View Full Version : Price Pfister 3-handle shower leak

Mr. Pickles
01-16-2008, 09:54 PM
This is my first post. Just looking for some insight into my issues. I have an older PF 3 handle valve in my shower, with middle diverter. As far as I know, its original to the house which was built in 1970. I remodeled a year and a half ago, but the valves seemed ok, so I simply replaced the handles with new ones of the same design. The were a crappy vinyl surround that had leaked, so I replaced the sheet rock around and then tiled the whole thing. I didn't disturb the plumbing other than the spout to fill the tub, and I had the old steel tub resurfaced.

Fast forward 1 1/2 years, and I went to do a very mild demo/remodel of the small half bath off my master on the other side of the wall. I found some sheet rock damage behind the old vanity, which happens to back up to the shower, so I pulled it out. I've got some ugly water damage that's been going for a while, as you can stick a screwdriver into the stud in the center as well as the sill at the bottom. I'm thinking/hoping that its simply an old valve such as

At first, I thought it was the body of the valve, but looking closer, its definately coming from the diverter area, although the cold (right side from inside the shower, left side from the other side of the wall) leaks from the handle as well. Stupid me, I should have replaced the valves while I was there, but whattya do.

The wood is certainly an issue to replace, but is do-able, so I'm hoping for some insight on that valve. Is this a common problem? Should I repair this valve issue (is there a risk of it reoccurring shortly down the road), or would I be better off ripping it all out and replacing with another brand/style? I'm no plumber but I can follow instructions, but my brother is handy, and he's a master tile/granite/bathroom guy (owns his company) and he's offered help. Your thoughts?


01-17-2008, 06:44 AM
It is a simple replacement, but not without some need for caution. Buy a new Price Pfister faucet that has the looks you want. Remove all the parts from the old faucet including the internal seats, (that is important). Then install the new stems and trim from the new faucet, (remember you do not need the seats and if you do not remove the old ones or if you install new ones you will damage then stems). If you did not leave the old black plastic seal rings on the body when you removed the old stems, you have a new lifetime guarantee faucet, assuming the old one is not a Crown Jewel pattern. A picture would help us tell which model you have, in case the above directions have to be modified.


07-27-2013, 02:16 PM

They still make replacements


An old worn out seat and stem. The rubber washer was gone on this.

01-12-2014, 05:07 PM
I replaced the hot water stem, washer and seat in our bath about a year ago. Several months ago, I noticed the bath faucet was leaking again.


I assumed the leak was from the cold water stem/washer/seat as I had not replaced it. I don't know when it had been replaced, if ever.

When I took the stem out on the cold water side, the washer did look worn out and flared. Also, it had unscrewed itself from the stem.

I took the stem to the local big box store to match it, bought the replacement (price pfister pp-493) and came home and installed it.

The faucet was still leaking.

Just to double-check, I pulled the hot water stem to look at it. The washer seemed liked it was in good condition, but I changed it out anyway. I screwed the stem back in and the faucet was still leaking.


The water seems to be very warm to hot coming out leading me to believe it's a problem on the hot water side, but maybe both.

I let this leak go for a while due to work constraints, but just now pulled the hot water stem out to check it. Everything seemed to be fine except that the washer had unscrewed itself from the stem. I put the washer back on the stem and tightened it as much as I could.

I used Rectorseal Tplus2 pipe thread sealant on the stem and seat threads.

Any suggestions for troubleshooting further? I'm at a loss. Thank you.

UPDATE: I realized after reading some other threads that the stem needs to be 1/2 way open when removing and installing the stem. I'm thinking that I failed to do this in the past and that is why the washer (and perhaps the seat) was coming unscrewed.

About 20 minutes ago, I opened the hot water faucet and tightened up the stem, then closed the faucet.

I just checked the faucet and now the water is coming out cold. It was previously coming out hot.

I'm thinking the same thing might be happening on the cold water side. Perhaps the seat came unscrewed while removing the stem without having it opened at least 1/2 way.

Also, I noticed some (primarily HJ) recommend replacing these price pfister stem and washers with 1/4 turn ceramic cartridges.

Can anyone tell me the procedure and price for that type of conversion?

Many thanks!

01-12-2014, 06:03 PM
As you have already read, open the valve on the stem before you screw it in. See if that solves the problem. If it does not since you have recently replaced both stems and seats and it is leaking again I would just replace the washers and see if that will fix it.




01-12-2014, 09:15 PM
Thanks for the replies.

I took both stems (hot and cold) off, checked the seats for tightness (they seemed very tight), replaced the washers with new ones and reinstalled the stems.

I made sure that the valves were open when I removed the stems and when I replaced them.

I closed both hot and cold faucets and turned the water back on at the main.

The faucet is still dripping!!! (dripping cold water at this time)

I'm not sure what to do at this point. The washers I replaced were only a couple of weeks old, if that. They looked like they had formed around the seats, but seemed to be in good condition.

The only other thing I can think of is that I have the wrong stem, but it looked identical to the one I took to the store and the guy in the plumbing department helped me match it up...

Just wondering if I should go to 1/4 turn ceramic valves at this point.

Any other suggestions are much appreciated. This one's got me stumped.

I've replaced valve stems in other showers and baths and never had this problem before. I think the others were American Standard.

