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