Old Shower Valve Types: How To Identify Brand And Repair

Do you have trouble with an older shower valve? Repairing it could help you save some money compared to replacing it. The only problem is that not old shower valve types can be repaired in the same way. Finding out who manufactured your valve is the first step to identifying and fixing the problem. But if there is no brand name anywhere in sight, how to find out who made it?

The easiest way to identify an old shower valve brand is by checking the brand on the handle to narrow down your search. You may also find a shower stem identification number printed or engraved on the valve, or you could search the make and model based on the stem length or the cartridge length and shape.

How To Identify Old Shower Valve Manufacturer

Whether you have an old-style, two-handle shower valve or a more modern, single-handle one, the old shower valve identification process is similar. The quick steps below will teach you how to find the fitting manufacturer like a pro.

1. Search the brand logo or name on handles 

The first thing to do when trying to identify your shower valve type is to look for clues on the shower handles and trim.

While most brands today print or engrave their brand name or logo on the handles or escutcheon plates, older shower valves may miss this information. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt looking behind the shower handle or at the center of the trim plate for a brand name or manufacturer’s symbol

A crucial thing to remember is that not all manufacturers use the full brand name. Kohler, for instance, marks most of its faucets and shower valves with a K. The same goes for Moen – the brand marks most of its old and new shower valves with an M.

Other brands like Delta, Price Pfister, and American Standard generally print their entire name on the faucet

Once you find the brand name, use it to narrow down your search and use the stem characteristics to identify the specific model. 

Note: When identifying the brand of an old shower valve, remember that previous owners or plumbers might have used aftermarket parts instead of original ones. Thus, you should always search for the specific stem model in the Central Components Company plumbing book and compare it with your own to correctly identify the valve’s make and model.

2. Remove the handles

Whether or not you found the brand name, logo, or symbol on the shower handles or trim, it is essential to remove the stem and compare it with similar models listed on the Central Components Company website or plumbing book.

Start by turning off the water supply and draining the pipes. To drain the pipes, turn on the highest faucet in your house, then turn on the lowest one. Wait for the water to stop flowing, then you can start working on the shower handles.

Remove a single-lever shower handle 

Locate the set screw near the back of the handle and use an Allen wrench to unfasten it. If your shower has a crystal handle, you’ll have to pop off the plastic cover first and unscrew the fastener located under it. You can then pull the handle out of the stem.

Remove a two-handle faucet 

Each handle of a two-handle faucet is fastened to the stem with a set screw placed behind a decorative cap. Pop open the cap with a flathead screwdriver and unfasten the set screw. Pull the handles off the stems to expose the shower valve.

3. Remove the stem/cartridge

Depending on how old your shower is, it could have a stem or a cartridge. The main difference is that stems may have components that come apart, whereas cartridges are generally self-contained. 

Regardless, both stems and cartridges are screwed onto the shower valve. Use a pair of pliers to unstuck them, then unfasten by hand until the component comes out.

Shower stems and cartridges are not universal. Some brands mark them with a symbol, logo, or brand name. However, you can still identify the type easily by using a cartridge identification chart. 

4. Identify the cartridge 

If your shower cartridge is not marked in any way, you can use the method below to identify it faster: 

  1. Measure the length of the cartridge from its seat (base) to the splines (tip) with a ruler or caliper. 
  2. Consult your plumbing book (or its online version) to find the length tier of the cartridge.
  3. Next, identify the broach pattern and find it in the book.
  4. Find the length of the stem and the matching broach pattern on the side of the cartridge pictures. 
  5. Use the cartridge measurements and design to identify the numbers of the parts matching it. You can now find the manufacturer based on the parts number.

5. Repair your shower valve

The steps above can help you identify your shower’s brand and the specific valve model you have. Using this information, you can get a matching shower valve or, if it’s not in production anymore, you can contact the manufacturer and see if they can provide replacement parts. 

In most cases, replacing the cartridge or stem can help solve the problem. If it doesn’t – or if your shower is so old that you can’t find replacement parts – you may have to upgrade the entire shower system and install a new valve.

Final Thoughts 

Identifying an old shower’s brand could seem tedious, but the task is simpler than you think. All you need is a copy of the Central Components Company plumbing book, a few tools to take apart your shower, and a ruler or caliper for measurements. Finding your specific model in the book may require a bit of patience and concentration, but this is the only way to ensure that you find the right model and brand. We hope this guide can help you identify your old shower brand so that you can repair it in no time.

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