handle: $20-$60
- Dual-handle: $80-$200
- Diverter: $40-$130
- Thermostatic: $70-$300
- Pressure-balancing: $40-$150
- Transfer: $50-$150
Labor is a substantial part of the final cost. The labor cost depends heavily on the plumber you choose. Some plumbers may charge as little as $80 to replace a cartridge, while others may charge up to $350.
Unless you have a complex shower situation that requires extra work, such as punching through drywall, you shouldn’t pay over $250.
On average, homeowners pay $150 for labor. This brings the average cost for the process to $250. But you can pay as little as $100 if you find an affordable plumber and cheap parts.
Other Factors To Consider
As you can see, the cost of replacing a shower cartridge can range significantly. However, along with the parts you choose and the plumber, a few more factors will affect the price.
Where you live will heavily impact the price. Places like New York, Boston, and San Francisco will cost closer to $300, while more rural areas in states like Florida, Virginia, or Minnesota will be closer to $100.
Sometimes, you can order the correct parts online and save some money. But be careful, as ordering parts online is riskier. You may get a low-quality or defective item from a sketchy website.
Some home warranties will cover the labor and parts cost for a shower cartridge replacement. Other warranties may only cover part of the cost, usually the parts. If you have a home warranty, see if the shower is covered under it before you buy the parts and call a plumber.
Older houses with a home warranty are more likely to have this clause, as brand-new houses shouldn’t need a cartridge replacement for decades.
Old Shower Cartridge
Your shower cartridge may be severely outdated if you have an old home. Some older shower setups were built into the surrounding walls, meaning the plumber may have to do minor construction to remove the old cartridge.
This process often takes longer and requires more tools, so your labor cost will be much higher. Also, if your house is 50-100 years old or older, expect to pay more unless the entire plumbing system is modern.
Older homes aren’t the only houses that pose more issues. If the original plumbing work was done poorly, a responsible plumber might suggest you replace other plumbing elements before installing the cartridge to prevent future problems.
Unfortunately, factoring other issues into the estimated cost is difficult. People often don’t know the project’s complexity until it’s underway and have a professional plumber assessing the situation.
Even if you’re quoted $100, remember it could be $100-$150 more if unknown issues pop up.
Can I Replace a Shower Cartridge on My Own?
Yes! If you fancy yourself a handy person, you can try replacing your shower cartridge without a plumber.
Doing it on your own can save you hundreds of dollars depending on where you live, so many people consider it worthwhile. You can watch videos and guides and adhere to the product instructions to learn how to do this successfully.
Basic Steps for Replacing a Shower Cartridge
If you want a quick look at the process of changing a shower cartridge, refer to the steps below. The steps differ depending on the type of valve, old cartridge, and other factors.
- Remove the shower handle and trim plate, clean them, and set them aside.
- Turn off the shower’s water supply.
- Use pliers to remove the valve clip. Use a wrench to remove the retainer nut if there is one.
- Remove the valve.
- Fit the new valve in the old valve’s place.
- Connect the new valve to the water supply.
- Turn the water supply back on.
- Replace the trim plate and the handle.
It may sound super easy, and it can be, but if you encounter any funky plumbing situations, it can get sticky quickly.
If you are not comfortable with plumbing, it’s best to hire a professional to do the job. Sloppy work can cause damage to your shower and plumbing system. Also, the newer your house, the more likely replacing it on your own will be easier.
If you decide to tackle this project by yourself, you can expect to spend between $$60 and $100 since you don’t have to pay for any labor.
Signs You Need To Replace Your Shower Cartridge
It’s hard to know when to change your shower cartridge if you don’t know how old it is. If you suspect it may be tie to replace your shower cartridge, look for the following signs:
- Limescale buildup
- Inconsistent water tempaeraure
- Dripping faucet
- Damage (broken or bent parts)
- Wear and tear (corrosion, rust, etc.)
The problem with projects like this is you want to save money without compromising quality. It takes some time and effort to find high-quality but affordable parts and a reasonably priced professional plumber. Luckily, you don’t need to change your shower cartridge frequently!
Below are a few commonly asked questions concerning shower cartridge replacement.
How often do I need to replace my shower cartridge?
Many manufacturers suggest you replace the cartridge every few years, but most cartridges will last between 10 and 30 years. Faucets also have a lifespan of a few decades, so luckily, you don’t need to pay for a cartridge replacement very often.
Can I clean a cartridge instead of replacing it?
Yes! If you’re not ready to have your cartridge replaced, a good cleaning can add a few years to its lifespan.
Cleaning it does require some handiness, as you have to remove it. But soaking it in white vinegar and using a toothbrush or small brush to unclog it can make a significant difference and delay the need for a replacement.
Can I buy a used shower cartridge?
Technically, yes, you can find used cartridges for sale. However, cartridges do not last forever, so if one is 10+ years old, it likely has run its course and won’t be functional.
But sometimes, people buy the wrong cartridge or decide to change their shower setup, meaning the cartridge only experienced light use. But it’s best to buy new so the cartridge will last longer.