Nothing is more relaxing than coming home to a nice shower after a hard day. However, one simple thing that can ruin this relaxation is the water not getting to the temperature you want. This brings us to our question of the day: Why is there no cold water coming out of your shower, and what can you do about it?
Your shower could fail to deliver cold water because the pressure balance valves (or “shower cartridge”) have failed, or because a shutoff valve on the cold water supply line has been closed. While replacing the cartridge (valves) is technically DIYable, you probably want to call a plumber for it.
In most cases, the key to fixing these issues is identifying and replacing the faulty part. So let’s get into these causes in more detail so you can hopefully identify and fix your shower’s cold water supply.
There could be several reasons why only hot water is coming out of your shower. Let’s quickly go through some of the most common causes.
Failing Pressure balancing valves
First, your pressure balancing valves may have failed.
Pressure balancing valves are the part of your shower that regulate the cold and hot water coming out of your shower and the pressure at which they come out. If these valves fail, it could result in no cold water coming out of your shower.
Blocked cold water supply
Second, the cold water supply could be blocked. If there is a blockage in the cold water supply line, it may prevent cold water from flowing to the showerhead.
A clogged pipe, a damaged valve, or a problem with the water main could cause this, but to be clear, this is very rare, and would probably only happen if you have construction or issues with the city or municipal water supply in your local area.
If your cold water to your entire house is clogged, you won’t have hot water either, while if it’s only the cold water line to your shower that’s clogged, that’s just an extremely rare thing to have happen because there’s no way for you to get debris in that literal pipe.
In some cases, the showerhead itself may be causing the issue. For example, if the showerhead is old or has become clogged, it may not be able to mix the hot and cold water properly, resulting in only hot water being delivered to the showerhead.
Again, this is going to be pretty rare, as most showerheads are designed to take a mixed water stream that was mixed basically at the hot and cold valves, not mixed at the showerhead. So, if you have an advanced or very complex shower system, sure, this could be more likely to be the cause.
Now that we’ve gone through some of the issues that could potentially be causing your shower not to produce cold water, we need to know what to do about it. So let’s go through how to fix your shower and get it some cold water again.
Replacing the shower cartridge
First, a malfunctioning pressure-balancing valve is the most common issue that will cause a shower not to produce cold water. The easiest way to fix this problem is to replace the valve’s cartridge (otherwise known as a shower cartridge).
Replacing a shower cartridge can be a little complicated, so it is recommended that inexperienced readers call their local plumber to fix this issue.
However, for those that are experienced, or maybe just those that want to save money, it is possible to change a shower cartridge yourself. We will dedicate the next section of this article entirely to this process.
And just to be clear, what we are talking about with a “shower cartridge” like this one (example on Amazon) is nothing that complicated.
It may look a bit strange, but all this gadget does is let hot water and cold water come in and a mixed water stream go out, depending on how you work the knobs.
Check the shut-off valves
In the meantime, another potential solution to your water troubles could be the shut-off valves.
First, you must ensure the shut-off valves for your shower are fully open. If they are even partly shut, they could prevent cold water from flowing through your system.
While sinks and toilet lines have shutoff valves on their individual water supply lines, showers and built-in tubs don’t always have them. You should look around and just see if you have access to both hot and cold shutoff valves for your shower, and if so, make sure that both of them are open.
As we mentioned before, the most common issue that can result in a shower being unable to deliver cold water is a malfunctioning pressure-balancing valve. To fix this issue, all you have to do is replace the shower cartridge.
However, we can’t just start messing with shower parts yet. First, we must gather all the needed materials for the job.
You first need a Phillips head screwdriver and a flat-head screwdriver. These can be found at pretty much any hardware store you can imagine, but if you’re in need, you can buy a two-pack with one of each from Edward Tools here (on Amazon).
You’ll also need a cartridge puller (on Amazon), a set of Allen wrenches (on Amazon), needle-nose pliers (on Amazon), silicone lubricant (on Amazon), and locking pliers (on Amazon). Once you have all of these things, you’re finally ready to begin.
- First, you want to begin by shutting down the water supply to the shower.
- Once that’s done, cover the shower drain with either a cloth or towel to prevent anything from falling down there.
- Next, remove the shower handle and any covers using whatever screwdriver fits your shower. When removing the handle, hold it in place and slowly lift it off the stem.
- At this point, the inner workings of your shower should be exposed. Take a picture to see where everything goes when you have to put them back together.
- Remove all parts inside your faucet and clean them off using a commercial cleaning solution. This will remove any build-up on any of your shower parts.
- Once you’re done, use your needle-nose pliers to remove your retainer chip.
- After it’s out, use the cartridge puller you purchased to take out the shower cartridge.
- Install your new shower cartridge using your silicone lubricant, then reinstall all the parts you took out. Use the photo you took earlier to make this easier.
Once again, this process is a little complicated. So, if you have little or no plumbing experience, it is recommended that you get a professional to handle it for you.