How to Identify Shower Faucet Cartridge Type and Brand

Updated on May 17, 2020
Layne Holmes profile image

I learned valuable DIY skills from my dad who was an electrical engineer and physicist.

Shower Faucet (Valve/Stem) Cartridge Identification & Repairs
Shower Faucet (Valve/Stem) Cartridge Identification & Repairs | Source

Identifying the Brand/Manufacturer of Your Shower Faucet

Faucets used to be standardized and all have similar internal parts but for a different appearance and style on the outside. The replacement parts could be ordered from multiple suppliers, making food an easy fix. Today, most brands have their own specifications and parts.

Now there is variance in stems (cartridges), valves, and splines. Because of this, you will need to know how to identify the brand of your faucet before you can fix it. Knowing what you're working with makes it easier to disassemble and fix. You can identify this by:

  1. Looking for the brand.
  2. Using a faucet cartridge identification (chart).

Shower or sink faucet.
Shower or sink faucet. | Source

Shower Faucet Type Identification

You can identify your faucet's brand by looking for a mark that indicates who made it. It will be engraved, printed, or laser-etched. Some of the most common brands include:

Logos of Major Faucet Brands

American Standard
Chicago Faucets
Glacier Bay
Newport Brass
Price Pfister
Replacing parts of a faucet.
Replacing parts of a faucet. | Source

What Kind of Shower Faucet Do I Have?

If you cannot locate any markings on the faucet, you can start disassembling it; start with the handle. You'll be able to measure the cartridge (stem) length of the faucet or resort to the number of splines.

How to Take Apart a Shower Faucet

Step 1

First start by turning off the water supply; this can be done by locating the cut-off valves (there will be one for hot and one for cold). If you are working on the shower, you will have to locate the main water valve for the house which will be outside along the house or building.

Step 2

If you need to remove the handle, you can do this by using a screwdriver set (Allen wrenches work well)—this will depend on the type of handle.

  • If you are working on a single-lever handle, you will have to locate a small set-crew in the handle and use an Allen wrench.
  • If you are working with a crystal handle, there will likely be a plastic cover that you can pop off with a flat-head screwdriver. There you will be able to access the stem with a Phillips screwdriver.
  • If you are with with a faucet with two handles, remove the decorate cap/plastic cover (pry it off with a Phillips screwdriver).

Step 3

Once the screws are removed, you can pull the stem and handle out—they often come out together. You may have to wiggle the stem as you gently pull it out disengage.

Moen Disassembly and Installation Instructions

Figuring Out Where It's Leaking or Broken

Now it's time to locate the issue at hand. If you are dealing with a leak, you will likely notice that the rubber O-ring or washers have worn out (often due to age). Rubber washer replacements are cheap and easy to fix. Consider bringing your parts into the local hardware store (plumbing shops work well, too). They will be able to identify your faucet type and which part has failed. They can also help you with replacements.

How to Identify the Cartridge Brand

You can also save money by identifying the cartridge brand. Do this by measuring the length and number of splines. One you have this information, you can compare them to a reference. Please take a look at this Interline Brand cartridge identification chart PDF.

A Pioneer Shower Faucet Taken Apart
A Pioneer Shower Faucet Taken Apart | Source

How to Use a Faucet (Valve/Stem) Cartridge Identification Chart

  1. Use a caliper or ruler and measure the cartridge. Do this by measuring from the base to the tip (from seat to splines).
  2. Pay attention to the length tier of your cartridge (Lengths range from 1–12).
  3. Next, identify the broach pattern with the broach chart (see page B-5).
  4. Find your stem's length tier (as highlighted on the right/left of each page).
  5. Find the matching broach pattern (alongside the cartridge photos). Make sure it is correct.
  6. Next, you will take note of the part numbers that you will need.

Different types of shower faucets require different disassembly.
Different types of shower faucets require different disassembly. | Source

Additional Tips for Repairing Shower Faucets

  • Pay attention to warranties: Keep all paperwork and documentation of your faucet type and model; if it's under warranty, you may qualify for free replacement parts if you contact the manufacturer.
  • Know where your brand supplies: Brands like Pfister don't sell parts in local hardware stores; do check Amazon, however, as many parts can be found here and delivery time is as fast as 1–3 days.
  • Take note of which parts are interchangeable: Keep in mind that some rubber seats, O-rings, and springs may not be interchangeable. They can look similar between brands, but they may not be the same. Delta valve seats, for example, look very similar to Pfister's design, but the diameters are different which will definitely result in leaks and other problems.

Share your tips and advice below. If you have outstanding questions or are uncertain about the tips listed above, always resort to a professional. Best of luck!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2019 Layne Holmes

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