01-13-2014, 05:33 AM
quote; Just wondering if I should go to 1/4 turn ceramic valves at this point.

If you do, have a plumber do it, otherwise you may ruin the valve body in the wall, and you have to replace ALL the exposed trim for the conversion. NOWHERE in your posting do you mention REPLACING the seats inside the faucet, (being "tight" does NOT mean they are not worn), and that is probably where you problem is.

01-13-2014, 05:45 AM

Change the seats as well as the washers. Just "tightening" them is not good enough.

01-14-2014, 01:42 PM
hj and dj2 - thank you for the replies. I did change the seats and washers to new on both hot and cold sides. It is still leaking.

Looks like we may have to go with the ceramic valves. I can't think of what else the problem might be.

hj, you mention using a plumber for ceramic valve install. Just out of curiosity, how could the valve body be damaged on install?

Thanks again for the help.

01-18-2014, 05:55 PM

I went to the local plumbing supply and was going to buy the ceramic valves. They were about $38 a piece.

I was talking with the counter guys and also a plumber who was there and they couldn't figure out why the tub faucet would still be dripping after replacing the stems, seats and washers.

The plumber mentioned that he puts beveled washers on the stems when he replaces them. He, as well as the guys at the counter recommend I try that before buying the ceramic valves. So, I bought the beveled washers and installed them. Still dripping same as before.

I came across a comment by hj on another forum @ http://www.****.com/forum/read.php?1,483941

On it he writes when referring to Price Pfister shower valve stem installation problem:

"The worst case scenario, and an unfixable one, would be if you installed the stems 'incorrectly' and damaged the internal web which holds the seat, but that usually results in a bigger leak than a 'drip'."

Ever since I read that, I've been concerned that perhaps I damaged the "internal web" which holds the seat by installing the stem without having the faucet in the open position.

Can anyone tell me more about this "internal web" and how I would know if it is damaged?

Is it brass and, if so, how would it get damaged?

I also see various comments on whether to use any sealant on the seat threads. I did put Tplus2 rectorseal sealant on the seat threads, but can't imagine that would cause the amount of water dripping that I am currently experiencing.

But, please tell me if I am wrong on that assumption.

Thanks again. I really appreciate this forum for its valuable advice.

01-19-2014, 06:07 AM
The seat screws into a fairly thin "web" at the bottom of the faucet. IF you install the stem without it being all the way open, the stem WILL contact the seat before it is tight, and the process of finally tightening the stem WILL put pressure on the seat which WILL crack the web it is attached to. A small crack will cause a leak, a large one will detach the seat from the valve and cause a BIG leak, but neither one can be repaired and the body inside the wall has to be replaced. When a customer did this in his house and I told them what had happened, the wife told him that she was "taking his tool kit away from him", because the only way to access the valve was to cut a hole in the fiberglass shower on the other side of the wall. Converting to ceramic seal stems can do the same thing if it is not done correctly. I have used ANY sealant on faucet seats when I install them. They are a metal to metal machined seal.

01-19-2014, 06:19 AM
The seat could be cross threaded. That would cause it to be at a slight angle and it may leak.

01-19-2014, 12:25 PM
Thanks hj and Smooky - hopefully it is only cross-threaded, otherwise it looks like we'll have to break the wall open and replace the valves...

I'll check the seat threads again....thought I installed correctly, but will take them out and re-install just to be sure...

01-19-2014, 12:52 PM
For those who may come along afterwards, here is a picture of the valve showing the seat "web" that hj writes about:


If you right click on the image, you can choose "view image" to make it larger...at least in the Firefox browser.

01-19-2014, 04:51 PM
Final Update (Hopefully!):

On a final attempt before ripping into the wall, I disassembled both hot and cold stems and seats and re-installed same.

I cleaned the pipe dope off the hot water side seat. Just had plumber's grease on the cold water seat, but cleaned that off, too. I paid special attention to not cross-thread the seats when installing.

LONG story short, I turned the water back on and NO LEAKS!!! ;);););)

I don't know if it was the pipe dope or the seats were cross-threaded, but all seems to be working now.

Thank you to everyone who provided suggestions and helped me through this situation.

01-20-2014, 05:57 AM
You would have to be a "total klutz" to cross thread a seat, and once you did, you would NEVER get a new one to screw in properly unless you retapped the thread. Grease, tape, or pipe dope would NOT cause a leak, they are just not necessary. Whatever you did the second time is what you should have done originally, but we cannot tell you why it leaked after you repaired it.

01-20-2014, 04:07 PM
You would have to be a "total klutz" to cross thread a seat, and once you did, you would NEVER get a new one to screw in properly unless you retapped the thread. Grease, tape, or pipe dope would NOT cause a leak, they are just not necessary. Whatever you did the second time is what you should have done originally, but we cannot tell you why it leaked after you repaired it.

That's what I thought, too. I was pretty sure I didn't cross thread the seat and didn't think the pipe dope would cause a leak. So, I have no idea how unistalling and re-installing fixed the problem. I did take a Q-tip and cleaned the threads that the seat goes into...but didn't think that would have fixed the leak.

Whatever it was, I'm glad it worked and you definitely put the fear of God into me about installing or removing the stem without opening the faucet. I don't think I'll make that mistake again...:rolleyes: