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How To Fix a Stiff Faucet Handle

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

When you need to run the water in your sink, the last thing you need is to be fighting with a stiff faucet handle.

Not only are stiff faucet handles annoying, but they can also be incredibly inconvenient as well. No one wants to be struggling with the faucet handle when they are in dire need of a drink of water. 

How to Fix a Stiff Faucet Handle

Fixing your faucet handle is something that needs to be done as quickly as possible, so you do not get further problems such as the handle breaking completely. This would be a disaster no matter where the faucet is located.

The good news is that fixing a stiff faucet handle is not usually too difficult. In this guide, we are going to walk you through how to fix a stiff faucet handle, so you no longer have to battle with it. 

Why Is The Faucet Handle Stiff? 

There are many reasons why your faucet handle might be stiff. One reason is that some of the internal parts of your faucet handle have become worn.

When this happens, the fix depends on how worn out the inside parts of your faucet are. Sometimes, you might need to replace the handles. 

Another reason your faucet handles might have become stiff is that there is a build of minerals in the handle. These deposits often cause blocks in the handle that prevent it from moving. 

How To Fix A Stiff Faucet Handle

Now that you are aware of some of the reasons your faucet handle might be stiff, it is time to look at how to loosen the handle. 

In order to work out what is causing the problem, you are going to need to disassemble the faucet handle. 


  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Allen Wrench
  • Towel
  • Adjustable Wrench
How to Fix a Stiff Faucet Handle (1)

Step One

The first thing you need to do is grab all of your equipment. One thing that is not on the list above is a replacement cartridge. This will be needed if the current cartridge is beyond repair. 

After you have gathered all of the equipment you need, it is time to switch off the water supply. This will help to prevent any unfortunate problems that might occur if the water stays on. 

Step Two

Once the water supply has been turned off, you need to put the towel on top of the drain.

This is to stop any parts of the faucet from falling down the drain. Then you can start to remove the screw that is keeping the handle attached to your faucet.

The screw should be able to be removed using the Allen wrench or the screwdriver. 

If you are unable to find the screw, it might be because a cap is hiding the screw. Some faucet handles have caps to hide any screws, to make the handle look sleek. Remove the cap and the screw should become visible to you. 

Some faucet handles do not have a screw keeping them in place at all. For these handles, you just need to rotate the handle until it comes off.

Although you don’t need to remove the screw, when these handles come off there will be a nut that is exposed. You need to remove this nut. 

Step Three

After you have removed the handle, you need to examine the cartridge. It is important to keep a note of the position of the cartridge.

We would recommend taking a photo of the cartridge at this point. Then you can start to remove the cartridge. 

In order to remove the cartridge, you need to get the pliers and grab the cartridge. Then use the pliers to pull the cartridge out. 

One complication that may occur here, is that some faucet manufacturers will require a cartridge puller to remove the cartridge. We would recommend researching the brand to see if this is the case before removing the cartridge.

Step Four

Next, you need to clean the cartridge. It is important to check the cartridge to see if any of it is worn.

There might be some areas of the cartridge that are rusty (see also ‘Rusty Hot Water – What To Do‘). To wash the rust, use a small wire brush and some vinegar. This can help to remove the rust by loosening the rust so it can be removed. 

At this point, you need to make a decision on whether the damage is not repairable. If you determine that the damage cannot be undone, then the next step is to purchase a replacement cartridge.

Step Five

Clean the rest of the faucet and once this is done, you can reassemble the faucet.

This is where the picture of the original placement of the cartridge comes in handy. It is important to place the cartridge back into its original position. Make sure the cartridge is secure and tighten the nut. 

Place the faucet handle back onto the faucet. Then put the screw back into place and tighten to ensure the faucet handle stays attached. At this point, you can try the handle. The handle should be working properly.

Then you can turn the water supply on. 

Using WD-40

WD-40 is known for making things that are stiff, loosen up. It is possible to try and use WD-40 on your faucet handle to make it loosen.

All you have to do is spray a small amount of WD-40 on the faucet handle, which should lubricate the. It is important to spray WD-40 in the joint where it moves. This may allow the handle to move easily. 

Final Thoughts

Fixing a stiff faucet handle is easier than it sounds. The process might take some time but it is not difficult to do.

There is also the option of trying WD-40 before dismantling your faucet handle if you do not feel comfortable doing that straight away. Although, this might only be a temporary fix. 

Hopefully, following these steps will help to make your faucet handle work as it used to do. Please share this guide with others who might benefit from reading this. Thank you for reading! 

author avatar
Charlie Hardcastle


On Key

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