Every now and again, your single-handle faucet may develop a squeaky sound or become hard to turn. While there are a few reasons, this can happen, lubricating the faucet stem often corrects the issue. So, before you toss the entire faucet and replace it, try lubricating the faucet. We outline each step in this guide, so continue reading for more information!
How Do You Lubricate A Single-Handle Faucet?
Lubricating a single-handle faucet is a relatively straightforward process, but the steps can vary slightly from one tap to the next. There are dozens of single-handle faucets with numerous designs, so while the steps might be somewhat different, the gist is the same. Here’s how to lubricate a single-handle faucet:
Gather Your Materials
Before you start, you’ll need to collect a few materials to make the job easier. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Allen wrench
- Needle-nose pliers
- Philips-head screwdriver or Allen wrench (depends on the faucet)
- Adjustable pliers
- Cartridge puller
- Silicone-based plumbing grease
- Scrub brush or an old toothbrush
Shut Off The Water
Once you have everything you need, turn off the water supply to the faucet in question. This is a vital step, as you’ll be removing various components from inside the faucet body. So, to save yourself the potential mess, turn off the water supply to the faucet using the shut-off valves underneath the sink.
There might not be shut-off valves in some cases, so you may need to turn off the water to the entire house at the main shut-off valve. Once you turn off the water, open the faucet handle to drain the excess water from the lines.
Cover the drain with a stopper or towel to prevent yourself from losing any important parts down the drain.
Remove The Handle
With the water off, you can move on to the next step: removing the handle. This part of the process may vary based on your faucet, as some have visible set screws, while others may simply come off with a slight upward pull.
If you’re unsure how your faucet handle comes off, look up your particular model for assistance. Sometimes, the brand will have a page dedicated to repairs for your faucet, so you might be able to find a guide for removing the handle.
If your handle has a visible set screw, use the appropriate tool to remove it (usually an Allen wrench or Philips screwdriver). Or, if you can’t find a set screw, look for a decorative cap on the handle. Once you find it, carefully pry it off the faucet to expose the screw. Set the screw and cap aside for later.
Once you remove the screw, lift the handle away from the faucet and set it aside.
Remove The Retaining Clip
After the handle is out of the way, you’ll see a retaining clip or threaded cap. If there’s a retaining clip, use a pair of needle-nose pliers to pull it out carefully. Or, if you see a threaded cap, gently rotate it counter-clockwise with pliers (place the pliers on the cap knurls to avoid damage). Set the piece aside for later.
Pull The Cartridge
Now, it’s time to remove the cartridge so you can lubricate the faucet stem. While you may be able to remove the cartridge by hand or with a pair of pliers, they can get stuck in there. Avoid using excessive force, as this could damage the faucet. Instead, use a cartridge puller to handle the job, as it can safely remove the cartridge without damaging it.
In some cases, a generic cartridge puller will work, but some brands require specific tools for cartridge removal, so check before you try using one. Set the cartridge aside.
Lubricate The Faucet Stem
After you remove the cartridge, examine the inside of the faucet stem. Look for dirt, grime, and mineral deposits, as these can cause issues. If you find gunk, use a scrub brush to clean the area. In some cases, you might need to use a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and warm water to remove mineral deposits.
Once the area is clean, coat each of the faucet components and the threads of the faucet stem with a layer of silicone-based grease. Be sure to lubricate each piece, including any rubber O-rings you find outside the stem or cartridge.
While working with each part, look for damage or signs of wear and tear. Replace any parts as necessary.
Reinstall Each Part
After you finish coating the faucet pieces in lubricant, it’s time to reassemble the faucet. Retrace your steps, starting with the cartridge. Reinstall the retaining clip after the cartridge, then fit the handle back on the stem and secure it with the set screw.
If you’re having trouble reassembling your faucet, use an exploded parts diagram of your particular faucet model for disassembly and reassembly assistance. Generally, you can find these on the brand’s website under that faucet model as a PDF file.
Once everything is back in place, wipe up any residual water or grease on and around the faucet. Turn the water supply back on and check the faucet for leaks. The handle should move easier, but if you find any leaks, you will need to disassemble the handle and ensure each piece is firmly in place.