What You Need To Do When Your Shower Won’t Turn Off

You've finished your shower and turned off the faucet, but water continues to pour out the faucet or showerhead

First things first, don't panic. Your main water shut off should be located in your basement near the front foundation wall. It's usually located within the first several feet of where the main water enters. The handle can be a "wheel" or a lever. If you don't have a basement, your water shut off should be in your crawl space near your water heater.

Turning off the water at the main shut off valve will turn off the water throughout your entire home, so your shower should stop running. Now you just need to figure out how to fix your shower.

Tighten The Faucet Handle

shower handle

While reasons vary for a shower continuing to run, you should start with the easiest solutions. Take a flathead screwdriver and pry underneath the cover plate of the faucet. After this, you should see the faucet handle screw, and then you just need to tighten it.

Turn the water back on and check if turning the faucet handle does what it's supposed to. If you still don't have control of the water, you may need to try a few more things.

Replace The Cartridge (Two Handle)

A cartridge is one of four types of valves that you'll find inside a faucet. Cartridges work great in shower faucets. They regulate water flow and temperature when you turn the handle and set the temperature more accurately than other types.

A shower that won't turn off is often because of an issue with the cartridge. Replacing the shower cartridge is a bit trickier than tightening the faucet handle, but if you follow these steps, you should be able to change the shower cartridge.

  1. Turn the water off again.
  2. Turn hot and cold water on in another room. We're testing that the water is off and relieving pressure in the system.
  3. Put your drain stopper into the drain. We don't want to lose any hardware in the pipes!
  4. Remove the handles, and then you should see a screw. Unscrew it, and you'll be able to remove the handle.
  5. Unscrew the cartridge and remove the screw. Make a mental note of how the cartridge is lined up.
  6. Remove the clip from the cartridge. Do not throw it away!
  7. Using vice grips, remove the cartridge. If it feels stuck, you may want to call a plumber, otherwise, you risk damaging the pipes.
  8. Remove the new cartridge from the packaging and apply the lube. The lube allows for an easy install.
  9. Insert the new cartridge. The cold and hot sections of it should line up how the old cartridge lined up. Put everything back together how it was before you disassembled.
  10. Turn the water back on and test.

Please note that not all two-handle cartridges are cartridge faucets. However, you can identify a cartridge faucet by how the handles feel when used. Compression faucets require you to tighten and compress the washer to close the water flow, gradually becoming more resistant as you turn the knob.

Replace The Hot/Cold Assembly Pieces (Single knob shower valve)

Most popular faucet brands offer faucet repair kits. While replacing the cartridge will often solve the inability to shut off the water, sometimes you must replace the individual assembly pieces of the faucet.

  1. Turn the water off, then open hot and cold faucets in other rooms to test the water shutoff and relieve pressure.
  2. Unscrew the handle and remove it.
  3. Unscrew the beauty ring. This is the round metal flange that frames the installation area.
  4. Pull off the escutcheon plate. The escutcheon on a faucet is the metal plate around the base covering the hole in the wall.
  5. Using a wrench, loosen and pull out the cold and hot shower valves. You'll notice that there are two valves, one on each side of the faucet. These pieces are assemblies with a spring inside, and you'll see the springy action on the parts.
  6. Screw the replacement valve assemblies into position, and tighten with a wrench.
  7. Put everything back together.

Repair A Ball Shower Faucet

Some baths and showers may use a ball faucet. Ball faucets have a single handle that moves around in a 3D motion, instead of simple knob turning, and they're common in kitchens and bathrooms.

  1. As with any plumbing repair, the first step is to shut off the water to the home. You may have a water shutoff for the shower in the bathroom or the room sharing the wall with the faucet. If not, using your main water shutoff will work. The main water shutoff is usually located in the basement, near the foundation wall that the water supply enters the home.
  2. After shutting off the water, always open a faucet before beginning a repair. Opening a faucet will release pressurized water from the pipes, preventing a mess during the repair.
  3. Next, remove the set screw and pull off the handle.
  4. After removing the handle, you can remove the handle cap. During this step, many people damage the gear, so be careful! Be gentle, but firm.
  5. Once everything else is removed, you should be able to remove the ball and equipment. Take a mental picture of how the ball was placed, as you'll need to return it the same way later.
  6. In the faucet where the ball had been, replace seats and springs. Although you can buy assorted faucet repair kits, you can often purchase repair kits for specific brands or models.
  7. After the parts are replaced, put it all back together in the order you took it apart.
  8. Last, return the water supply and test out the faucet.
shower faucet won't stop


Replacing a faucet can be expensive. Repairing a faucet is a relatively straightforward project that many DIYers are capable of doing. Remember to shut off the water supply and test that it's shut off before doing anything else. Another common issue you can run into is when no hot water comes out the faucet. Read our guide to find out how to fix a problem when you constantly run out of hot water.

About the author 

John The Plumber has been the Plumber in Ottawa you can count on since 2006. By providing incredible customer service, convenient and accommodating appointments, efficient and effective services, and an overall great experience, John The Plumber has grown beyond Ottawa to be the premier plumbing company in Ontario. We’re proud to offer world-class service and look forward to helping you!

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