How to Reverse Faucet Handle Direction

Faucet handles that do not rotate the correct way can be frustrating. While older models used to have only cold water lines that ran smoothly, modern homes are not so simple. Nowadays, many homes come with hot and cold water lines in all faucet areas, from the bathroom to the kitchen. As great as they can be, a set of problems may accompany the separation.

In some cases, one of the faucet’s handles may turn the wrong way. Although this may not seem like a huge problem, deciphering the actual temperature of the water can be tricky, which can lead to scalding water. 

No matter what type of faucet you have, whether it’s Delta, Moen, Glacier Bay, or any other, this fix is pretty simple. If you are experiencing this issue, keep on reading for help figuring it out.

Which Ways Should Faucet Knobs Turn?

The type of model will determine the faucet’s on/off directions to regulate flow. Generally speaking, cross handles typically turn in the same direction. This means counter-clockwise to turn on the flow and clockwise to turn off the flow. Think of it as tightening or loosening a nut on a bolt.

Which Ways Should Faucet Knobs Turn

On the other hand, lever handles are a bit different. Lever handles generally turn in opposite directions. The hot side handle should turn counter-clockwise to turn on the flow and clockwise to shut it off.

The cold water faucet is the complete opposite – it will turn clockwise to turn on the flow and counter-clockwise to turn off the flow. These mechanisms allow you to turn on the water by rotating the levers toward you and off by pushing them away from you.

Why Do I Need To Fix Faucets That Do Not Turn The Right Way?

If a faucet’s turning orientation is incorrect, it is best to fix it. For example, Moen faucet handles have a temperature limiter. When it reaches below its bottom limit, the faucet handle might have issues with its stopping point, which can cause the handle to move in the wrong direction. This mechanism prevents the water from getting too hot and scalding people.

Handles or levers that do not rotate as they’re supposed to can be problematic, and it is best to address the issue sooner rather than later. Luckily, the fix is pretty simple.

How To Fix Faucet Handles That Turn The Wrong Direction

Fixing wayward handles is a relatively simple task that will take a small chunk of time to complete.

What You’ll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench or slip-joint pliers
  • Allen wrench (optional)
  • Towel

To start, you’ll need to turn off the hot and cold water supply to the problematic faucet you are working on. Verify the water is off by turning the hot and cold knobs and checking for water flow. You can start once you have confirmed that the water won’t surprise you halfway through your project.

Place the towel in the bottom of the sink to prevent loose parts from escaping down the drain. Remove the decorative button or cap from the faucet if it has one. Using the screwdriver or Allen wrench, remove the screw holding the handle to the cartridge stem. The set-screw may also be handing out near the handle base. Once you have removed the screw, take off the handle.

How To Fix Faucet Handles That Turn The Wrong Direction

Use the slip-joint pliers or an adjustable wrench to loosen and remove the cartridge retaining nut. Take the cartridge out of the faucet valve body by grasping the stem and pulling it up with a gentle rocking motion.

Now, rotate the cartridge 180 degrees. There are two tabs on the sides of the cartridge. Align those two tabs with the slots in the lip of the valve body. Gently insert the cartridge back into its place.

Once you have reinstalled the cartridge in the valve body, thread on the retaining ring and tighten it with your adjustable wrench or slip-joint pliers, reinstall the handle onto the cartridge stem and attach the screw to secure it in place. Replace the decorative cap by pressing it firmly into its place.

Now that you have completed your project, it is time to see if your efforts were fruitful. Check the success of your labor by turning on the hot and cold water supplies and check that the handles or levers are operating correctly. Verify that the handles are turning in the desired direction. If so, congratulations, you have fixed the issue!

What About Older Faucets?

What About Older Faucets

Older faucet models operate differently than the modern designs we see today. If you have an older model and are experiencing this issue, fixing it is a bit different.

Since most older faucets use valves with stems with washers and seats instead of cartridges, repairing the issue is different. They are usually compression-type valves and stems that are threaded to turn left or right. Usually, the right-hand thread is the hot side.

If you need to change handle directions on this type of faucet, you will need to switch the hot and cold stems and valves. Otherwise, you can buy a new set that is threaded to turn in the proper direction. Either of these options should fix the issue at hand.