Repair a drippy ball-type faucet using these pro tricks to deal with stubborn screws. You may have to replace the handle, but not the entire faucet.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:September 2005
If the Allen screw is stuck, or if you strip it so it won't come out, remove the cap with the handle still in place. You can't grab the flattened edges with the handle in place. Instead, cushion the jaws of pliers and grip the round edge below.
If you can’t loosen the Allen screw on the handle of a ball-type faucet, don’t let that 15¢ screw force you
into a $100 faucet replacement…
just yet! Normally you have to remove
the handle to get the worn rubber seats
that cause the drip (Figure A). First try
spraying the screw with penetrating oil
every day for a week. Then try the screw
to see if it’ll come (Photo). If this doesn’t do it, or if you finally strip the head of the
Allen screw, try drilling out the screw. Use a
bit about the same size as the screw and
work carefully. You’ll ruin the handle and
have to replace it, but it’s well worth it if you
can save the valve. As a final resort, you can
actually unscrew the cap with the handle
still connected (see Figure A for the parts).
This is tricky, because you can’t grab the flat
edge of the cap, the part that’s shaped for the
pliers (Figure A). Make sure to cushion the
jaws well when you grip the smooth,
rounded body of the cap. Use rubber tape,
because you can’t squeeze the cap too hard.
Turn the cap counterclockwise to unscrew
it. The assembly you remove will contain
the handle, cap, cam, packing and ball (Figure
The next challenge is to break the
ball from its stem. (The Allen screw
clamps onto the stem.) Try grabbing it
with the pliers and twisting. The goal is
to separate the parts so that you can
salvage and reuse the cap. You’ll still
have to buy a new handle and a repair
kit that includes a new ball.
If this doesn’t work, the only solution is to
replace the entire faucet. This is a tough fix.
Ball-type faucets have these parts. A repair kit will have the key parts to replace to stop drips.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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