Shower Won’t Stop Running: Causes and Fixes

When your shower keeps dripping or running even after turning it off, it’s usually annoying besides significantly increasing your water and electricity bills. The fix to such an issue is based on what would be causing it and this can be caused by a list of problems. 

If your shower won’t stop running, the causes are a loose faucet and a faulty cartridge or faulty valve. To fix a shower that won’t stop running, tighten the faucet and replace the faulty cartridge or valve. These are solutions you can perform at home with the right tools and, for the cartridge and valve, the right replacements. 

Shower Won't Stop Running

Water coming out of shower head when off

Your plumbing system has lots of seals and gaskets, valves and cartridges that keep the water from flowing when you don’t need it to flow and allows it to flow when you need it to. When one of these parts isn’t working correctly, your shower may not stop running even when you shut it off. 

Some of the reasons why your shower won’t turn off include the following:

1. Loose faucet

Shower faucets (and all faucets) have a small screw in the handle which holds them in place. For the faucet to turn the water on and off without leaks, this screw needs to be at its tightest. When the faucet screw is loose, the faucet won’t be strong enough to provide a tight seal when you shut off the water. This leads to leaks in the shower head. 

At times, the shower faucet won’t turn off since the screw in the handle is either broken or loose. Other times, the shower faucet won’t turn off all the way since it’s stuck or loose hence it keeps slipping off. If you notice that the shower faucet won’t turn on no matter how many times you turn it, a loose or stuck faucet screw is the reason.  

2. Faulty cartridge or valve

A shower cartridge has the role of regulating the flow and temperature of the water as you turn the handle. A shower valve also regulates the flow and temperature of the water and the two are used interchangeably. 

When the cartridge or valve is faulty, the water from the mains supply will keep flowing to the showerhead even when you’ve turned it off. This is because the valve or cartridge won’t provide a tight seal at the control knob. 

How do you fix a shower that won’t stop running?

The solutions to the above problems are as follows:

Loose faucetTighten the faucet
Faulty cartridgeReplace the cartridge
Faulty valve Replace the valve

1. Tighten the faucet

You can tighten the shower faucet as follows:

  1. Turn off the water from the mains supply to the bathroom. 
  2. Use a flat-blade screw-driver or other sharp tool to open the cover plate on the faucet. 
  3. Tighten the handle screw underneath the cover either with a screwdriver or spanner as required. 
  4. Reinstall the cover plate on the faucet. 
  5. Turn on the water at the mains then turn it off at the faucet to check whether the solution worked or not. 

If you don’t see the shower running or any other leaks, it worked. If the shower won’t shut off still, repeat the process of tightening the faucet and do it properly this time. 

2. Replace the cartridge or valve

To replace the faulty valve or cartridge, follow these steps:

  1. First, turn off the water at the mains leading to the whole bathroom. You can confirm if it worked by turning on any tap or faucet in the bathroom. 
  2. Cover the shower drain to prevent the loss of any screws and other small parts while you’re working. 
  3. Identify the cover plate on the faucet then ply it open with a sharp object. 
  4. Turn the screw or nut in it counterclockwise to release it. Remove the handle as well. 
  5. This screw will also be the one holding the cartridge in place and should allow you to remove the cartridge by sliding it off. Do this carefully to avoid losing the small parts some of which, like the clip, will be used with the new cartridge. 
  6. Apply the lubricant that comes with the new cartridge or use one of your own. 
  7. Align the cartridge with the hot and cold parts of the water inlet exactly like the one you removed. 
  8. Insert the cartridge then the handle followed by the bolt in the middle of the handle. Tighten the bolt by turning it in a clockwise manner till it’s tight. 

The same procedure will be used to replace the shower valve as long as you have the right shower valve type for your bathroom. You can test the integrity of the new cartridge by turning the mains water on and the shower faucet off. 

If the shower handle broke off without running, you need to replace the handle with a new one by turning off the water at the mains, using a wrench to remove the broken handle then replacing it with the new handle. Make sure the right shower valve height is used in this procedure as well. Turn on the water afterwards.

Why does my tub and shower run at the same time?

When your tub continues to run when you turn on the shower, the problem will be a faulty shower diverter valve. The shower diverter valve controls the flow of water between the shower and tub spout such that only one works at a single time. When it’s damaged, clogged or malfunctioning for one reason or the other, water can either flow to the tub and shower at the same time or neither of them. 

You can fix the issue of water coming out of the tub and shower at once through the following steps: 

  1. Close the water at the mains to the bathroom. 
  2. Open the shower diverter valve by removing any nuts, screws and bolts. 
  3. Check whether it is damaged or clogged. 
  4. If clogged, clean it with a soft brush and by blowing air into it. 
  5. If it damaged, you should replace it with a new one of the same exact type and dimensions. 

This should restore the normal workings of your shower and tub.

Moen shower won’t turn off

When a Moen shower won’t turn off, the cause is a faulty cartridge which needs to be replaced. The replacement procedure is slightly different to the other types of cartridges and it’s replaced as follows:

  1. Shut off the water supply at the mains then cover the drains to protect the small parts.
  2. Pry the plastic over off the top of the control valve to reach the screw in the center of the handle. 
  3. Using a screwdriver, unscrew the pair of screws holding the escutcheon plate in place then pull the plate from the wall. The plate can be slowly pried off the wall with a screwdriver or other flat object. 
  4. Slide the stop tube off the cartridge by pulling it towards you. 
  5. Pull off the U-shaped cartridge from the valve body using a pair of pliers. 
  6. Carefully slide the small spacer washer off the shaft then set it aside. 
  7. Check the packaging of the new cartridge for a nut-like tool in white color. This tool should be slipped over the shaft to interlock with the old cartridge. Holding this toll with pliers, turn it in back-and-forth motions until the cartridge is released from the valve body. Remove the tool using a pair of pliers then use the pliers to grasp the cartridge and pull it out of the valve body. 
  8. Unwrap the new cartridge then slip it into the valve body till the very end. Put the nut tool on the cartridge then use it to properly align the cartridge with the valve body. The ears on the cartridge ought to be at the top and bottom. 
  9. Return the U-shaped retainer clip to the valve body and snap it in place. Make sure there is a snap otherwise readjust the cartridge before trying again. 
  10. Reinstall all other pieces including the faucet knob in the order in which you removed them. 

Test the integrity of the new cartridge by turning on the mains then checking if there are leaks when you turn off the knob. With Moen shower heads such as Moen Magnetix being quite popular, this procedure will help you keep them working for longer.

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