How to Fix a Broken Bathtub Handle

How to Fix a Broken Bathtub Handle

Did you know that leaky pipes and faucets can cause up to 10,000 gallons of annual water waste? 

Depending on the issue, a leak in the home might be better-suited for a plumber. There are some handy ways to DIY minor faucet and bathtub handle repairs.

When you fix a broken faucet in a bathtub, you can use those same steps for your kitchen or even outdoor faucet. These home improvement skills could save you hundreds on your water bill over the years!

What Tools and Supplies Will You Need to Fix the Broken Faucet?

When working with the faucet itself, you can expect to come into contact with pieces of plastic, hexagonal nuts, and other components. But these are all part of the equipment. You don’t need to bring them with you to the job.

As you prepare to address the broken faucet, you should have the following tools with you:

  •     A flathead screwdriver
  •     A scraper
  •     A few metal washers
  •     Plumber’s tape
  •     A wrench

You’ll need to disassemble and reassemble parts of the faucet, but this shouldn’t be too difficult. The faucet model might affect where different pieces are found. If your faucet came with an owner’s manual, you can use it to see which pieces go where.

7 Steps to Fixing Your Broken Bathtub Faucet

Some of these steps will vary slightly depending on whether you’re dealing with a broken faucet or handle. With a broken faucet, the tap will continue dripping no matter how you position the handle.

With a broken handle, you won’t be able to close the valve all the way.

You can use the same basic principles for fixing both the handle and faucet of your shower.

1. Turn off the water

It’s vital with any plumbing job that you turn off your water supply before you get started. If you fail to do this, you could end up flooding your bathroom or causing other serious water damage. Depending on the job, the situation could even end up dangerous!

You don’t necessarily need to turn off the water in your entire household. But you do need to shut it off in whatever bathroom you’re working in.

This step should be pretty simple, as long as you know where the shutoff valve is. If you aren’t sure, try checking a cupboard or supply cabinet in the bathroom. These are the most common areas for a valve to be installed in new homes.

2. Pry the plastic caps off the knob of the faucet

Not every faucet will have these. But if yours does, they have to go. With some models, you’ll be able to screw or pop the plastic off.

If you find that the plastic won’t budge, insert a flathead screwdriver between the edge and the faucet itself. This will help you loosen it. Don’t use too much force, as that can cause damage.

Once you’ve removed the caps, put them somewhere safe so that you can set them back easily later.

3. Loosen the screw on the handle

You’ll use your screwdriver for this once again. By loosening the screw, you’ll be able to remove the faucet from the wall. You might need either a flathead or a Phillips head screwdriver, depending on the type of screw.

If you find that the screw is stuck, you might need to get some WD-40 from your local hardware store. This material helps to grease and loosen stuck metal, making repairs easier.

When the screw is loose, pull back on the handle to get it off of the faucet stem. Now the valve stem is exposed.

4. Locate the packing nuts on the stem’s top and bottom

Using either your screwdriver or your fingers, you can unscrew and remove these. Then it’s easy to pull the stem out of the faucet.

5. Holding the stem upside down, loosen the bottom retention nut

The retention nut should be located at the base of the stem. You can loosen it with your flathead screwdriver. Once this is loosened, you can take out the washer.

While you have the stem open like this, use your scraper to get rid of any silt or calcium deposits. These can cause the faucet to have trouble closing. Put a new washer into the contraption and throw out the old one.

Once all this is done, you can secure the new washer with the retention nut. Any washer-related leaks should be solved.

6. Wrap the valve stem’s threads in plumber’s tape

Make sure that you wrap each thread in a minimum of two layers of tape. Once you’re done, trim the excess. This will help with any leaks related to the stem threads themselves.

You can put the stem back in the faucet. Use your wrench to tighten it until it’s firm. Now you can put the packing nut back and tighten it likewise.

7. Put the faucet knob back on

Now that you’ve addressed potential leaks in the stem, you can put the faucet knob back on and secure it. Put any protective plastic caps back on.


A broken bathtub faucet handle can be both costly and annoying. But there are surprisingly easy DIY fixes available. Whether the issue is caused by a leaky connection, an old piece of plastic, or poor construction, you can address the problem at the source.

Make sure you have tools like a screwdriver and wrench with you. It may also help to have the manual for your handle or faucet on hand. But if you don’t have that, most faucets have relatively similar construction. You should be able to locate the parts you need without much issue.

One neat thing to keep in mind is that bathtub faucets function similarly to kitchen faucets and shower faucets in the rest of your house. So if you figure out how to fix one, you can fix faucets anywhere on your property.