Shower Won’t Turn Off? Here’s Why

It’s not something we would expect to be worried about – the shower won’t turn off. Sure, we’ve all had a moment where it wouldn’t turn on, but most haven’t experienced the opposite – so what should you even do? Well, first of all, remain calm. This has both a temporary (though less than ideal) and permanent fix, you just need to find it. Start by turning off the water at your main, and then we can get into troubleshooting.

If your shower won’t turn off, you’ll first need to turn off the water at the main. Once that’s done, you’ll need to troubleshoot and replace one (or more) parts, as well as tighten up your shower handle.

There are a few things that could have gone wrong here, so let’s get right into things, yeah?

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What Could Have Gone Wrong

Let’s start by talking about what could have gone wrong. We can address how to fix each issue momentarily, but first we’ll get a good list going:

  1. Faucet Handle: Occasionally, the faucet handle screw can come a bit loose. This causes your shower to stop wanting to turn off. Luckily, the fix is quite easy – tighten the screw.
  2. Shower Cartridge: While the name may be a bit misleading, a shower cartridge is one of a number of valves that are in your shower’s setup. Occasionally, the cartridge (like all things in life) can fail, leading you to the inability to turn off the shower. It’ll take a bit of finagling, but you can replace this yourself in a matter of an hour or so with the right tools.
  3. Hot/Cold Assembly: This really depends on the type of shower you have. Generally, replacing the shower cartridge should solve this issue for you, but occasionally it won’t. When that’s the case, you’ll need to replace individual parts of your faucet assembly. Again, this is doable in an hour or so, assuming you have the right tools and a bit of patience.
  4. Ball Faucet: This is (as the name implies) the type of faucet controller that works in a 3D fashion, rather than simply left/right. Sometimes they need to be replaced or tightened up, which can be done in relatively little time.

Okay, now that the potential causes are out of the way, let’s talk fixes.

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Shower Won’t Turn Off: Fixing the Problem

Okay, we’ve got four fixes to cover. Let’s start with the faucet handle, as it’s super easy to fix. Each of these will require a replacement part, some pliers, a screwdriver, and a wrench.

And before we get any further, just a quick reminder – turn off your water at the main before doing any of this. You don’t want a mess while trying to perform these repairs.

Faucet Handle

This is so easy that you’ll likely be surprised that you couldn’t figure it out yourself. Are you ready?

What you need to do is pry loose the cover of your shower faucet. You’ll see a screw (usually in the middle of the handle). Tighten it. Once you’ve done that, turn water back on at the main and test the faucet handle. If you can turn it on and off as normal, you’ve done it! If not, move down the list, in order.

Shower Cartridge

Again, you’re going to want to start with turning off the water. With that done, open a faucet in another room. This will ensure your hot/cold water is off, and relieve any pressure that’s in the plumbing. Once water stops coming out of the faucet, you can go back to the bathroom. Now, here’s what to do:

  1. Cover your drain to prevent loosing screws or other important bits down the drain. That would be awkward…
  2. Remove the handle of your faucet, exposing the screw. Unscrew this screw and remove the handle.
  3. You’ll see the cartridge next, usually screwed and clipped in place. Unscrew any screws holding it in place.
  4. Unclip the cartridge, and pry it loose with pliers keeping it. Take a photo to remember exactly how everything goes in place.
    1. If you can’t get it loose with a little bit of force, call a plumber. You can damage the assembly with too much force. If it’s stuck, you want a professional dealing with it.
  5. Take your new cartridge and the lube that it came with out. Apply lube to the cartridge slot (this allows it to slide into place easily).
  6. Place the new cartridge in exactly as the old one was, lining it up with the hot/cold sections of its slot.
  7. Reassemble your shower faucet and test the new cartridge. If it works, great! If not, move down the list.

Hot & Cold Assembly

Prepare for this just like you did for the cartridge bit. That includes turning off your water and running a faucet to relieve the pressure in your pipes. Once that’s done, you can come back and complete parts 1 and 2 of the above list. Now:

  1. Locate the beauty ring. This is the round metal flange that frames the area – remove it. Take photos before each step to ensure you have everything right at the end.
  2. Remove the escutcheon plate, the metal plate covering the hole in the wall at the base.
  3. Use a wrench to loosen and pull out your hot and cold shower valves. There will be two, one on each side of the faucet. You should see a spring assembly inside if you have the right part.
  4. Put in your replacement valve assembly and tighten it with a wrench, exactly as the previous one was placed.
  5. Put everything back in its place, following the photos you took.
  6. Turn your water back on and test the shower. If it doesn’t work, move on to the last potential fix.

Ball Faucet

Again, turn off the water and depressurise a nearby faucet. Now, remove the handle to the shower faucet, just like step 1 of the previous two lists. Next:

  1. Remove the handle cap – be careful and gentle. You don’t want to damage the handle cap here. Take photos before and after this step and each subsequent one. This will help with accurate reinstallation.
  2. Remove the ball and connecting equipment.
  3. Replace the seats and springs where the ball was. You can usually buy a repair kit for the specific ball faucet you have, making this process much easier.
  4. Reinstall everything where it was, following the pictures you took.
  5. Test.

If this didn’t resolve your issue, turn the water back off and call your plumber. You’ll want to get this resolved quickly so that you don’t waste water (and money) and are able to shower without having to run naked to shut off the water when finished.

Final Thoughts

If you followed one (or more) of these guides properly, you should have resolved the issue. Always start with the easiest solution first, working your way through repairs until you find the right one. And never, ever forget to turn off water at the main and depressurise a nearby tap. If you do, you’ll be greeted by an influx of unwanted (usually very cold) water.

Should none of these solutions work, it’s time to call in the big guns – and that’s okay. This isn’t a great problem to have, and you’ll want to get it sorted quickly. Luckily, plumbers are generally pretty good at that exact thing. It is their job, after all.