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Shower Won’t Shut Off! What’s Wrong?

Have you ever noticed your shower won’t shut off after your bath? The water not shutting off can be alarming. Whether it’s a small amount or flowing, addressing the issue as soon as possible is essential.

Before you can fix your shower faucet, you need to know why it’s not turning off in the first place. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic. Here’s everything you need to know about why your shower faucet won’t turn off. 

Shower Won't Shut Off

Why Your Shower Faucet Won’t Turn Off

There are three main reasons why your shower faucet won’t turn off. Either the faucet is loose, the faucet has damage, or you need to replace the cartridge. All three don’t cause much concern, but you should handle them as soon as possible.

The Faucet Isn’t Tight Enough

The easiest fix to a shower faucet that won’t turn off is to tighten it. If the shower faucet isn’t tight enough, it can continue to run. You’ll need to remove the cover plate to fix a loose shower faucet. Reveal the handle screw, and then use a screwdriver to tighten it. If this doesn’t work, then you probably have another issue on your hands.

You Need To Remove the Cartridge and Install a New One

The most common reason your shower faucet won’t turn off is that you need a new cartridge. The cartridge stops the water and controls how hot or cold the water is. When the cartridge isn’t working as it should, this can cause water to continue running. 

If you’ve never replaced the cartridge and your shower faucet won’t turn off, this is most likely the reason. 

A high-quality shower cartridge should last between 15 to 20 years. If you’re renting, there’s a good chance the landlord hasn’t replaced it in years. But, just because that’s the average lifespan doesn’t mean it can’t go bad well before 20 years old.

The cost of a cartridge is pretty affordable, usually under $80. It gets expensive when you want to hire a professional to handle the job. You can replace the cartridge yourself with a few tools

If you’re not comfortable with that, or your new shower cartridge won’t turn off, you can call a trusted plumber. 

The Faucet Stem has Damage

To see the faucet stem, you need to remove the handle. You can see the stem’s ridges and see if there’s any damage. If there is, this could be the reason your water isn’t completely turning off. Cracks in the faucet handle can be a problem too. 

If you see cracks in the faucet handle, you can easily replace the shower handle at home. If there are issues with the damaged stem, you might need to hire a professional.

Why You Should Address the Problem Sooner Rather Than Later

Most people don’t think twice the first time they notice their shower faucet won’t turn off. Usually, this is because only a tiny amount of water is coming out. It might not seem like a massive deal at the moment, but it could be. You want to address the problem as soon as possible for several reasons. 

Your Water Bill Will Rise

Even if money isn’t an object for you, you should concern yourself about your water bill. The water is always running when your shower faucet doesn’t shut off. Even if it’s only a tiny amount, this can cause your water bill to rise. You can see a rise of $20, $50, and even over $100 when you let the water run. 

It Can Cause Water Leaks

Another reason to address the situation is that you don’t know where the water is going. This could mean that water is leaking somewhere else in your home. Water leaks can cause severe damage to your home if left untreated (see our article about water running behind your shower to find out more).

Not only will it damage your home, but it can also get pricey. Now, you have to fix the shower faucet and repair any water damage.

Water Leak

How To Get Your Shower Faucet To Turn Off

It’s best to address the problem sooner rather than later. When your shower faucet won’t turn off, here’s how you can fix the problem (if you’re having the opposite issue and your faucet won’t turn on, read here). 

Tighten the Faucet

The first thing you should try when your shower faucet doesn’t turn off is to tighten the faucet. All you need for this task is a screwdriver. 

You’ll locate the screws and then twist them to a tighter position. You’ll either be able to tighten the screws or realize they’re as tight as possible. Regardless, if your water still won’t turn off, you can move on to the following fixes. 

This video provides a great visual example of how to do this. 

Check the Faucet For Damage

You’ll want to check the faucet for any damage. You can do this by simply looking at the faucet. You can look for cracks, dents, or other damage. Besides looking at it quickly, you’ll want to look at the faucet stem. 

