How To – Fix a Stripped Faucet Handle

Ever have a stripped faucet handle that just keeps spinning and spinning? There are two usual suspects – stripped threads on the inside of the actual handle, or stripped threads on what’s called the valve cartridge. This short article will show you how to replace the valve cartridge and restore your faucet handles to working condition.

Home Repair
$20.00 CAD

Tools Needed: Screwdriver, Deep Socket Set
Complexity: Simple

So Your Faucet Handle Stopped Working eh?

On some types of faucets, the handles mesh with what’s called a valve cartridge in order to control the flow of water. If the teeth on either the handle portion (Usually plastic) or the valve cartridge portion wear away, then you’ll no longer be able to control the water – the faucet handle will just spin away. This happens over time with almost all handles, but it can be accelerated if the set screw (That holds the handle onto the valve cartridge) is loose. Your best preventative maintenance to avoid doing this repair is to tighten this set screw whenever you notice loose play in the faucet handle.

Stripped Faucet Handle Inside Revealed
Another View Remove Valve

What are the Steps?

  • Turn off the water to your home / apartment
  • Remove set screw cover and set screw
  • Remove handle
  • Use deep socket to remove valve cartridge
  • Replace cartridge, re-attach handle, and turn water back on

The Steps in Detail

Turning off the water is the first step. If this is a sink faucet, you may be able to just turn off the water via a valve under the sink. If it’s a bathtub, you may need to go to the basement and turn off either the valve from your hot water heater if you’re replacing the hot water handle, or the main water mains if it’s the cold water handle. If you don’t turn off the water, when you remove the valve cartridge, you won’t be able to turn it off, and you will have a messy problem.

Removing the handle will either involve prying off a small plastic cover to access a set screw, or the screw will be visible right away. Once this cover or screw is removed, there may be a second screw that you’ll need to undo before you can pull the handle off.

Valve Removed Valve Detail
More Valve Detail Replacement Parts

At this point you’ll be able to determine if you need to replace just the handle, or if you’ll also need to replace the valve cartridge. If the teeth on the valve cartridge are worn, you’ll need to remove it with a deep socket, and take it with you to the hardware store to find a replacement. Handles and cartridges are about $10 CAD each at your local hardware / plumbing store.

Once you have your replacement, just reverse the steps and your tap will be working like new in no time.