There are a number of reasons you may need to take off a faucet handle, including to replace it, to change the faucet cartridge, to replace an o-ring or gasket, to clean inside the handle, to locate and repair a leak, and to change the filter.
No matter what reason you need to remove a faucet handle, this guide will help you figure out how to do just that so you don’t have to call a plumber. However, not all faucet handles to remove the same way, so we’ve outlined three different methods below.
If The Faucet Has A Button Or Cap
Locate & Remove The Button Or Cap
Many faucets aren’t truly screwless, then just have a button or decorative cap hiding the screws. See if you can locate one on the top or side of the handle.
If you find one, you can use a flathead screwdriver to remove it. Simply work it into the gap around the button or cap and work it around the button or cap, gently lifting as you go.
Be very careful while doing this because the caps and buttons are often easy to break. You can typically order a replacement if that does happen, but who wants to go through the hassle?
Shut Off The Water & Cover The Drain
If you’re going to change the cartridge, you’ll want to go ahead and turn off the water supply using the shut-off valve. Otherwise, you don’t need to.
Regardless of why you’re removing the handle, go ahead and cover the drain. It’s easy for a loose screw to fall down the drain but it’s harder to get it back out.
Remove The Screw & Handle
Now that the handle screw is exposed, simply remove it. It will typically have a hex screw or allen screw, so make sure you use the right size and type of wrench.
Once the screw is removed, you can simply lift the handle of the faucet up to remove it. If it’s too hard to do with your bare hands, you may need to use a faucet handle puller, if you happen to have one, or a pair of pliers.
However, pliers can scratch your faucet’s finish, so use an old towel or rag between the pliers and the handle to protect that finish.
Underneath the handle, you may find corrosion or mineral deposits, especially if the handle was difficult to remove. It’s a good idea to go ahead and use white vinegar or a purpose-made cleaning product like CLR Calcium, Lime, and Rust Removerto clean that up.
Doing so will make removal easier in the future and protect your faucet from damage and leaks.
To put the faucet back together, simply replace the pieces in reverse order from how you removed them.
Double Faucet Handles
Removing the handles from a double handle faucet is actually pretty easy.
First thing, go ahead and shut off the water, making sure that it’s off for each supply line.
Next, hold the handle in place. At the same time, rotate the base counterclockwise.
This should allow you to remove it, exposing the screw. Typically, it’s a Phillips head screw, so you’ll need the right size of Phillips head screwdriver to remove it.
Removing the screw will expose the cartridge. If you need to remove it, such as to install a new cartridge, you’ll need to use needle-nosed pliers to grip it and lift it.
This can be a bit trickier, but unfortunately, there’s not really a more straightforward method. If you have trouble, you may be able to reach out to your faucet manufacturer for help.
Lever-Style, Single Handle Faucets
The third method for faucet handle removal is for single lever handle style faucets.
These faucets will typically have cold and hot water buttons. Use a flat head screwdriver to carefully lift the buttons.
Again, these can be fragile, so use a gentle hand. Be sure to cover the drain as well, to ensure that you don’t lose a button down the drain.
Once you remove the button, it will expose the set screw. You can use an allen wrench (also called an allen key) to remove it.
Once you’ve done that, you can typically just lift the faucet handle off.
However, if it has a cartridge inside, you may need to unscrew a top piece as well to be able to remove the cartridge. To remove the cartridge itself, you may need pliers to grip and lift it.
Placing a towel between the cartridge and pliers will help protect the cartridge from damage.
If there isn’t a cartridge, you’ll now be able to access the inside of the spout body.
Final Thoughts On Removing A Faucet Handle Without Screws
Now you know how to remove the handle of a kitchen or bathroom sink faucet, as well as many bathtubs and shower faucets, even if you can’t see a screw. With this knowledge, you should be able to DIY many plumbing-related home improvement and maintenance jobs, so you don’t have to deal with the cost or inconvenience of calling in a plumber for simple fixes.
These instructions should help you with faucets made by major faucet manufacturers like Moen faucet, Kohler, Delta, and more.
However, they may not work for all faucets. If you still struggle, however, you can contact your faucet’s manufacturer’s customer service department for help.