How to Fix a Stripped Faucet Handle – Step-by-Step Guide

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A stripped faucet handle is a widespread plumbing problem. What’s more, it is a problem that many homeowners face occasionally. That’s why you need to know how to fix a stripped faucet handle yourself.

While this is a quite simple fix, it can turn into a frustrating task when you don’t know what to do and where to start. Fix it on your own using this step-by-step guide and get back to bathing or washing your dishes without a hitch.

How to Fix a Stripped Faucet Handle

Reasons Why Faucet Handles Strip

Whether it is a bathroom or kitchen faucet, the handle may strip for any of these reasons:

  • Faulty handle
  • Corrosion
  • Many years of use
  • Tear on cartridge or stem

Things and Tools You’ll Need

Below are things and tools that you’ll need to fix a stripped faucet handle.

If the stem and handle of your faucet are faulty, then you will have to buy new ones.

How to Fix a Stripped Faucet Handle in 4 Parts

This procedure involves fixing and replacing a faucet handle. We will break it down into four parts for better understanding. Please note that it relates to a bathtub faucet handle; however, the process is almost identical to sink and kitchen faucets.

1. Remove the Stem and Faucet Handle

Step 1: Shut Off the Main Water Valve

If your house doesn’t have a water line that is specially installed for the bathtub faucet(s) — it is a case in most houses — you will need to shut off the main water supply for the entire home.

This way, you will not waste water and be able to work undisturbed. If you need to work on the sink, chances are there is a valve within the built-in cabinet or right below it. Simply turn it clockwise to keep working without interruption.

Step 2: Drain the Pipes

Although you’ve turned off the water supply there is still water in your faucet. You should remove the excess water from the faucet by turning it on. Once the pipes have drained completely, turn the faucet off.

TIP: It is advisable to cover your drain to prevent loss of screws as well as other smaller items that may fall out and get lost whilst you’re fixing your faucet handle.

Step 3: Remove the Cover Plates or Index from the Faucet Stem

First, you need to identify the index. It’s a small cover on your faucet handle.
Keep in mind that not every handle has an index. Depending on the design of the faucet, there could be either cover plates or bare handles.

You should be able to unscrew the handle with your fingers. If there are cover plates or the index, you will have to use a flathead screwdriver to remove it.

This can be done easily by inserting the head of the screwdriver underneath the index and prying it off. To make it pop off in a safe way, slowly push your screwdriver upwards.

Step 4: Remove the Screw

Once you have removed the index, you’ll see a screw that connects the stem and handle. You need to loosen it. There might be either an Allen or a Phillips screw, each of which requires a specific tool (screwdriver) for removal.

Remove the connecting screw by pressing it on with the appropriate screwdriver. It should be turned in the anticlockwise direction to come loose. Make sure it doesn’t get lost.

Step 5: Loosen the Stem

You will notice a protruding pipe after removing the faucet handle. By twisting it in the anticlockwise direction with pliers and socket wrench, you will loosen the stem so it can be removed easily from the wall.

NOTE: Some bathtub faucets have two or more handles. If so, this process should be repeated until all the handles are removed.

2. Remove the Tub Spout

Step 1: Remove the Screw and Pull off the Spout

  • Take an Allen wrench and loosen the screw under the bathtub spout.
  • Once it becomes loose, get it secured in place.
  • Now you can remove the spout by turning it in the anticlockwise direction. Use pliers to pull it off.

TIP: Before you start to use the pliers, place a piece of cloth around the tub spout to prevent scratches.

Some models have a locking nut underneath. It is intended to secure the faucet cartridge. Use a pipe wrench to remove the locking nut.

You may also need to remove a brass screw above the cartridge, depending on the type of your faucet. Some bathtub spouts have no screws. This makes it easier to remove the spout.

Step 2: Find the Reason for Stripping by Inspecting the Affected Area

In case of a faulty stem and/or handle, consider replacing them as soon as you can. Be sure to take measurements of the pipe before buying a new stem and handle to choose the right replacement.

3. Install the New Stem and Handle

Step 1: Insert the Stem into the Pipe

Put the thread area of the stem into the wall pipe and tighten it using a wrench. Avoid over-tightening the pipe and stem to prevent damage.

If your faucet has multiple handles, or if you need to fix several faucets, the process should be repeated for each item.

Step 2: Set the Handle

After securing the tub stem in place, the faucet handle should be pushed over it. To secure the new handle, you need to tighten up the screw with a screwdriver. Then install the index, and that’s it.

If a gap occurs between the wall and the faucet handle, you’ll have to seal it with silicone caulk. This will create a watertight seal.

4. Installing the Spout

Finally, you need to install the spout to complete this DIY task. Have Teflon tape near at hand for this purpose.

Step 1: Tighten It Using Teflon Tape

It is a good idea to use Teflon tape to secure the handle. This way you can ensure that your spout doesn’t back towards the wall.

Consider wrapping three layers of tape around it, just in case. To seal the end properly, press Teflon tape firmly with fingers.

Step 2: Set Up the Bathtub Spout

Once the pipe is wrapped by the tape, install the new spout by turning it in a clockwise direction with a hollow wrench. Make sure it’s secured in place.

In addition, you will need to use an Allen wrench too. It will make it easier for you to tighten the new spout.

Step 3: Inspect and Wipe It Clean

The final step is about turning on the main water supply. Needless to say, you will also need to turn on the handle of your faucet in order to check whether it works properly.

If everything is done the right way, you will be able to use your bathtub without trouble. Don’t forget to wipe the area clean before starting to use it again.

FAQs About How to Fix a Stripped Faucet Handle

How to Repair a Stripped Shower Faucet Handle?

The process is the same as explained for the bathtub faucet handles. You should first remove the stem and the handle with the right tools.

The faulty stem and handle should be replaced with new ones. If they are still good, you need to insert a wire around the thread and set your faucet back in place.

How to Remove My Faucet Handle if It Has a Stripped Set Screw?

Here’s our step by step guide for how to remove a stripped Allen screw from a faucet.

You can use a flat-head screwdriver and rubber band. Alternatively, a screw extractor can be used for this job. To give the set screw a grip, wrap it with the rubber band. Then remove the faucet handle with a screwdriver by turning the band counterclockwise.


That was how to fix a stripped faucet handle. Easy, right? The entire process can be completed quickly without bringing in a professional. Once you learn how to fix a bathtub faucet handle, you’ll be able to apply this knowledge when fixing a sink and kitchen faucets too.

How to Fix a Cracked Toilet Tank – 6 Easy Steps

How to Refinish a Porcelain Sink

How to Fix a Wobbly Toilet – 6 Causes and Solutions

How to Remove a Stripped Allen Screw from a Faucet


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