How To Remove A Stuck Faucet Handle

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Stuck faucet handles are unavoidable because of wear and tear around the home. But, no matter on the brand, you’ll stand the chance of stuck faucet handles. Faulty cartridges, scale or lime deposits, or bright green color of other mineral deposits from the water to a corroded faucet handle are ready to present a unique challenge. Even low-grade stainless steel can lead to needing excessive force.

Knowing how to remove a stuck faucet handle will come in handy at some stage, and while it can be an easy task, it can be tricky if you have never done it before. The best way to deal with a stuck faucet handle is to remove it. Even if you plan to keep the faucet hardware, remove the stuck faucet to get rid of any build-up before you can use it again.

To fix any valves or cartridges, you’ll also need to remove a stuck faucet handle. Most of the tools needed you may have around the home, or they are easily found in the local hardware store. In our guide, you can learn how to remove bathroom faucet or the ones in the kitchen.

By the end, you’ll know all the steps on how to remove a stuck faucet handle, clean the corrosion inside, and have your faucet working, or replace it with a new one. (Learn How Does A Faucet Work)

Why Is My Faucet Handle Stuck?

If you can’t remove faucet handle as it remains stuck, here’s a few reasons why it could be.


Corrosion is a chemical reaction where material (most often metal) reacts chemically with its surroundings. When atoms on the metal surface oxidize, metal corrodes and you end up with a stubborn faucet handle.

Corrosion is similar to rust debris and occurs when the faucet valve inside and the tap handle are exposed to water and air.


Oxidation, like corrosion, is a chemical reaction. The term “oxidize” refers to combining something with oxygen.

When the faucet handle comes into contact with the air, it loses electrons to oxygen, causing oxidation.

Because of the build-up, it may be difficult to remove a stuck faucet handle.

Faulty Cartridge

A defective cartridge might result from a variety of factors. For example, it’s possible that the cartridge is clogged or that the rubber O-rings have worn out. (Read Danco O-Ring Sizes Chart)

A malfunctioning cartridge could cause a leaking sink or insufficient water pressure.

Worn Gaskets

A failing gasket or worn-out O-ring could cause noticeable black powder build-up on the faucet handle.

Rubber washers called gaskets and rings provide a seal to keep water out and are the first parts of your faucet to fail as they are exposed to water.

Mineral Deposit Formation

If you have hard water in your home, the minerals in the water can lead to scale deposits accumulating and cause calcium and lime or scale deposits.

Mineral deposits stick to the faucet hardware, causing the faucet handle to become stiff.

You must remove the handle before you can fix a faucet valve. This isn’t normally a difficult procedure, but corrosion might cause the faucet to stick if it’s old or in a high-humidity climate.

Using tools and supplies from around the house, you can usually persuade it without damaging the finish. If it still won’t budge, you’ll need to go to the hardware shop and get a faucet puller.

Overview of removing faucet handle.

Remove the handle holding screw with a Phillips screwdriver and pry off the faucet cap with a slot screwdriver.

Spray the screw with lubrication, wait a few minutes, and then try again. If required, repeat the process.

Grasp the handle and pull it away from the valve stem straight.

In the gap between the handle and the valve stem, squirt a few drops of penetrating oil or spray lubricant then wait a while.

Fix a scrap of wood to the faucet’s body. Pry up on the handle with the tip of a slot screwdriver wedged beneath the base of the handle.

If this fails, you have no choice but to get a faucet puller for the central shaft. Steps for using this tool effectively are in one of the following sections. In many cases, these tools are a last resort, so don’t purchase one unless you know you need one.

How Do You Loosen A Stuck Faucet Handle?

Aside from a few tools, you’ll need basic supplies, which may be found at any hardware store. The following is a list of things you need.

  • Flat-head screwdriver (slot screwdriver)
  • Wrench
  • Allen wrench for some brands of faucet
  • Hammer
  • Penetrating oil or Spray lubricant
  • Vinegar or scale dissolver
  • 1/4 inch rubber tubing
  • Small, stiff-bristle brush
  • Dry rag

1. Remove Scale Or Lime Deposits

On older faucet handles, scale or lime deposits are common. The faucet handles begin to stick as mineral deposits develop.

If you reside in an area with hard water and don’t have a water treatment system, these deposits tend to build up quickly, causing the handle to become stuck. (Learn How To Remove Sink Stopper Without Pivot Rod)

Even stainless steel or other corrosion-resistant metal alloys can develop this accumulation. Scales are usually light brown in appearance, whereas lime deposits are bright green.

