When kitchen or bathroom faucet repairs go bad, they can be a nightmare. Professional plumbers share their solutions for disassembly and repair problems, with tips about when to give up and buy a new faucet.
By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine:February 2011
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.
Use a hex socket and valve grinding compound to avoid stripping the setscrew.
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.
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.
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.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
You may also need a rotary tool, a hex socket set, a heat gun and a cartridge puller.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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