A post almost seven years in the making

We built our house eleven years ago.  One of the “features” of the house Moen brand faucets.  Having spent just short of ten years working in a hardware store, and was familiar with (or I thought I was familiar with) the quality of Moen brand faucets.

Over the next three years, I had three failures of the kitchen faucet, one failure of the shower faucet, and one failure of the tub faucet.

Moen’s customer service has been GREAT.  All faucets were covered under their (extensive) warrantee, so it was only a matter of calling them up, and ordering the part at no cost.  Shipping was even covered!

tub1The tub problem was that the faucet’s plastic handle cracked and broke.  To use the tub, I would have had to run out and buy a new handle, or order one for replacement.  By this time, I think I was on a first name basis with Moen’s Customer service, so I just called up and ordered a new one.

In the mean time, I broke out the trusty vice grip and continued using the tub.

Through a series of mishaps (needing a new stem because vice grip stripped the stem, multiple occurrences of misplaced parts, and (let’s be honest here) a severe case of procrastination)  days turned into weeks.  Weeks, turned into months.  Months turned into years.  (Yup folks… Years (plural))  More that six to be exact.

During Christmas, a family friend (who had moved to California) had come over.  She had not been to our house in four years.  After coming out of our bathroom, she jokingly teased me about the vice grip tub faucet handle…This motivated me to finally get this job done!  I promised her that next time she came, the tub facet would be repaired…

tub2Not long after Christmas, the Mother of Five found the part I had misplaced!!  Huzzah!  I could finally repair the tub faucet!  After a couple of attempts to do so failed (because the washing machine was running, the dishwasher was running, the tub was needed) I finally had a day I could do it!! 

Moen faucets have a cartridge insert.  Replacing the cartridge is supposed to be only a matter of pulling out a pin and sliding out the old cartridge…  “Supposed to be” is the key phrase here folks… 

Murphy’s Law – An old saying that means "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong".  I think at times, Murphy wrote that law – JUST FOR ME!

I gathered up the tools needed, and began the process.  Vice grip removed with only a minor setback in that the inner workings had rusted together over the past “way too many” years.

Before long the vice grip was off, and I pulled the pin that held the stem in place… Now (I told myself) – I just need to “pop” the old stem out and push the new one in place!


Pull, and pull, and twist, and twist, and tug, and tug, and turn, and turn, and… Well you get the idea… I even hopped up on the little ledge, and tugged at the thing with ALL my might, it would not budge, until… 

>>POP<<  -  The stem busted off…  Sigh…

Now I had NOTHING to grip to get the old stem out.  Over the next couple of hours,  I had to carefully (did not want to scratch the inner brass liner that housed the stem) poke, prod, and chisel the old stem out of it’s housing.  It was a painfully excruciating and daunting task, But in the end, I was triumphant over the old stem.

Busting the old piece out (bit by bit) did eventually work, but it created a set of it’s own little problems.  As I dug my way down through the stem (and as the little bits broke off) some of the tiniest pieces fell down the inlets into the faucet, and back into the pipes of the house.  If I did not get them out of there before installing the new stem, they would get caught, and block water going to the valve.

tub4You can see the inlet in the photo (with the red arrow).  Tiny pieces (like in the photo on the upper left) fell into two of the little slots.  To get the bits out, I had to fabricate a plastic “waterfalls” that would prevent water from going where I did not want it to go, then turn the water on (unrestricted - without the valve in place) so the water pressure would “blow” the bits out of the lines. 

Since “Murphy” and his law were growing tired of me – This portion of the project went very well!

Once the lines were cleaned, and the valve box dry, I had to use some emery cloth to remove as much of the mineral deposits (green in the photo to the left) from the housing.

The new stem installed pretty easily, but the stem holder (pin) did give me a bit of a struggle.  I ended up chipping a bathroom tile while tapping the pin back in place (Thankfully the chipped tile is under the cowling and not visible). 

tub5I installed the replacement handle, and for the first time in just about seven years, laid my eyes upon the bathtub faucet as looked eleven years ago!  New!  Pristine!  Shiny and sparkling! 

With fingers crossed, I turned the water supply to the house back on, bled air out of the water pipes, and turned on the tub faucet.  NO LEAKS!  Works as well as it did the day we moved in the house, except…

The Hot and Cold were reversed!!

Since we lived with a vice grip for a faucet handle for the past (almost) seven years – We can put up with reversed hot and cold… at least for a while! 

Be sure to stop back sometime in the next seven years and ask me if my tub faucet is still running hot water from the cold setting, and cold water from the hot setting! 

Oh, and on a positive note!  I only lost one screwdriver down the hole where the faucet goes through the tile.  It’s about a two foot drop, and the hole is too thin for even the tiniest arms.  If you are ever in need of a small thin (and slightly warn) slotted screwdriver – I know where you can find one!

(All photos are click-able for larger views)


  1. David,
    I don't think that faucet is compliant with the building code. I trust you will contact your local building inspector for a way to be compliant. Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated . .

  2. My Vice Grips rusted and broke in about 6 weeks time. How the heck did yours last so long?

  3. These projects never go as smoothly as planned.
    You know when your friend comes back she is going to poke fun at the reversed hot & cold water.

  4. A little duct tape and a sharpie marker will fix that whole 'hot and cold' issue.
    Congrats on completing your project.

  5. It wasn't quite 7 years, but my only hose bibb was plier operated for way too long. Fixed now. Nice.

    I just finished my 6 year bath remodel and used all Moen faucets. My ex-plumber (I "fired" him and finished the job myself) broke a part on the shower assembly and Moen was very gracious to replace it, even though it had nothing to do with their workmanship.

    And, I have just the tool for that MIA screwdriver. It looks like a telescoping radio antenna with a tiny, but strong, magnet on the end. My F-I-L picked it up for me at a flea market. Very handy!


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