Every now and again, you might need to remove the handle on your bathroom faucet for maintenance or to correct an issue. While removing faucet handles with set screws is simple, removing the handle can quickly become an unwanted puzzle when there’s no screw in sight.
So, perhaps you have everything lined up for your faucet repair, only to run into a roadblock right out the gate. Now what? Before scraping the repair entirely, read through this guide. We did the hard part for you and collected a few tips and tricks for removing screwless faucet handles, so continue reading to learn more!
In This Article
Types Of Faucet Handles
With over a dozen manufacturers offering hundreds of faucet configurations, it can be tricky to isolate the correct set of steps for your particular faucet. However, while there’s quite a bit of variation in design from one brand to the next, there are a few common handle types.
A few of the most common faucet handle attachments include:
- Set screws (visible or hidden)
- Threaded mounts
- Friction fit mounts
In some cases, there might not be an obvious set screw, but upon further investigation, you might come across a hidden screw. Or, the handle might be attached as a friction fit, so a quick tug will do the job. Threaded mount faucets usually screw into place, so removing them is easy. We’ll detail each removal process in the following sections.
How Do You Remove A Screwless Faucet Handle?
Removing a screwless faucet handle can be an aggravating process, especially if you don’t know where to start. Although most faucet manufacturers have unique touches, most stick to a few common attachment types.
Hidden Set Screw
In some scenarios, there might be a set screw tucked out of sight. While the creativity of the faucet brand’s design team is appreciated, for the most part, it can create an irritating scenario when repairs are necessary.
So, before you try the following methods, look around for a hidden set screw. There is a set screw in many cases, but it’s hidden by a decorative cap or tucked in an inconspicuous location. Check the backside of the faucet or on the underside of the handle, where the handle meets the faucet body. If you have a lever-style handle, the set screw might be hidden on the front side of the handle near where it meets the faucet body.
Look for a small hole in those areas, indicating a set screw. You can also use your fingers to feel around the faucet to check for a set screw. Sometimes, using your fingers for the detective work, as getting a good look at the backside of a faucet can be tricky when it’s close to the wall.
If you don’t find a hole in the faucet hiding a recessed set screw, feel around for a small bump on the handles. This could indicate a decorative cap, which many brands use to cover the set screw. If you find a small cap, use your fingernail or a flathead screwdriver to carefully pry the lid away from the faucet.
Be careful not to scrape the faucet’s finish as you remove the cap. Once the cap is out of the way, set it aside in a safe place to replace it later. Now, you can access the set screw and remove it with an Allen wrench or Philips screwdriver.
Some faucets feature friction-fit handles, so removal is quick and easy. This design was typical in many older faucets, so if you have a vintage faucet, this might be the way to remove it. Simply pry the handle up and away from the body to the faucet, allowing the mechanism to release the handle.
Be careful not to jerk the handle too hard, as doing so could damage the stem inside the handle. If you are too aggressive while removing the handle, you might unintentionally break the mechanism, preventing the faucet from refitting onto the stem, so be careful while removing the handle.
Some faucet manufacturers have adopted a different approach to securing faucet handles. If you have a widespread faucet or one without handles attached to the faucet body, it likely has trim securing it into place. With this design, there’s a skirted portion on the bottom of each handle that threads into place to secure the handle to the sink deck or countertop.
To remove this handle type, you simply need to unthread the trim. Grasp the handle in one hand and the trim in another, then carefully rotate the trim counterclockwise to unthread it. Once you unthread the trim, you should be able to lift the handle away from the sink deck or countertop.
Tips To Avoid Faucet Mess-Ups
Regardless of why you’re removing your faucet handle, it’s essential to follow a few key steps. Otherwise, you might unintentionally create a water park in your bathroom or lose important parts down the drain.
Turn Off The Water
With any plumbing project that requires opening up a faucet, it’s essential to turn off the water, even if you won’t directly work with the water supply. If you don’t turn off the water, there’s a chance that you could end up with a waterlogged mess in your bathroom. So, before you start tinkering with your faucet’s handle, turn off the water supply.
Generally, you can find the water shut-off valves to that particular faucet in the cabinet beneath your sink. If they’re not there, look for a control panel in a nearby closet that might control the entire bathroom. Otherwise, you’ll need to turn off the water at the main supply valve to your home.
Once you turn off the water, verify it’s off by turning on the tap. This will bleed excess water from the lines and prevent messes if you do run into issues.
Cover The Drain
As you work on your faucet, you’ll likely need to remove small pieces (like the decorative cap, if your faucet has one). So, to prevent yourself from accidentally dropping important parts down the drain, cover the drain with a towel or use the drain stopper to close the drain.
Use A Towel
If you need to grasp the handle or faucet body with a tool, such as a pair of pliers or a wrench, for better grip, be sure to protect the faucet’s finish with a towel. Wrap a small hand towel or washcloth around the area you’re connecting the tool to prevent scrapes and dings in the faucet finish.