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Removing Moen Shower Handle Allen Wrench Size??

Tom Hopkins
Tom Hopkins Member Posts: 552
I have a mid-1990’s fancy single handle Moen Shower handle I can’t for the life of my figure out what size Allen wrench fits the screw. I’ve tried every size SAE and metric. According to some forums, a 7/64 should work but that’s way too bit. A 1/16 fits down into the screw and grabs a little but it’s very sloppy. Anything bigger does not seem to seat. Does this take some special tool or weird Allen wrench size? Thanks in advance.


Comments

  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 831
    The hole may have accumulated deposits from the water restricting the Allen screw slot.  Try spraying some vinegar in the hole to clean it. 

    If that fails, I’ve had success backing out Allen screws using torx head drivers. 
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,637
    Being moen it is probably english. There are some sizes that most sets don't have. An insert bit for a drill/screwdriver handle or socket drive bit will get a better grip the those L shaped hex shaft stock deals. Put the bit in, support the handle with one hand and tap it a few times with a hammer until it hits the bottom of the allen head. Push hard when trying to break it free. Worst case you have to drill out the screw and replace the handle.
  • Tom Hopkins
    Tom Hopkins Member Posts: 552
    Thanks for the input. It seems like it's between 1/16 and 5/64 or 1.5mm and 2mm. I can get the 1/16 to bite a little. Unless it's been bunged up previously, it's some weird size. I don't see any Allen wrench sets out there with any in-between sizes. I tried the vinegar thing but made no difference. I'm probably looking a drilling it out I guess. I might see if there are some small Torx sets available locally before I go that route.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 17,510
    edited September 10
    It’s probably hardened or stainless steel, should you try to drill it
    An easy out may work, grind the tip until you get a snug fit
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,038
    My daughter just called me at noon with the exact same question/problem.

    I called her back just now with the vinegar idea and was going to say shut off the water main and turn the handle upside down for the soaking (she had removed the tub spout already).

    She had already done this and was looking for the correct Allen wrench.

    So I guess about 6 years of being helper 30 years ago paid off.
    PC7060
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,698
    edited September 10
    Hi, I looked around online and four sizes of Allen wrench are mentioned for Moen... 5/64, 3/32, 7/64 and 1/8. :o

    Yours, Larry
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 831
    edited September 10
    The torx is my last resort; select one that is slightly too big and then drive it into place with a hammer.  A careful balance is required; enough force to set the bit without breaking the shower control. This is a learned skill with some winners and some losers!  :D

    Once you get it out, buy another set screw!
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,637
    Use a driver bit and a t-handle so you can push n to keep it from camming out or use a small impact driver of the type you hit with a hammer. If you drill it out a cobalt bit will do better if it is hardened or stainless. i have a set of left hand cobalt bits i use with easy outs.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 4,237
    When I saw this discussion, I immediately thought The one that is missing from my allen wrench set




    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey.
    Services first oil burner at age 16
    P/T trainer for EH-CC.org

    PC7060HomerJSmith
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 831
    The oddball x/64 sizes always make me wish we had just followed through with metric system conversion.  
  • Tom Hopkins
    Tom Hopkins Member Posts: 552
    Well, I drilled it and it's all fouled up beyond recognition! (LOL-kind of.) The handle still did not come off even with the Allen screw sitting in shavings at the bottom of the tub. I ended up breaking the bolt between the handle and the cartridge. I tried getting the cartridge out (After removing the U-shaped clip) but can't get it to budge. I'm not sure It's salvageable. I know there's a cartridge removal tool available but not sure I want to take this any further. Would it be possible to just replace the cartridge and put in more of a basic handle? I'm not sure if the parts are readily available. I may just call in a pro to replace the whole valve. As you can see in the pictures, we have some tile issues to deal with anyway.

    I'm afraid if I tear into this any further I'll hit a point of no return. I'll either have to keep main water to the house turned off or isolate the bathroom tub somehow. There are no isolation valves for the tub or bathroom.



  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 831
    edited September 11
    Can you just replace the shower control from the room behind the shower?  That’s typically what has to be done. 

    Edit: I see insulation, is that a exterior wall?
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,698
    Hi, From the picture of the valve, it looks like the clip is still in place. I think you could get the cartridge out except that the valve body is bent in some on the right hand side. Straightening that would be a tricky job. If you can get access to the valve from the other side, by cutting sheet rock and installing an access hatch, I’d be thinking about replacing the valve.

    Yours, Larry
    PC7060
  • Tom Hopkins
    Tom Hopkins Member Posts: 552
    edited September 11
    I had the clip out when I tried to remove the cartridge.

    It's an inside wall but the opposite side has a tiled wall that's in good shape. It would be messy to get to it from behind. The insulation is only there for sound. (I can only blame myself for not installing an access panel 25-plus years ago.)

    I think since the tile is in rough shape near the control, we'd be better off accessing the valve from the tub side and making tile repairs there. At any rate, I'm not going to tackle replacing the valve myself.

    I may visit the home center tomorrow and see what's available for parts to repair the old valve. I don't think it's bent at all. Probably just the photograph.

    Thanks again folks.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,637
    edited September 11
    I would put shutoffs in the supply to that vale to start. Then I would try to get that screw out with an easy out. If i could i'd screw a long screw or a threaded rod in it and find a socket that would rest on the outside of the body, then i would thread washers and nuts down the screw or rod to pull it out against the socket. I'm pretty sure moen has all the parts to put that back together, maybe not in the exact same trim. I'd put teflon dope on the splines and screws before i put it together so it wouldn't freeze together again.

