Last updated on September 26, 2021
Got stuck faucet handle in your home?
Brass and stainless steel make for really good faucet materials because of their ability to heavily resist corrosion. Unfortunately, not all homes can afford brass and stainless steel due to their relatively higher cost compared to zinc alloy and plastic.
Over time, it can’t be helped if faucets get stuck due to the build-up of mineral deposits and material corrosion as a result of continuous exposure to water.
This guide is all about getting those stuck faucets unstuck, so be sure to read on and hopefully cut repairman and replacement costs.
How to remove a faucet handle when stuck? Let’s get to know the faucet handle types.
What are the three basic faucet handle types?
1. Lever handles
Lever handles are perhaps the most common modern handle types. They come in single or double-handle variants.
Single-handle faucet levers can be found on the cartridge, ball, and disc faucets and typically move up and down or swing left and right.
The double-handle variants are usually found on compression and some cartridge faucets and feature 2 separate handles on the left and right sides which dictate the flow of hot and cold water respectively.
2. Blade handles
These handles look similar to lever handles in terms of design, only that they have a more tapered shape akin to the appearance of a butter knife or spreader.
Blade handles were designed to be easily manipulated with minimal force and can be gripped if additional leverage is needed.
3. Cross handles
Cross handles have an X-shape appearance and are most commonly used in compression faucets.
Most compression faucets have 2 handles, each controlling either hot or cold water and adjusts water flow via turning/twisting.
Things to prepare
- Utility knife
- Wire brush
- Hairdryer/heat gun
- Penetrating oil
Also, before starting, remember to shut off the water supply. Let the pipework of the faucet in concern fully drain out.
Preparing to remove a stuck faucet handle
In line with preparing the above materials and conditions, it’s also a good idea to let others in the household know, if there are other people, let them know that water might be temporarily disrupted as you do the repairs.
Properly position whatever you’ll be using to catch rust and other corrosive build-ups. This step is essential as you can not bring it anywhere just as how you try to remove rust from your tools.
Different ways to remove a stuck faucet
1. Removing mineral deposits
- Put on at least some latex gloves and sprinkle a little acidic solution on your faucet/s.
- Get a wet rag or cloth and put some dishwashing liquid on it. Give areas commonly exposed to drips a thorough cleaning.
- Get a paper towel or sponge and completely soak it with your chosen acidic solution. Give the faucet another full wipe-through. Repeat until you are able to wipe off persistent stains.
- With an old toothbrush, you can brush off small, persistent remains with a baking soda and vinegar paste.
2. Brushing off corrosion
When is this needed:
When your faucet handles need a bit more force to turn, then it could mean that there’s enough build-up on the joints and valve to be obstructive.
Do this if your faucet handles feel like they’re being ‘blocked’.
- If possible, remove the faucet cap to gain access to the valve.
- Check for valve discoloration (yellowish-brown) and visible rust build-up. Knock off any loose bits using a dry, stiff-bristle brush.
- Work your way along the valve and be sure to get at the surrounding areas. Loosely dabble some acidic substance on the brush to scrape away more persistent build-ups.
- Reassemble the handle and test. Sometimes it may still feel stuck, but it usually just needs one good forcing and should work fine after.
3. Lubricate to force it off
When is this needed:
This is often the last resort and mainly done when both previous methods have failed. Brushes can’t get into the interior parts of a handle if ever they’ve corroded, that’s when we use oil to force them clean.
- Remove the faucet cap.
- Using a sprayer, coat the inside of the valve and the base of your faucet handle with penetrating oil. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Try to force the handle loose by either turning it with a dry rag or by using your Estwing hammer to lightly strike it in a given direction.
- If a hammer still isn’t enough, bring out a wrench and wrench the handle to the right (open). Apply gentle yet firm pressure and do not jerk the motion as you might break off the handle.
- The moment the handle moves, release the wrench and just manually adjust.
4. When to use a faucet removing tool?
A faucet handle remover, also known as a faucet handle puller, is best used when working with faucet handles that are stuck on too tight to be removed by hand.
It’s also better to use handle pullers on handles whose shape is difficult to grip even with a wrench.
