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Balancing Spool is blocked by plastic bracket/spacer

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  • Balancing Spool is blocked by plastic bracket/spacer

    Although symptoms point to balancing spool problems (only hot water, no cold on Moen shower - in seldom used bathroom), no web research I have done speaks to what I found after removing the handle and trim plate - namely a plastic circular bracket or spacer, possibly used to coordinate distance between, in my case, a one piece shower enclosure and the piping that determined the position of my shower handle. The diameter of the plastic piece is larger than the hole cut into my shower enclosure wall. More importantly, it blocks any view of the balancing spool I expected to see when I removed the trim plate. I have not been able to see any such plastic piece in any exploded diagram available on the Moen site.
    Is it common, in new construction, to leave this plastic piece in? Does it serve some function after installation distances have been established (support for a flexible fiberglass shower wall?)? If it should have been removed, how would that have been done at that time? And finally, should I simply try to break or cut this piece out. Without doing that, there's no way I can reach the balancing spool.

  • #2
    Re: Balancing Spool is blocked by plastic bracket/spacer

    The plastic piece is for aligning the valve depth in the wall.
    The outside of the plastic represents the finished wall and
    should have been removed prior to trimming the valve.
    At this point it can be broken out in pieces, although it is
    sometimes used to pull the valve tight against fiberglass
    units when the trim plate is screwed on. You need to see
    if the valve is braced in the wall before removing the plastic.
    Usually the hole cut in the wall for the valve is the same
    diameter as the plastic piece, making it's removal easy.
    It sounds like you have a Moentrol valve with the
    balancing spool separate from the cartridge. Otherwise,
    the balancing spool would be in the cartridge itself and
    you wouldn't need to be concerned with the plastic piece
    being in the way. Do you pull the handle out to get water
    or do you turn it?
    Last edited by Big Jim; 11-12-2009, 03:34 PM.


    • #3
      Re: Balancing Spool is blocked by plastic bracket/spacer

      Jim, the handle is rotated and, you are right, the device, which it turns out is called a "plaster ground" (from Moen exploded view) is for spacing properly upon installation. Examination with a flashlight in the spaces in the plaster ground shows no evidence of a separate balancing spool. Therefore the balancing spool must be in the cylinder itself as you indicated, removing the concern about the so called spacer.
      I musts now find out what exact cylinder goes into my model and either remove, clean, and replace, or, if necessary, replace with a new one.
      Thanks again for clarifying what it was that I was seeing.


      • #4
        Re: Balancing Spool is blocked by plastic bracket/spacer

        I mistakenly called it a cylinder in my previous post. It's a cartridge as you indicated.


        • #5
          Re: Balancing Spool is blocked by plastic bracket/spacer

          Sounds like a Posi-Temp cartridge, no. 1222.
          You may be able to pull the cartridge, and free
          up the stuck piston inside. It should rattle when
          shaken. Or call Moen and they will send you a
          free replacement. Best to have one on hand
          before pulling it in case you damage the old one.
          Don't forget to turn water off.


          • #6
            Re: Balancing Spool is blocked by plastic bracket/spacer

            the spool will seize up with lack of use or dirty water/ construction debris.

            there is a plastic button on the back of the cartridge and it can easily be popped off. then the stainless piston can be moved back and forth.

            as jim mentioned it should rattle back and forth when shook.

            if you find debris in the cartridge, then it's a good idea to flush out the pipe/ valve.

            you'll need a helper and a piece of pipe or cardboard sleeve/ toilet paper or paper towel tube to direct the water into the tub and not the wall. slide the tube or pipe over the round valve body and have a friend turn the water on slowly to flush. use caution as it could get hot and lots of water.

            if you have integral stops/ shut offs, it's a simple 1 man job from the valve


            you're in cleveland. moen world headquarters are right around the corner from the airport. go pick up a new one.
            Last edited by PLUMBER RICK; 11-13-2009, 10:32 AM.
            phoebe it is


            • #7
              Re: Balancing Spool Completed repair

              My thanks to Plumber Rick and Big Jim for their advice in replacing my Moen 1222 balancing spool, posted a month ago but just completed yesterday. In general, the replacement went as expected but I did want to describe two issues that came up.
              In the first, I decided to rent ($2. at my local hardware) a puller because I could not remove the cartridge by pulling on the valve stem. The replacement cartridge came with a separate white plastic piece intended to twist the in-place cartridge, allowing it to free itself and be pulled out easier. Since I didn't realize at the time what its purpose was, I didn't get to try it. I used the puller because I did not want to damage the brass stem with pliers or vise-grips.
              The second issue was more interesting. After I replaced the cartridge, I found that I could not completely reinsert the retaining clip that keeps the cartridge in place. After removing it several times, I determined that the new cartridge was "bottoming out" at the back of the housing in which it sits. I needed the cartridge to go in an extra 1/32 of an inch or so in order to get the clip ends to line up adequately with the slot on the bottom, but it would not go in any further. There didn't appear to be any debris inside that would have obstructed it.
              The only solution that I could come up with was to file down the plastic cartridge housing that the clip rests against on each side. Once I did that, I made enough space available so that the clip would insert all the way in.
              Visually, the old and the new cartridge, while slightly different in design (old had two o-rings, new only has one), appeared to be the same length, but I didn't actually measure the relevant distances. I'm grateful that I was able to get the clip in and the valve is working perfectly, although troubleshooting these issues took quite a bit more time than the installation should have.


              • #8
                Re: Balancing Spool Completed repair

                Originally posted by Saunataga View Post
                troubleshooting these issues took quite a bit more time than the installation should have.
      's not just a job, it's an adventure.

                You did the right thing, renting the puller. That plastic piece is more
                for aligning the new cartridge and rarely helps in loosening the old one.
                Yes, those clips can be troublesome. The cartridge needs to be
                positioned almost perfectly to get the clip on. I'm sure you didn't hurt
                anything with your least it works.