    Does the tile move if you push on it or is the grout just crumbling because it was mixed too wet or dry or wasn't packed in well enough?
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 831
    I had the clip out when I tried to remove the cartridge. It's an inside wall but the opposite side has a tiled wall that's in good shape. It would be messy to get to it from behind. The insulation is only there for sound. (I can only blame myself for not installing an access panel 25-plus years ago.) I think since the tile is in rough shape near the control, we'd be better off accessing the valve from the tub side and making tile repairs there. At any rate, I'm not going to tackle replacing the valve myself. I may visit the home center tomorrow and see what's available for parts to repair the old valve. I don't think it's bent at all. Probably just the photograph. Thanks again folks.
    Pretty tough to replace from shower side without making a mess of shower tile and water proofing. 
    What substrate is the tile installed on? Concrete backer board, greenboard (drywall)?
  • Tom Hopkins
    Tom Hopkins Member Posts: 552
    Yes, If necessary, It will be a mess replacing the valve from the shower side or from behind. I don't recall exactly what we used for wall board around the shower. I know it's not regular sheet rock. It was a material intended to be used in a shower stall. I think it's some kind of water resistant blue or green board. We are getting a lot of tile cracking on the shower wall too. I guess there's a little shifting in the wall. At some point in the future we are probably looking at a pretty major redo of the shower and tub. We just don't want to tackle it right now.
  • george_42
    george_42 Member Posts: 115
    best bet is to open wall and put in new valve. You may not be able to match the tile so I would buy some decorative tile for the repair area. Did it many times . george
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 831
    edited September 11
    Green or blue board is not a approved substrate for tile in wet area (inside shower or bath surround). Concrete backer boards or approved foam panels (ie Schluter Kerdiboard, Wediboard, etc) or an water proofing fabric system such as Schluter Kerdi over CBB or drywall. 

    Given the age and condition of the shower, it’s unlikely you will be able to patch in a manner acceptable to your significant other. George’s idea of a decorative patch may get you by for a while but it’s only a temporary measure. 

    If it comes to cutting open the wall, I’d strip down to studs and install new backer board and tile.  

    John Bridge tile site is very informative on all things tile including water proofing.  The link is provided below if you are interested. 

  • Tom Hopkins
    Tom Hopkins Member Posts: 552
    Thinking about it some more, I think there is concrete backer board in the shower. The rest of the bathroom is blue board. The subway tile size we installed is unavailable now. It's an English tile of an odd size. It wraps all the way around the bathroom. Matching new tile in the tub and existing tile in the rest of the room will be impossible. There are probably about 20 that have cracked in two, especially in the shower area. It's puzzling as none of the walls are load-bearing yet they might have shifted slightly. It was all professionally installed back in the mid 1990's and wasn't cheap. I've been busy with other things today so I'm gonna take a step back for now from this problem until next weekend.

    The biggest issue for us now is that the cat loves to come up for a drink of fresh water every morning out of the bathtub faucet while my wife is getting ready for the day. She gets a little cranky about not getting her drink of fresh water!
    PC7060EdTheHeaterMan
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,637
    I mean you could put a water bowl in the tub.

    In the picture it looks like some sort of gypsum product. If t is a gypsum product if you cut the grout out and carefully slide a putty knife behind each tile you should be able to get it off in one piece with some drywall attached which you can then scrape off and reuse the tile. If you don't cut the grout (with a grout saw if it is not very strong, with a dremel with a grout bit or an oscillating saw of it is solid), each tile will pull adjacent tiles with it and break those.
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 610
    That sure looks like gypsum board to me in that picture. I see paper "fuzz" on the backside surface of the tile-backer. It doesn't look much like cement board.
    mattmia2
  • TAG
    TAG Member Posts: 726
    Looking at the large gap between the handle and trim -- my guess not all originally done by a pro. That said ... most manufacturers will send you the parts when things are leaking .. especially the big US makers. They have really up the customer service game in recent years. CS will also give or even send you information (like proper size of allen)

    Sometimes the cartridges don't want to come out -- need to pull properly or even a little heat. Once things start to leak the buildup makes fixing harder.

    I would call them and get the correct info and ask about parts .... what the handle number is (to replace) or what other will fit (most likely plenty)

    There is no reason that can't be fixed as long as you don't mess it up ... you also don't want to be ripping that out ... it does look like it maybe on wall board. You will be doing the whole shower
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 6,637
    It looks like there is a tool to grab the cartridge and twist it back and forth in the body to break it free. You could probably cut a notch in the end of a piece of pvc pipe to do the same thing if it isn't too stuck.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,038
    The replacement cartridges used to include a small insert that you could rotate the cartridge with.
    The rotation would cut some of the crud in the valve.

    Still had to pull with pliers.
  • Tom Hopkins
    Tom Hopkins Member Posts: 552
    Thanks everyone. I tried the removal tool but the ears on the cartridge broke. It appears that these ears help pull the cartridge out when it's turned. I could spin it but not get any way to really pull on it. I finally used a small easy-out to drill the broken bolt out. I was able to persuade the cartridge out after that. The replacement cartridge went back in once I figured out there was a small piece of the old cartridge still in the valve. A replacement handle assembly finished the job. The wife and the cat are happy again.

    We'll have to deal with the tile issues later. That link given a few posts back looks like a really good forum.
    mattmia2
  • PC7060
    PC7060 Member Posts: 831
    We'll have to deal with the tile issues later. That link given a few posts back looks like a really good forum.
    Yes, informative and friendly too.