To do this, you’ll need a screwdriver. You’ll want to remove the handle and then look at the stem. You’ll be able to see if there’s any damage. If there’s not, then you probably need to replace the cartridge. If you notice damage, fixing the faucet stem or replacing it is the best option. 

Replace the Cartridge 

As the most common reason your shower faucet won’t turn off, this fix is a must-try. You’ll need a screwdriver, replacement cartridge, and a vice grip. You might need some lubrication, but most new cartridges come with a lubricating gel.

1. Turn Off Your Water Supply

First things first, you need to turn off your water supply. You don’t want even more water flowing through the faucet while you’re trying to work. You can locate your water meter and turn the valve off. This video is excellent at identifying the water valve and how to use it. 

2. Make Sure the Water is Off Throughout the House

This step might seem obvious, but make sure the water is off. You might have turned the water valve, but you’ll need to ensure the water is off before you continue working. You can check that the water’s off by going to any faucet in your home and turning it to see if water comes out

If you still see water flowing, you’ll need to try shutting off the water again. If there’s no water running, you can move on to step three. 

3. Cover Your Shower Drain 

You’ll be unscrewing screws, so the last thing you want is for them to fall down the drain. It would help if you covered the drain somehow before beginning to unscrew the parts. 

If you have a traditional shower and bathtub combination, you can use its stopper. But, if you have a shower, a towel or piece of cloth over the drain will do just fine. Even if you can’t find the stopper, you can also use that trick with a shower/bathtub combination.

Removing Shower Handle

4. Remove Your Shower Faucet Handles

To remove your shower faucet handles, you’ll need the screwdriver. Locate the screws on your faucet’s handles and then remove them carefully. Once you remove them, put the screws and handles in a safe place, so you don’t lose them. 

5. Remove the Cartridge

Once you remove the handles, you’ll be able to see the shower cartridge. Before removing the cartridge, you’ll need to find the screws holding the piece in place. You should be able to use the same screwdriver you’ve been using, but you might need an additional one. 

Take your screwdriver and remove the screws. Set them aside separate from the others, so you don’t confuse which screws go with which part. Once the cartridge and the plastic device are loose, you can slide them off. 

A clip holds the cartridge in place. Once you find the clip, you can remove that. Be sure not to throw this part away accidentally, as you’ll need it to install the replacement cartridge. You’ll use your vice grips or clips to clamp on the cartridge and pull it out of the faucet. 

When performing this step, be as careful as possible. You need to work gently not to damage any parts of the faucet. 

6. Install a New Cartridge

Your new cartridge should come with a lubricating gel that will help you put the cartridge in place. You don’t have to use it if you don’t want to, but it’s helpful. You’ll want to apply the lube and line up the cartridge, so the hot and cold sides line up to their corresponding sides. 

Once you align the new cartridge, you can start installing the device. You’ll put the cartridge in and screw the screws in place. You’ll want to ensure they’re tight and won’t come loose quickly. 

7. Replace the Faucet Handles

Now it’s time to grab the faucet handles and the screws. You’ll line the handle or handles up with their appropriate spot before screwing the screws into place. To prevent this issue due to a loose faucet, tighten them as much as possible.

8. Unplug the Drain

After screwing the shower faucet handles back on, you can remove the drain stopper or towel covering it. 

9. Turn Your Water Supply Back On

After completing the previous step, you can turn the main water supply back on to your home. You’ll return to your water meter and turn the valve on. You’ll want to double-check a working home faucet to ensure you turned the water back on correctly. 

10. Test Your Shower Faucet

You can test your shower once you’re sure your water supply is on. You have to turn your shower on for a few seconds and then turn it off. You’ve solved the problem if the water stops running when you turn the shower handle.

On the off chance that there’s still water running when you test the shower, you might need to hire a professional to address the issue.

Final Thoughts

I know it can be frustrating when you get out of the bath, and the shower won’t shut off when you turn the handle. If this happens to you or an acquaintance, now you know the three reasons that cause the issue. 

You should be able to address these issues on your own at home with a screwdriver and other tools. If you attempt to fix it yourself and the water is still running, hiring a plumber is your best bet.

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