How Long Do Shower Cartridges Last?

Faucet design has come a long way since it was first used in the 1700s in baths at the Minoan Palace in Crete. Since then, the faucet has become an important component of many homes around the world.  Although small in size, the faucet changed the way bathrooms look and function.

A shower valve is a mechanism inside the shower assembly. It is responsible for controlling the temperature and water pressure in order to give you a great shower experience. In modern showers, the valve is usually part of the shower cartridge. Most shower cartridges are made of brass and other metals while a few are made from plastic. 

Good shower cartridge brands can last more than 20 years, some even as long as 30 years. 

The right shower cartridge type is essential in maintaining the right water temperature. Abrupt water temperature changes can lead to scalding and bathroom falls and slips. 

Signs that the shower cartridge needs to be replaced

replacing defective ceramic disc cartridge covered with limescale in shower mixer using wrench

There are signs that the shower cartridge needs to be replaced. If you notice any of the items on this list, your cartridge may be up for replacement. 

  1. Water continues to drip even after you turn off the faucet.
  2. The shower handle sometimes slips.
  3. You experience difficulty in turning the shower handle.
  4. The water does not come out even after you turn the shower handle.
  5. The handle grinds when you turn it on or off.
  6. Hot and cold water fails to mix properly. 
  7. You don’t get cold or hot water anymore.

The shower will not work properly if the cartridge is already worn out. The first parts to wear out are those around the shower valve and the rubber rings. These components are prone to corrosion, breakage, and rot and may require to be replaced every once in a while. There are instances when the shower handle has a crack inside and this is causing the grinding noise and water seepage. If that is the issue, the shower can be repaired without replacing the entire assembly.

Types of Shower Cartridges

The classification of a shower cartridge is usually based on what the valve attached to it does although shower accessories brands each have their own cartridge categories. Here are the common types of shower cartridges.

Flow or Control Cartridge

This cartridge regulates the speed of water released from the shower head.

Thermostatic Cartridge

This cartridge controls the water temperature. It is the main component in a mixer shower assembly. It has the capability of compensating for the changes in water pressure and temperature in order to provide your desired thermal state. 

Shower Diverter Cartridge

You will typically see this shower cartridge type if you have a bathtub that doubles up as a shower. The Diverter Cartridge helps you change the course of water from the tub to the shower head and vice versa. 

How to Take Care of Your Shower Cartridge

Good brand modern showers are equipped with cartridges designed to last a long time. In order to keep them in good running condition, you need to use your shower on a regular basis. Rarely used showers tend to go bad faster than those that are frequently utilized. 

You can also consider installing a water conditioner. This can greatly extend the lifespan of your shower cartridges by softening the water before it reaches the shower assembly. The buildup of sediments from hard water is minimized with the use of a water conditioner. 

Knowing When to Replace Your Shower Cartridge

Cartridges, just like any other apparatus, can deteriorate in time. Screws and spools inside the cartridge will eventually get stuck brought about by the buildup of scales from hard water.  

A sure sign that you need to have your shower cartridge replaced is when it does not effectively mix hot and cold water to achieve your desired water temperature. What you mostly get is either extremely cold or extremely hot water. 

Another signal for cartridge replacement is when the water does not reach the shower head anymore.  

When a part of your shower isn’t working properly, you should have it immediately checked by a professional plumber. Leaving a shower problem unchecked can lead to costlier issues in the near future. 

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