How To Remove A Faucet Handle Cap

The faucets of today’s day and age have incorporated various innovative techniques to improve the overall function and appearance of the tap. These fixtures have come a long way from the early advancements to single-handle faucets to the tiny cap covering set-screws. 

While these advancements are nice, they can be somewhat aggravating, especially when you’ve been searching for an absurd amount of time and still can’t find the set screw. The worst part? It’s probably in plain sight (okay, maybe it’s behind a little cap). If that sounds like your predicament, we’re here to help. 

How Are Faucet Handles Fixed In Place?

Faucet handles remain firmly in the designated place in a few different ways. More often than not, there’s a handy little set screw keeping them riveted to the spot. 

Of course, the mechanisms may vary from one brand to the next, but that’s a whole different story. Most brands, like Moen, Delta, and Kohler, offer dozens of faucet styles, not to mention other kitchen and bathroom fixtures, so telling that story would take a while. 

Usually, faucets feature a small set screw near the base of the handle. Once you remove the set screw, tada! The handle is free. 

What If There Isn’t A Visible Set Screw?

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Okay, maybe it’s not always that easy. Many manufacturers like to get creative and hide these set screws with a small button or cap. While this is great for aesthetic purposes, it’s extremely aggravating when trying to find it. 

Sometimes, the cap blends in well with the faucet, making it an absolute nightmare to find. In other cases, it’s literally in plain sight, you just don’t know you’re looking at it. Some manufacturers disguise it as a fancy little decorative piece, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Either way, it should be somewhere near the bottom of the faucet handle. If your eyes are on strike and can’t seem to find it, use your fingers to find the little bump that indicates the cap. 

How To Remove The Faucet Handle Cap

Once you’ve found the ever-elusive faucet handle cap, the next part is easy (hypothetically). Providing it isn’t corroded or rusted into place, you shouldn’t have any issues removing it. 

Pop-off Faucet Handle Caps

Here’s what you’ll need to take off the faucet handle cap if it pops off:

  • Flathead screwdriver or your fingers

Wedge the corner of the screwdriver’s flat edge underneath the cap. Carefully pry the cap away from the faucet. If you don’t have a flathead screwdriver, it isn’t the end of the world. Simply use your fingernail to pry up the cap carefully. 

Flathead Screwdriver

Now, as you remove the cap, proceed with caution. Most faucet handle caps are easy to break. While replacements are typically readily available, that is a hassle in itself. So, be careful, go slow, and you should be fine.

Twist-Off Faucet Caps

If the faucet cap twists on, the process looks a bit different. Here’s what tools you’ll need:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Small cloth 

Start by wrapping the head of the adjustable wrench in a small piece of cloth. Fit the wrench around the faucet cap and try to unscrew it by turning counterclockwise. 

The cloth helps protect the cap’s finish but should still allow you to get a decent grip using the wrench. 

How To Remove A Stuck Faucet Handle Cap

Removing the faucet handle cap is a vital first step for many plumbing projects. Whether you’re changing out the cartridge or checking for leaks somewhere, there’s a good chance you’ll need to find and remove the set screw.

When the faucet handle cap remains stubbornly in place, despite your best efforts, it can be frustrating. Whether it’s stuck as a result of corrosion or something similar, you have a few options. Before you throw in the towel, give these steps a try. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Cloth
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Oil-based lubricant
  • Vinegar 
  • Old toothbrush
  • Pair of pliers

Shut Off The Water

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Before you get started, ensure the water is off. If something somehow goes awry, you probably don’t want an impromptu shower. While it’s probably unlikely that you’ll end up drenched from removing a faucet cap, you never know these days. 

In addition, there’s a good chance your plumbing project requires you to shut off the water anyways. So, to be on the safe side, go ahead and shut it off now. Sometimes, there’s a water shut-off valve beneath the sink itself, but other times there isn’t. If the sink doesn’t have its own valve, you’ll have to shut off the main water supply valve. 

Use Oil-Based Lubricant

If the cap refuses to loosen, try using a few drops of an oil-based lubricant. Allow it to rest on the cap for a few minutes. After it sits, follow the same steps specific to the type of handle cap. 

Use Vinegar

Vinegar can help dissolve mineral deposits or limescale. Apply undiluted vinegar to the handle cap, generously coating it. Allow it to sit for about an hour. The acid in the vinegar will help dissolve and loosen the mineral deposits. 

Use an old toothbrush to brush away the remnants. Wipe away the residue with a clean, damp cloth, then try to remove it again. 

Use Pliers

If you have a twist-on handle cap, pliers may help you get a better grip on the cap. Wrap cloth around the cap, then use pliers to turn it counterclockwise. Note that using pliers may damage the finish on the faucet cap, even if you use a cloth to protect the finish.

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