How to remove a faucet stem?
- Be sure to shut off the water and turn on all faucets to fully drain the lines first.
- Remove the faucet caps or unscrew whatever function as the handle’s connecting screws.
- Once unfastened, pull off the handles to expose the stems.
- Depending on the type of faucet, use the appropriate fastening tool to remove the securing nuts can be one of these pliers or wrenches, manually, etc.).
- Keep in mind the assembly of your stems (I.E compression faucets usually have O-rings at the thread of the bottom of their stems.) and inspect their integrity. Replace stems too badly corroded/damaged.
- Clean any build-up on the stem fixtures.
- Reassemble the stems back into place and secure the retaining nuts.
- Slide the handles back on and secure with the cap/screws.
Tips for removing a stuck bath tub faucet handle
- Use lubricant or penetrating oil and spray it directly onto the diverter piece through the spout opening (if your faucet uses one).
- Disassemble your spout or handle and inspect for build-up. To clean, follow the steps above.
- Soak trouble spots in either vinegar or penetrating oil for about 2 hours before turning.
- If the trouble is faulty or badly damaged spouts, then consider replacement instead.
How to remove a stuck faucet handle with no screw?
Pertains to faucet handles with no visible screws.
- Always shut off the water and fully drain the lines.
- Cover the drains.
- Remove or pry off the faucet cap with something like a flat-head screwdriver. The cap often hides the connecting screws.
- Remove the handle. Inspect the assembly corresponding to your type of faucet.
- Determine the severity of corrosion. Lightly douse it in white vinegar if there are only some mineral deposits. Refer to the guides above for more thorough cleaning tips.
- Inspect and clean the faucet cartridge including the O-ring.
- Reassemble everything then test.
How to remove a stuck shower faucet handle?
You practically make use of all the methods discussed thus far in order to loosen or remedy a seized shower faucet.
Shower faucets are likelier to stick because they’re more exposed to water compared to sinks.
Instead of saying how to get these unstuck, it’d be better to recommend investing in faucets that are more tolerant to corrosion, such as Brass or stainless steel.
But do remember at what conditions does stainless steel rust. You could also coat or paint over your faucets to give them some extra protection.
How to remove a stuck outdoor faucet handle?
- To remove a stuck outside faucet handle, shut off the line connecting to the house and drain what may be left on the outside faucet.
- Remove the handle and spray penetrating lubricant on the valve. Allow it to sit for a few minutes.
- Get an adjustable wrench and clamp on the handle nut and turn counterclockwise. Go clockwise if it won’t turn to try and break off any corrosion.
- Heat up the nut for about 5 minutes if it still won’t come loose. This causes it to expand just enough so as to unthread itself.
- If you’ve done all you can with the nut, move on to the valve and inspect. Clean as needed or replace the valve stem if necessary.
- Reassemble and test.
How to a stuck double-handle faucet?
Removal is similar to all methods we’ve already gone over with the major difference being that double-handle faucets require you two remove two separate handles, exposing two separate valves which might have their own respective build-ups.
On average, fixing a stuck two handle faucet is more time consuming than it is complicated or, if at all, any different
Dos and don’ts when removing stuck faucet handle
- Do always remember to shut off the water and fully drain the lines to be worked on.
- Do perform routine cleaning and maintenance to prevent heavy build-up and potential damage.
- Do be knowledgeable about your faucet type and associated assemblies.
- Don’t attempt it if you have absolutely no plumbing and or at least home DIY experience.
- Don’t suddenly force or jerk stuck handles as you might break them.
- Don’t turn the water off when the wife is still in the shower.
It’s almost impossible to fully avoid faucets seizing. Over time, faucets will eventually stick due to corrosion and mineral build-up.
That’s why the most important step you can take is to know how to address this when it happens, saving lots in terms of not having to spend on professional services and unnecessary replacements from maintenance.
Hi, my name is David, and thanks for reading one of my articles.
As a construction cost estimator, and a car restoration enthusiast I share some of my skills here at Bangingtoolbox.
If you have any questions about your car restoration projects or if you have any queries about pricing a construction job, you can find out more about me here.