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Delta Ball-Style Shower and Kitchen Faucet Repair
Before we talk about how to fix a leaky handle ball-style shower faucet I think it would be helpful for our readers to know what we are referring to. Delta Founder Alex Manoogian invented the first successful ball style valve in 1954. After incorporating the company, the valve was used in kitchen sink faucets only. It wasn’t until 1960 that the design was used for the shower faucet. It was certainly unique; it was a washerless, single handle and used very few parts. Most companies like Moen, Kohler and American Standard were trying to perfect a cylinder type cartridge. One of the cool things about Delta’s Ball Style cartridge is that they used it for just about everything; kitchen faucets, lavatory faucets, and the shower valve, thereby reducing manufacturing costs. One style cartridge to do it all.
The ball-style wasn’t without its issues though. The entire ball moved inside the valve body and although it’s an efficient ball and socket design, if any debris got caught in the body it would score and scratch the brass ball that leads to leaking and or malfunctioning. One-way Delta improved the valve is by changing the material of the ball to stainless steel around 1994. Delta eventually phased out this type of valve over the years, but the fact remains that there are millions of these faucets installed throughout the United States and people need to know how to fix them. Please see the step by step guide on how to fix below:
Step 1. Shut the water supply off to the valve – If you have a shower valve with integral stops this is an easy step. If not, you may have a ball valve that isolates the water to that particular bathroom or in a worst-case scenario you may have to shut the water main down to do the repair.
Step 2. Remove The Handle – There is a cap over the handle screw that can be popped off with a flat head screwdriver or a butter knife. You can now use a Philips head screwdriver to remove the handle.
Step 3. (MAKE SURE THE WATER IS TURNED OFF) In this step if the water isn’t turned off you’re gonna make a mess. You now want to grab your channel locks and gently back off the dome nut that is holding the cartridge in place. Do not muscle the dome nut if it doesn’t come off right away. You can mar the dome nut or even crack the valve in this process if you aren’t careful. Because you may have mineral buildup around the valve you can tap on it a bit to loosen the nut.
Step 4. Gently pull out the ball and cam guide. If it’s stainless steel the valve has either been rebuilt before or it’s a new style valve. If it’s brass it’s fairly dated. Either way, you’re getting close to the end.
Step 5. Take a flashlight and look inside the valve body. You will notice two large portholes at the top of the valve. These two orifices house the seals and springs. Use a Phillips head screwdriver to remove each rubber seat and spring. You may have to work the screwdriver around a bit to loosen the rubber gasket. Sometimes they stuck with scale and film. There is a tool that comes with some of the Delta repair kits that you can use to easily remove the seat and spring after it’s loose enough. If you have one feel free to use, if not you can bend a wire coat hanger (NO WIRE HANGERS!) to do the job. There are two different types of springs used in these valves, a short cone-shaped spring or a longer cylindrical spring. You want to make sure you replace them with the same ones you removed.
Step 6. Grab your new ball and handle and the new seats and springs. Apply a thin coating of silicone paste to the ball, seats, and springs. Insert the springs into the rubber seats and use the Phillips heads screwdriver or tool to insert them back into the portholes. Here is a pro-tip. Most plumbers have sausage fingers, these aren’t hands built for surgery. Put a dollop of silicone grease on your pointer finger and place the seat on the silicone. It should stick to it pretty firmly. Now insert the seat and springs. No tool necessary.
Step 7. Insert the new ball and stem back into the valve and place the cam over the stem. There is a notch on the cam cover that fits into a notch on the valve body that lets you know it’s in the correct spot.
Step 8. Add some silicone paste to the thread of the dome cover and tighten. Do not overtighten. Make sure the cam assembly remains vertical while tightening. There is a small ring that needs to be tightened on the cam that adjusts the tension on the valve. Most valves come with a Delta tool to adjust this ring. Adjust tension to your liking. Please note if you don’t tighten enough you won’t fully seat the valve, if you tighten too much you’ll have a difficult time moving the handle.
Step 9. Install Handle.
Step 10. Turn on the water and test the valve.
If everything is working properly your job is complete.
The cool think about this DIY tutorial is that you can also use the same method to replace the seats on a Delta kitchen or lavatory faucet if you still have one that uses it. Delta has moved away from this type of valve but there are millions still in use. I hope this helps and thanks for reading.