Terry Caliendo

ON February 14, 2015

Removing Moen Bathtub Valve with a Broken Stem


My wife and I both work full time, and with a 2 year old, we don't have time to clean our house ourselves anymore.  So we hired a local Las Vegas cleaning service (review to come soon) that comes every two weeks to clean our house.  The cleaners love to break things and then balance them back in a way that looks normal, until we touch it ourselves and the charade comes crumbling down.

The latest thing the cleaners tried to hide was a broken bathtub handle.

Moen Bathtub Handle

My wife went to turn on the bath for our son last night, and when she touched the handle, the whole thing fell off.  Of course my wife was totally surprised.

Normally, the finishing screw that holds the handle comes loose and the handle comes off.  The cleaners will place it back for us to discover later.  That just takes a screwdriver to fix.

This time, however, the handle screw didn't come loose, but the shaft of the valve that turns the water on and off completely broke off.  The whole handle assembly is attached to that valve stem.  The cleaners nicely balanced it in place for my wife to discover.

Our house is 9 years old, so stuff like this is starting to happen.

Thus, I needed to remove the old valve and replace it with a new Moen Replacement Cartridge.

The broken cartridge is not easy to get out and Moen makes a Moen Cartridge Puller that you can use to pull the valve out.

Moen Bathtub Valve Remover / Extractor
Moen Shower Valve Extrator (showing screw that goes into the valve stem)

However, the valve puller screws into the shaft of the valve stem, which in our case broke off (pic below).  So I wasn't able to use the Moen Valve Cartridge Puller.

Moen bathtub valve with broken valve stem

So I went to the hardware store to see what I could find to try and use to pull the valve out.  I decided on a pair of locking grip needle nose pliers. A regular pliers (which I had at home) was too big to fit into and squeeze the valve within the copper case.

At first I tried squeezing the outsides of the plastic area of the valve, but that just slipped off.  Then I just decided to try and lock it on the side of the plastic area around where the stem broke.  I thought the plastic would be too weak and would break.  But it held up and I was able to pull the valve out and replace it with the new  Moen Replacement Cartridge.  I replaced with an OEM part, but if you want to try a non-OEM part, here is a potential Non-OEM Moen Replacement Cartridge that could work.

Using locking needle nose pliers to remove Moen Valve with broken stem


I recently had a couple of people contact me that were having trouble getting the dome cover off of the handle to get at the cartridge above.

That dome should just pull right off, but it may get "stuck" on by water hardness buildup. They both tugged and tugged but could not get it off. Finally, one of them ended up using a Heavy Duty Faucet Handle Puller to get it off:

Heavy Duty Handle Puller

2 comments on “Removing Moen Bathtub Valve with a Broken Stem”

  1. This happened to me about 10 years ago and recently, I noticed the shaft starting to tighten up a little, requiring the kind of force on the handle that broke it the last time. Now, I know that if you always grab the handle firmly and apply torque with no lateral forces, the shaft is unlikely to bend or break, but when bending over to adjust the shower after having been blasted with cold water, such a careful maneuver is hard to pull off. So, in addition to lubricating the shaft, I put an aftermarket cross-shaped porcelain handle in place of the lever Moen had provided. It's a little less intuitive, but it just about guarantees that even when being drenched in cold or hot water, I won't have enough leverage to break it again.

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