Cut and replace
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Cut and wedge
Slice down the side of the cap with a rotary tool and a cutting
wheel. Don't worry about cutting the plastic seal (you'll be replacing
that). But avoid cutting into the brass threads.
If a cap doesn't twist free, and the cap is metal, not plastic,
heat the cap with a heat gun and grip it with the bare teeth
of a slip-joint pliers.
If heating doesn't work, or your faucet is plastic, cut the
cap with a rotary tool and a cutting wheel. Then
jam in a flat-blade screwdriver and widen the opening until
the cap unscrews. Buy a replacement cap at the home center. Coat the new cap threads with plumber's
grease to prevent it from sticking again.
Get aggressive with setscrews
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Get a better grip
Use a hex socket and valve grinding compound to avoid stripping the setscrew.
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Loosen with leverage
Squeeze the hex socket deep into the setscrew with one hand and
pull the ratchet handle with the other. Then loosen the setscrew
with a quick yanking motion.
If the hex wrench that comes with your repair kit won't loosen
the setscrew on the faucet, don't force it—you'll just ruin
the head. Spend a few bucks for a 3/8-in.-drive hex socket
kit. Buy a tube of valve grinding compound and apply a dollop to
the hex tip to reduce the likelihood of stripping the setscrew.
Then use a ratchet to break the screw free. If it
still won't budge (and the handle is metal and not plastic),
try heating it with a heat gun. As a last resort, drill out the
center of the setscrew and use a screw extractor to remove
the rest of it. Buy a new setscrew and coat it with anti-seize
compound before reinserting it.
Special tools are worth it
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Twist, pull, done
Line up the prongs on the tool with the ears on the cartridge and tighten the screw at
the top of the T-bar. Then turn the large nut with an adjustable wrench and twist the
T-handle as you turn. The cartridge will pull right out.
Replacement cartridges usually come with a plastic loosening tool. If the cartridge
is really stuck, the loosening tool can actually break off the cartridge ears
and turn the job into a real nightmare. Even if you get the cartridge to rotate, you
may still have to yank hard to get it out. Save yourself a lot of time (and sweat)
by forking over a few bucks for a cartridge puller from amazon.com
or a home center. Install it and pull the cartridge in minutes.
Know when to throw in the towel
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Don't fight it; replace it
If you feel a groove where the
O-rings mate to the spout, the
faucet is toast. Don't waste any
more time and energy on O-ring
repairs—you'll never get a long-lasting
seal. Replace the faucet.
It makes sense that a pivoting
kitchen spout will leak
if the O-rings are worn. But
brass wears too. So if you've
replaced the spout O-rings
and the leak reappears in a
few months (or weeks), check
the inside of the spout.