Remove stuck moen cartridge without tool

As my house gets older and older, more and more maintenance items pop up. This time, it was time to finally replace the cartridges for my Moen single handle shower/tub fixtures. One was starting to drip and the other was just really hard to pull out and push in. So, I looked up some how-to’s online and set off to get it done. As is expected, shortly after beginning, I ran into some problems – both cartridges didn’t really want to come out.

Moen Cartridge installed

After some pushing and pulling and some choice words under my breath, I was able to get the first one out. The second one wasn’t going to give up so easily…nor was I. I again did some research about stuck cartridges and discovered that a tool exists to remove them.Moen extraction toolAfter seeing the price and after considering the fact that my local hardware store probably wouldn’t have it in stock, I decided to try and get it out with the tools and resources I had on hand. My first attempt was to put a pair of vise-grips on the end of the shaft and use a couple of different items to try and pry it out. No dice.

I once again thought about the cost of the extraction tool and a potentially fruitless trip to the hardware store and decided it’d probably be better if I tried to make my own. It took some snooping around the house and the toolboxes, but eventually I came up with something that did the trick.

Homemade extraction tool

With a 3/4″ (or 13/16″) socket, some spacers (nuts), and washers, I was able to extract the cartridge without too much trouble. A couple of things to note:

  • The washer that is used to attach the handle to the cartridge is not hardened; that’s why I used an additional washer. The little, wimpy washer originally bent on me when I used it alone.
  • As the cartridge comes out, you may need to play with how many spacers you use as the distance changes between the washers and the cartridge.
spacer options

I’m using a longer socket and the head of the wrench as a spacer.

Every thing was going fine, the cartridge was coming out little by little and I thought I was home free. That’s when I realized the shaft of the cartridge was just spinning as I continued to turn the screw. I’m pretty sure the real extraction tool has a way to keep this from happening, so I came up with my own solution.

nut trick

I found a little nut, stuck it between the socket and the shaft and continued with my extraction. Once the cartridge was out enough, I was able to clamp the vise-grips on there and spin it around to make it come out that much easier.

final steps

After a little more pushing and pulling, success and a happy DIY plumber.

happy plumber


11 thoughts on “Remove stuck moen cartridge without tool

  1. Use a 1/2″ drive socket (shallow is fine) of if I remember correctly a 13/16″ size. A longer enough screw of proper thread size, a couple of fender washers and a nut. Put nut on screw far enough, add washers and attack screw to stem through socket. Turn nut while holding screw from turning and it pulls cartridge out easily. Clean housing out to be sure no chinks of o-rings remain and reassemble.

  2. I went through the SAME headache as you !! Over three hours I tried about 10 times to pull out the cartridge from the bathroom sink.

    I started with pliers ~ they slipped and chopped into my left index finger ~ then I switched to vice-grips, but to no avail.

    I was sooo frustrated ! I even stacked couch cushions against the wall behind me so that in the event the cartridge ‘did’ come out, I wouldn’t fly back & bust my head against the wall……

    I live in a high-rise condo so decided to wait until the next morning to see if the maint. guys had that special tool: ALAS they did ! It took me two minutes to read the directions & less than two more to hook it up and pull out the cartridge : )

    BUT: I didn’t have a replacement, just a repair kit w/ some washers: It did no good ! Putting it back after replacing the washers was just as hard as when first trying to remove it !!! And now the water is coming out even worse !

    I’ve just ordered a new cartridge & will let you know in 2-4 days how THAT goes……..

    I’m glad I stumbled upon your site !!!!

  3. UPDATE: My new cartridge arrived in the mail yesterday @ about 11 AM . . But the maint. guys couldn’t let me use the removal tool because they had other jobs in the building (400+ units) requiring it all day (I was told they were buying two more) … UGH: One more day with my bathroom sink being used by having turn the water on & off from underneath when needed……

    This morning @ 0830 I was going down to the basement and the chief engineer just happened to be standing there when I got off the elevator: He got on the radio to one of his guys and called for the tool before we even made eye contact !

    W/in 15 minutes I was returning the tool back to the front desk….

    SURPRISINGLY, I even installed the cartridge correctly: IE: Hot was on the left & cold was on the right ~~ I didn’t have to open it all up again & twist it 180 degrees !!!

    (If had placed a ‘work order’ for the condo association to do the replacement it would have been $60/labor + $15 for the cartridge; done sometime w/in 3-4 days…alas, I paid just $17 online for a new cartridge & it took roughly 3 1/2 days)

    All to resolve a continual 5 second drip ! ! It’s OVER !

  4. Had the exact same issue with my valve. I was yanking with with vice grips to no avail. I found a screw the same thread size as the one the holds the handle on so I could screw it in as far as necessary and the valve came out easily once I put the socket on and a washer with a hold smaller than the screw head.

    Thanks for the tip.


  5. I have 2 tools for extraction, the usual puller & another in case that fails. Before re-installing the new cartridge, I clean the bore with a clean tooth brush, rinse & dry & then lightly lube the bore with plumbers grease. Next time will be a breeze & if you have to rotate the cartridge much easier. Don’t use any petroleum based grease. It’ll eat up the seals.

  6. Amazing effort! Thank you. After reading this I started thinking and I found some plyers in my bag with small enough handles to use the handle part of the plyers as the removal tool. After spinning cartridge around a few times I used them the regular way to pull it out. It took less than a minute.

  7. Great video. Got free part from Moen, lifetime (don’t know whose). Couldn’t get old one out. Was going your way until I got bigger vice grip and wiggled and jumped on for 10 minutes, then came out. Good ingenuity on your part. Have bookmarked for next time.

  8. Thanks!
    Unable to remove Moen 1225B faucet cartridge.

    Used ¾” socket, flat washer & the screw that holds handle/knob in place.

    I tightened screw & ten it just began to spin & I realized I was just spinning the stem 360˚. I should have used your small nut trick & I thought I was stuck again. I held my flat washer with pliers & pulled up & then was able to loosen the screw. To my delight the old cartridge came partly out! So with vice grips I extracted it. I used old toothbrush with vinegar to scrub the inside valve body. Installing the new cartridge with plenty of extra plumber’s grease was easy.

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