How To Repair a Two Handle Cartridge Faucet

  • 01 of 09

    Repairing a Two-Handle Cartridge Faucet

    Close-up of a bathroom sink
    Glow Decor / Getty Images

    Repairing a leaky faucet is one of the most common repairs in the home. However, due to the various types of faucets available, many homeowners don't know where to start or think the new style faucets are too complicated to repair. I'll show you how easy it can be in this tutorial and you'll save yourself $75 in plumbing bills in the process.

    As we mentioned, there are several styles of faucets. This tutorial is on replacing a two handle cartridge type bathroom faucet.

    Needed Tools and...MORE Materials

    • Allen Wrench
    • Pipe Wrench or Channel-Lock Pliers
    • Phillips Head Screwdriver
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  • 02 of 09

    Turn Off Water Supply at Sink

    Man doing sanitary installations.
    Guido Mieth / Getty Images

    The first step in the faucet repair is to locate the water shutoff to your faucet and turn off the water to the leaking faucet. The water shutoff is usually found directly under the sink and consists of a small valve and a small handle. If the valve is similar to the style shown here, turn the handle clockwise to tighten and shut it off. More modern valves may have a toggle style lever that needs to be turned so it is opposite how you find it when the valve is open and the water is running.

    If...MORE your house does not have local shutoff valves, then you'll need to go to the water main and shut off the water supply there (see how to shut off a water supply).

    Once the water is shut off, then open the faucet fully releasing any pressure and letting the water drain out.

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  • 03 of 09

    Remove Handle Lever or Cover Plate

    A close-up of a silver faucet sink in a yellow bathroom
    gwmullis / Getty Images

    Since no one wants to look at an unsightly connection holding your faucet handle together, the handle body will be attached discreetly to the faucet cartridge. The connection may be concealed under a plastic cover plate as found on the top of some handles or on the side and under a handle as shown in this photo. In any case, in order to gain access to the attaching screw, you'll probably have to remove a cover plate or handle first.

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  • 04 of 09

    Remove Faucet Body

    faucet repair - remove faucet body
    Remove the Screw Holding the Faucet Body. © 2006

    Once you have removed the faucet handle or cover plate, you can gain access to the screw holding the faucet body to the cartridge. The screw may be a Phillips head screw if found on top of the handle (under a plastic cover plate) or it may be a discrete Allen screw like the one shown in the above photo. Remove the screw and lift the faucet body off the faucet cartridge stem.

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  • 05 of 09

    Remove Locking Nut Securing Faucet Cartridge

    faucet repair - remove lock nut
    Remove the Lock Nut Which Secures the Faucet Cartridge. © 2006

    Once the faucet body is removed, you can then access the locking nut that is probably holding the cartridge down. Some models of faucets don't have a lock nut but most do. Loosen and remove the nut by using a pipe wrench as shown here or Channel-Lock type pliers.

    Note the brass screw at the top of this cartridge. Its purpose is to reinforce the stem when the faucet body's Allen screw is tightened against it. You may need to remove this old screw and reuse it in the new cartridge as not...MORE all replacement cartridges come with a new screw.

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  • 06 of 09

    Remove Old Faucet Cartridge and Purchase Replacement

    faucet repair - remove faucet cartridge
    Remove Old Faucet Cartridge. © 2006

    Once the lock ring is removed, simply lift the old cartridge out. You may need to use some pliers since these can get stuck a little.

    Now that you have it removed, it's time for a little trip to the hardware store to get a replacement cartridge. It's usually a good idea to bring the old faucet cartridge along as it makes finding a replacement a lot more fool proof. Sometimes the hardware store clerks just need to see the old one and can immediately show you where to find the replacement.

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  • 07 of 09

    The Faucet Cartridge - What it Looks Like

    faucet repair - the faucet cartridge
    A Faucet Cartridge. © 2006

    We know you've been wondering what this little guy looks like anyway. Well, here he is in all his glory. A simple little invention that makes plumbing simple and easy.

    The faucet cartridge is self-contained with all the inner workings necessary to let your water flow and shut off easy and reliably.

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  • 08 of 09

    Replace With New Faucet Cartridge

    faucet repair - replace faucet cartridge
    Replace With a New Faucet Cartridge. © 2006

    Now that you have your new cartridge in hand, replace the little brass screw in the top of the shaft if necessary and then place the cartridge back into its housing. Be careful to align the cartridge according to the slots in the housing and the faucet cartridge itself. It's not hard, there is really only one way this will work anyway.

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  • 09 of 09

    Reassemble Faucet and Restore Water Supply

    High End Faucet and Sink
    Robert Simon / Getty Images

    Now all you have to do is reassemble the faucet by replacing the lock ring, tighten the faucet body down and replace the handle or cover plate. Restore the water supply and check for leaks. But don't worry. If you followed the directions in this tutorial you won't have any.

    Now you can get that good night's sleep you've been trying for without the faucet taunting you any longer!