Mineral salts, tend to leave a coarse and crusty residue. Unfortunately, it’s all too common and easy to fix. Follow the steps below.

These deposits can occur in any portion of your home, including kitchen sinks, bathroom faucets, and shower faucets. Even corrosion-resistant metal alloys can occur in mineral deposits.

Mineral deposits can be easily removed, fortunately.

Steps on how to loosen faucet handle

  1. Carefully pry beneath the faucet cap with a flat-head screwdriver and pry off the cap, allowing easy access to the valve area.
  2. Over the handle, pour undiluted white vinegar. Most surfaces are suitable for vinegar, so don’t panic when it drips all over your faucet and into your sink. If you’re concerned about the finish on your sink, throw a dry cloth over it to catch drips.
  3. You can also use white vinegar in a spray bottle to target the open faucet cap and handle base with pinpoint accuracy.
  4. Attach a 1/4-inch rubber tubing or thin nozzle to the sprayer to get the white vinegar between the handle and the valve stem if you can’t reach behind the faucet handle.
  5. Allow the vinegar to settle for about an hour. Then, the vinegar’s acid will dissolve the mineral deposits, freeing up the handle.
  6. Apply vinegar again if the faucet is still stuck after an hour.
  7. Rinse and wipe with a dry towel before you assemble your tap.

If you know you have lime deposits, pick up a commercial scale dissolver from a home improvement store. This can be used in place of or beside the vinegar.

Tip: You can place a plastic bag around your faucet to catch drips and also hold more white vinegar around the tap that needs cleaning.

2. Use Oil and Gentle Force

If your handle remains stuck, you may need to try this method.

You’re probably dealing with a corroded faucet handle because the rust and corrosion have spread deeper than you can see.

It is still possible to do this as a do-it-yourself project, but it will require some time and elbow grease.

  1. Begin by removing the faucet cap with your flat head screwdriver as with the previous steps.
  2. Remove the top screw (set screw) after cleaning the rust within the valve with the stiff bristle brush if you haven’t already.
  3. Soak the valve and the faucet handle with penetrating oil inside. Then, use a sprayer with a narrow nozzle to help you apply the oil precisely.
  4. Let the oil sit for a few minutes before using.
  5. Hold the handle in a dry towel to give leverage. If it’s still stuck, gently tap the handle as you apply gentle pressure in a counterclockwise direction to open the faucet.
  6. Take care to avoid contact with the valve stem, faucet stem, or another part of your faucet or sink that needs to be avoided.
  7. Get your wrench out if you still can’t turn the handle. Then, turn the wrench in the direction by tightening the wrench around the faucet handle and applying steady, gentle pressure.
  8. The torque of the wrench, together with the lubrication of the penetrating oil treatment, should loosen the stuck handle.
  9. Remove the wrench as soon as you feel movement and continue to loosen the handle using your hands.
  10. Note: The faucet handle can be damaged if you use too much force with the wrench.

Should neither of these two methods or the following method work, you’ll need a faucet handle puller.

  1. Open the puller
  2. Place the central shaft in the middle of the handle set screw hole
  3. Hook the puller’s arms beneath the base.
  4. When you turn the handgrip in a clockwise direction, the puller raises the handle from the faucet stem.

Points To Remember When Removing Stuck Faucet Handle

  • Excessive force should be avoided. To avoid injury, be forceful but gentle.
  • To turn on the water, always tap or twist the faucet handles in the correct direction.
  • Use a lot of vinegar or penetrating oil if you’re using it.
  • Use the shutoff valve to turn off the water supply before making any repairs.

How Do You Remove Corroded Faucet Handles?

Corrosion or mineral buildup on a metal unit can restrict movement, and if your faucet is low-grade stainless steel you may have a rust issue. (Learn How To Plumb A Double Kitchen Sink With Disposal And Dishwasher)

The mineral buildup is not as common if you have a water treatment system or water softener. A stuck faucet handle is likely a result of corrosion on the sink valves.

  1. Using a flat-head screwdriver, remove the faucet cap. Unscrew the set screw underneath to get better access to the valve.
  2. Rust is most likely present if the valve is brownish-red in color.
  3. Remove the rust deposit with a little wire brush and short brushing motion. As you work, wipe the brush with a dry rag to capture more rust particles.
  4. Turn the handle to see what happens. If the handle becomes loose, grab it with a dry rag and turn it to release the rest of the rust.

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