Moen push-pull type faucets are usually easy to fix

As Moen push-pull type faucet cartridges get old they get progressively tighter and more difficult to use. Sometimes, they drip. If you focus on details, and think you are capable, you might be able to get an old faucet to work like a new one.

Usually, the Moen push-pull faucet is easy to fix. About 5% of the time, serious complications can develop. Always have a plan B. If you run into or cause complications, you might have to call an emergency plumber.

You need to buy a 1225 cartridge made by Moen. I have seen problems with copy cat generic cartridges so make sure Moen made the cartridge.

If your faucet is more than twenty years old it might have a brass (1200) cartridge. The 1225 replaces the old style 1200. Sometimes the old 1200 cartridges break (separate) when people try to pull them out. The puller pictured below is the best to have if a cartridge separates. The plastic housing on the 1225 helps make future removal much easier.

You should turn off the whole house and open a faucet lower than the one you are fixing if you do not have shut off valves that work properly.

If there is any chance you might drain water out of the water heater, you should turn the breaker off to an electric water heater or turn a gas water heater to “pilot” while the water is drained.

If you turn on the faucet you are fixing and no water comes out, you probably can continue to work on replacing the cartridge. Be careful. More water might drain down as parts are removed.

To fix a Moen push-pull type tub or shower faucet [Note: this should also be helpful for kitchen sink and bathroom sink types if you realize up and down and other terms might not apply.]:

Carefully remove and keep track of the handle and other parts you remove.

  1. If you find a small stainless steel washer on the stem (after removing the handle) do not forget to keep and reinstall it later.
  2. After the handle is removed, slide the stainless steel tube off of the cartridge housing.
  3. A copper (or brass) horse shoe shaped clip will have to be slide up to remove it from the cartridge housing. Before disturbing the clip, take a good look at how it must be slide completely down to safely hold the cartridge. Later, if you don’t carefully and patiently slide the ends of this “horse shoe” type clip, completely down, you will have problems. If you rush and force this clip too fast, you will bend it and will have to get it back to being perfectly flat. Often, there will be a hole in the top of this clip to make it easy to use an ink pen or small nail, to slide the clip up and out. Sometimes a faucet is so far inside the wall that the face plate screws and face plate will have to be removed to reach the horse shoe clip. Always be careful to not drop the clip down the drain or in the wall.
  4. After the retaining (horse shoe type clip) is removed, it helps if you loosen the old cartridge. If you use the white plastic end cover (packing material) that comes with the new cartridge. Place the end cover on the old cartridge just like you found it on the new cartridge. Use pliers to turn the end cover and the old cartridge just a little. The square shape of the end cover should make it easy to turn the old cartridge. Just turn it a little bit (if it was a clock, only turn it to about 5 minutes before the hour and then about 5 minutes after the hour), then turn the cartridge back to the original position. If you turn too much you risk making removal of the cartridge extremely difficult.
  5. Now, 95% of the time you can take pliers and pull the old cartridge straight out like pulling out a tooth. 3% of the time you will need a special Moen puller. 1% of the time you will need an experienced plumber with easy outs and all kinds of tools. 1% of the time, the faucet will have to be replaced.
  6. Look inside and make sure you don’t see any strange pieces. Then, lightly grease inside the faucet if you have faucet grease.
  7. Use the above mentioned cartridge “end cover” to slide the new cartridge in place. If you have the cartridge slide all the way in AND have turned the flat spots on the cartridge perfectly up and down, it should be easy to carefully slide the copper (or brass) “horse shoe” clip safely back down completely. If you fail to use the “end cover” to push the cartridge completely in and straight AND then take the “end cover” out of the way, you will have a hard time getting the “horse shoe” clip properly installed. You should notice that when the ends of the “horse shoe” clip are slide all the way down, the ends hold the cartridge in place. Sometimes, it is a little tricky and nerve racking to make sure this clip is properly slide into the brass that holds the cartridge safely in place. You need to focus on details because the faucet might seem to be okay even when the clip is not SAFELY installed.
  8. The stainless steel tube should slide over the “horse shoe” clip and new cartridge so you can test to make sure hot and cold come out of the faucet when the handle is turned correctly. This faucet has an easy to reverse feature. So, it is important to make sure turning the cartridge to the left provides hot water. Turning the cartridge stem 180 degrees before installing the handle reverses hot and cold.
  9. After you think everything is working properly, reinstall the stainless steel handle washer (if you had one) and reinstall the handle.
  10. Let me know how you did and if there is something I could do to improve these tips.

About the Author

Mike

Mike started his plumbing apprenticeship in 1969. He has over forty years experience solving plumbing problems in homes. Mike helps people avoid mistakes. He is the founder and president of Quick Quality Plumbing Inc.. Mike published a book (OnlinePlumbingAdvice.com) and he is the administrator for the web site (OnlinePlumbingAdvice.com.)