How to Fix a Stiff Faucet Handle

A misbehaving faucet handle that has become stiff and hard-to-turn becomes problematic quickly. Fixing the stubborn faucet handle is something you will need to do sooner rather than later, as it could seize up and prevent you from getting water. Whether the faucet is in your kitchen or bathroom, a seized-up faucet can become problematic quickly.

Fortunately, repairing the handle shouldn’t be difficult. All you’ll need is a few tools, a chunk of time, and the will to fix it. Keep on reading for a guide on how to repair the problematic faucet.

Why Is A Faucet Handle Hard To Turn?

There are a couple of causes that can result in hard-to-turn faucet handles. One of the main culprits is mineral deposits that build up and begin to cause issues. Another possible reason lies in the faucet’s cartridge, which can eventually develop problems that make the faucet handle hard to turn.

Whether you are dealing with a single-handle faucet or one with a set of handles, fixing the issue is not too complex.

Can You Use WD-40 On A Faucet?

Yes, you can try WD40 on a faucet.  In this case, where the faucet handle is not wanting to turn, try using a little squirt of WD-40 to see if it fixes the problem. WD-40 will help lubricate the faucet handle, hopefully encouraging movement. This may help loosen the handle to the point where it is more fluid and easy to turn.

Can You Use WD-40 On A Faucet

If that doesn’t help, try loosening the screw on the handle slightly. If you recently were tinkering with the faucet, whether it was repairing parts or searching for the brand, you may have over-tightened the screw. An overly-snug screw may restrict the handle’s movement.

How Do You Loosen A Stiff Faucet Handle?

Loosening the stiff faucet handle will take a bit of time, but it is not hard to do. First, you need to examine the interior of the faucet to confirm the problem. From there, you can determine the best course of action.

As with any other project that involves disassembling a faucet, you need to turn off the water to the faucet. The shut-off valves may be beneath the sink, but if your faucet is not equipped with local valves, you may need to turn off the main water supply’s shut-off valve. Check that the water is off by turning on the faucet and verifying there is no water flow.

What You’ll Need

  • Screwdriver with a Philips head or Allen wrench
  • Flat screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Pliers
  • Replacement cartridge (if necessary)
  • Towel

Gather all of your necessary materials and verify the water is off. Place a towel over the drain so you don’t lose any parts, and then you can go to town disassembling the stubborn faucet handle. Next, remove the set-screw holding the handle in place. This screw may be located on the bottom or side of the tap.

Some models may have a decorative cap that hides the screw. In that case, you’ll just need to pop the cap off the faucet and locate the screw.

Use your screwdriver or Allen wrench to remove the screw, then remove the handle. There is no screw on the handle in some cases, so you’ll simply need to twist the handle hub to remove it. Once the handle is gone, you will notice a large nut situated on the faucet valve. Use an adjustable wrench to remove the nut.

Before you remove the cartridge from the faucet body, note the orientation of the cartridge. If you need to, take a picture of the orientation before removing it. To remove the cartridge, use pliers to grip the cartridge and pull it straight up. Some brands will require a unique tool called a cartridge puller. If that is the case, look up the brand name and look for the correct device.

Clean The Cartridge

For this next step, you’ll need:

  • Vinegar
  • Wire brush
  • Replacement parts (as necessary)

Once you have removed the cartridge, carefully examine it for corrosion. If you find corroded or rusty areas, try using a wire brush to clean the faucet valve. White vinegar can also help unstick and remove any rust. If the damage appears to be fairly extensive, it is best to purchase a replacement part.

Clean The Faucet Cartridge

When purchasing a replacement cartridge, take the old one with you when shopping to ensure you choose the correct model.

Since you have already disassembled the faucet, you might as well scrub any rust off of the other faucet parts. Although the cartridge is usually the culprit when it comes to hard-to-turn faucet handles, it doesn’t hurt to deep clean the other parts of the faucet.

Putting It All Together

Once you have cleaned the cartridge or purchased a new one if necessary, you need to reinstall each of the parts. Replace the cartridge according to the original orientation. Tighten the nut, and then replace the faucet handle.

Tighten the screw that fixates the handle, and then check the handle. The handle should be moving normally, and now you can turn on the water supply once more and continue on with your day.