A Plumbing Guide on How to Fix a Stripped Faucet Handle Successfully

Having to deal with a stripped faucet handle can be infuriating because it causes the tap to spin. It’s a very common household problem that leaves many people wondering how to fix a stripped faucet handle.

The good news here is that you can do the handle fix yourself in around ten minutes using the right tools and a $20 budget. There are a lot of different faucets out there but in this guide, we are focusing in on a stem replacement for a two-handled faucet.

The cause of a stripped shower faucet handle is usually because of wear or tear on the stem or faucet cartridge. This cartridge is attached to the faucet handles and they then work together so that the flow of water can be controlled. Once the faucet cartridge is stripped down the handle will become loose or it will just spin on its end.

Let’s look at the five easy steps to fixing your stripped faucet handles.

Step 1 – Turn Off the Water

Before starting to replace any faucet handles or the stem you need to turn off your water supply. This can be done using the valve to your main water supply which will be on your property, normally on the interior. Another step is to cover your drain so that screws and locking nuts don’t fall down and be lost forever.

Step 2 – Remove the Faucet Handles

To start replacing the faucet cartridge you have to remove the handles or the cover plates that are there for decoration. You can usually unscrew these with your fingers but a cover plate will need to be removed with the help of a flathead screwdriver. The connecting screw comes next so you’ll need either a Phillips head screwdriver or an Allen wrench to remove it.

Step 3 – Remove the Locking Nut

With many faucet models once you remove the handle you will see a locking nut which is there to keep the cartridge in place. This is easy to remove with a basic tool such as a pipe wrench. An important thing to notice here is that there is a small brass screw at the top of the faucet cartridge. We would recommend that this is removed and put to one side as a lot of new cartridges won’t come with this screw.

Step 4 – Remove the Faucet Cartridge

Once the locking nut has been removed you should be able to life the old cartridge out of the faucet. You may experience a little resistance, especially if the unit is old, but a wiggle with some pliers from a hardware store should get it moving again. If you don’t already have a new faucet stem ready to go, make sure to head to your local DIY shop and take the old cartridge so you can make a comparison and buy the right size.

Step 5 – Replace the Faucet

After your visit to the hardware store, you can replace the cartridge with the new one. Getting this in place is easy, just follow all of these steps but in the reverse order until you’ve got a working tap once again. It’s really easy once you know how to do it.

If you want to repair the faucet handle in the future then you can tighten up the screw at any time if you feel like it’s becoming loose. This will slow down the stripping of the faucet, prevents leaks and means you can use your tap for many years to come.



If this process is giving you real problems and you can’t figure out how to replace a faucet cartridge then reach out to a local plumber. It’s much better to call in the help of a professional than cause further damage by attempting it yourself. Get some helpful hints on the most commonly asked questions in our FAQ section below and make sure to check out the other guides to sinks and plumbing on our website.


How do you fix a spinning faucet handle?

A spinning faucet handle is generally caused by wear to the faucet stem which is also known as the faucet cartridge. To stop it spinning you can remove the faucet from the sink and replace the cartridge with a new one.

How do you rethread a faucet handle?

Rethreading a faucet handle isn’t really an option once it has been worn down. It’s much better to replace the handle instead.

How do you fix a faucet handle that keeps coming off?

Again this will be an issue with the faucet stem or cartridge. The cartridge attaches to the faucet handle so that the two can work together and control the flow of water. Once the stem has been stripped the handle will become loose and come off, or just keep spinning. For this problem you will need to buy replacement cartridges and install them on your taps.

How do I fix my kitchen faucet handle?

Use a screwdriver to pop off the decorative cap. Lift or turn the faucet handle so you can see the screws and then remove these with a hex key or wrench. Slide the handle off from the valve stem. Use your new faucet and reattach the handle by placing it onto the valve stem and then tighten the screws back up. Put the decorative cap back on and voila!

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