How to Replace a Shower Valve

Replace a shower valve and get it back in working order with these steps

Katie Smith
Written by Katie Smith
Reviewed by Joseph Wood
Updated June 10, 2022
A white minimalistic bathroom with a glass shower cabin
Photo: Martin Deja / Moment / Getty Images


Perfect for handy homeowners.

Time to complete

4 hours

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What you'll need:


  • Crosshead screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Allen wrench
  • Drywall saw
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Tubing cutter (if you have copper piping)
  • Small hacksaw (optional)


  • Caulking
  • Cloth
  • Plumber’s tape (depending on your piping)
  • Plumbing fittings, connectors, or adaptors (depending on your piping)
  • Drywall patch
  • Furring strips
  • Screws
  • Joint tape
  • Joint compound
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint

Maybe your showerhead has sprung a leak, making your shower time not nearly as satisfying—no one likes losing precious water. Perhaps you noticed the shower is whistling, or you can’t get a comfortable water temperature—it’s always too hot or too cold. A faulty or worn-out shower valve might be the culprit.  

Following these steps can get your shower working like new again. Keep in mind, this is an advanced-level DIY that involves plumbing, so don’t hesitate to call a pro for help. Incorrectly changing the shower valve can lead to costly repairs down the road.

A brass minimalistic shower valve
Photo: anystock / Adobe Stock

Prepping to Replace a Shower Valve 

To find the right replacement shower valve, you’ll need to know the brand and type of faucet. If you can’t find any markings, you’ll need to take apart your faucet and take measurements or bring it into your local supply store and ask for help. Additionally, be sure to purchase the same brand and the correct fittings or adaptors, depending on the type of piping in your bathroom. 

“You’re going to do way better at the local supply house, not the hardware store,” says Joseph Wood, Expert Review Board member, Master Plumber, and Founder of Boston Standard Company. “And you should go to one that sells the same brand of fixture you're trying to get.”

Changing out the shower valve cartridge (the internal mechanism) will solve the problem most of the time, but you might need to change the entire shower valve assembly to solve the problem. Call a local plumber if you’re upgrading to a different system; the cost of a shower valve replacement with this pro is around $225.

How to Change a Shower Valve

  1. Cover the Drain

    Cover the shower or bathtub drain with a cloth or drain stopper. You don’t want to lose any important screws or parts down there, not to mention risk clogging your drain.

  2. Unscrew the Shower Handle

    Use the screwdriver (or the Allen wrench, depending on the screw on your shower valve) to unscrew the shower handle. Sometimes the screw is underneath the decorative shower handle cap. Keep your handle, screws, and any caps to the handle together so you can easily find them when it’s time to put the shower back together.

  3. Remove the Trim Plate

    Take off the trim plate covering the hole in your shower wall (the shower-side wall, to be exact). If there’s caulking between the plate and the shower wall, cut through it with the utility knife. Now you should be able to see your valve.

  4. Take the Time to Clean

    Here’s your chance to give the shower handle and trim plate a good cleaning. Soak them in vinegar until it’s time to put them back on.

  5. Shut Off the Water

    Shut off the water to your shower. There should be a shut-off for the hot and cold water on each side of the valve. If you can’t locate them, go ahead and shut off the main water valve in your home until you’ve finished this project. If you use a well, turn off the well pump circuit breaker.

  6. Enlarge the Opening

    If the existing hole behind your trim plate is smaller than 12 inches by 12 inches, you may need to cut a larger hole with the hacksaw to access the valve. Using the tape measure, measure your trim plate first. Make sure the new hole you create isn’t bigger than the trim plate; otherwise, it won’t cover up the hole when you put it back together.

  7. Loosen the Valve

    If your existing shower valve has a cap, remove it by taking out the screws on either side. If there’s a valve clip at the top of the valve, remove it using the needle nose pliers and set it aside. Check to see if your existing valve also has a retaining nut that holds the valve in place; if it does, hold the valve while you unscrew the nut with the wrench and keep it with your valve clip.

  8. Replace the Shower Valve Assembly if Needed

    If changing the shower valve cartridge alone isn’t going to cut it, you have to replace the entire shower valve assembly. You’ll have to access the valve from the other side of the shower wall. Using the drywall saw, cut out a section of drywall (about one foot by one foot). The valve will be attached to a stringer (a supporting board between the studs) that you’ll have to cut loose with a reciprocating saw.

  9. Disconnect the Valve

    Disconnect the shower valve from the pipes running to the shower and the hot and cold lines. If you have copper pipes, cut the pipes with a tubing cutter.

  10. Connect the Piping

    Connect the piping to the new shower valve using the correct fittings, connectors, or adaptors. You may have to cut new piping to attach to the valve. Follow the instructions that came with your replacement shower valve for guidance. 

    If you have PEX piping, wrap the male threads with plumber’s tape before attaching them to the female fittings. Next, attach couplings and pipe-crimp fittings. If you have copper pipes, you can solder the piping or use compression fittings.

  11. Position the Valve

    The instructions will also specify where to position the valve so it’s the correct distance from the shower wall and the drywall. Depending on the shower valve you purchased, you may have to install the shower valve cartridge as well.

  12. Replace the Stringer

    If you replaced the entire valve assembly, reattach the stringer between the studs in the wall to provide support.

  13. Secure the Valve

    Replace the cap, valve clip, and the retaining nut as needed to secure the valve back into position.

  14. Check for Leaks

    Turn the water back on at either the hot and cold shut-off on each side of the valve or at the main water valve for the home. Check all connections for possible leaks before turning the water back off.

  15. Repair the Drywall

    If you replaced the entire valve assembly, you’ll need to repair the drywall covering the assembly and the stringer. 

    Create a patch with a piece of drywall the size of the hole. Attach furring strips with screws, and screw the patch into the strips. Apply joint tape around the edges of the patch and cover the entire patch with joint compound. Once it dries, sand and paint the area.

  16. Put Your Shower Back Together

    Replace the trim plate and the shower handle. Apply more caulking around the trim plate if necessary to make it water-tight and look good as new.

  17. Turn the Water On

    Turn the water back on, and enjoy your functional shower.

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