How To Fix A Stripped Bathtub Faucet Handle? 5 Steps

One of the worst things that can happen on a good day is to realize your bathtub faucet handle is stripped while you are taking a nice bath. Not only is it frustrating because it becomes difficult to adjust the water for now.

If your bathtub has a faucet with one handle, you will be spared from the temperature control issue. On the other hand, if it has a two-handle faucet, controlling the hot and cold water will be difficult.

However, if you know how to fix a stripped bathtub faucet handle, this issue can be solved before you shower next time.

Table of Contents

Reasons Behind A Stripped Bathtub Faucet Handle

how to fix a stripped shower faucet handle

We know that nothing happens without reason. Just like that, there are reasons why a faucet handle would strip.

  • A long time of use.
  • Corrosion.
  • Tear on stem or cartridge.
  • Faulty handle.

But, as every problem has a solution, there are solutions for this problem too. So, without wasting any more time, check out the rest of the article to find out more on how to fix a stripped bathtub faucet handle.

Things You Will Need

Here is a list of things that you will need.

  • Flat-head screwdriver. Here’s a link to cheap and great options over at Amazon.
  • Socket wrench. You can start on this page to look for your model (link to Amazon).
  • Allen wrench. Check out some really cool Allen wrench ( link to Amazon )
  • Pliers. Get yours here on Amazon.
  • Measuring tape. Grab this one here of
  • Teflon tape. You can find them at good prices here at Amazon.
  • Rag.  You can start on this page to look for your model (link to Amazon).

In case the handle and stem turn out to be faulty, you will need:

  • New faucet handle.
  • New stem.

These tools are usually available at home. But if you don’t have them, you can purchase them from any hardware store.

How To Fix A Stripped Bathtub Faucet Handle
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How To Fix A Stripped Bathtub Faucet Handle

Fixing a stripped faucet handle is not an easy task, but it is not hard either. And for your better understanding, I’ll be explaining the entire fixing and replacing procedure in four parts here.

Part 1: Removing The Old Faucet Handle And Stem

It would be best if you began with removing the old parts like the faucet handle and the stem.

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Step 1: Turn Off Water Supply

Many houses don’t have a separate water line for bathtub faucets. So, when you are trying to fix it, you will have to turn off the entire house’s water supply. It will help you work without any interruption and without wasting water.

Step 2: Drain The Excess Water From Faucet

Even though the waterline is turned off, there will still be water left inside the faucet. So turn on the faucet to drain the excess water and turn it off afterward. It would be best if you also covered the bathtub drain so that nothing falls out and gets lost while you are fixing the handle.

Step 3: Remove The Index From The Stem

The index is a small coin-sized cover on the handle. Most faucet handles have them. Use a flat-head screwdriver to remove the index. Just insert the screwdriver’s head under its edge and pry it off by gently pushing the screwdriver upward.

Step 4: Loosen The Screw

Once the index is removed, you will notice a screw inside the handle. Some faucet handles don’t have an index. In that case, you need to start with removing the screw.

Use the screwdriver again to press on the screw and turn it to a counterclockwise motion. When it comes loose, keep the screw aside in a secure place so that it wouldn’t fall in the drain or get lost in any other way.

Step 5: Unscrew The Stem

After removing the handle, you will see that a pipe is sticking out from the wall. Grab around the pipe with a hollow socket wrench at first. Then use pliers to grip the wrench and twist it in a counterclockwise motion.

When the stem comes loose, remove it from the wall. If your bathtub faucet has more than one handle, you will have to repeat this process to remove each of them.

Part 2: Removing The Spout

This part is about removing the bathtub spout. And here is how you can do it.

Step 1: Loosen The Screw

Look underneath the tub spout and look for a screw. Then use an Allen wrench to turn it until it comes loose. When the screw comes loose, secure it in a place and pull off the spout.

Step 2: Remove The Screw

Some spouts don’t have any such screws. If so, you can skip this part and remove it in another way.

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Take a pair of pliers and grab around the spout with it. Then turn it to a counterclockwise motion. If you want to avoid scratching the spout, put a dry rag around the spout before using the pliers.

Step 3: Inspect The Problem Area To Know The Reason

Look for the reason for stripping. If the handle and stem are faulty, both of them need to be replaced. And, to replace them, you need to measure the length of the pipe.

Take a measure that is longer than the old pipe. Take your old stem and handle with you to store so that you know exactly what to look for.

The hardware store clerk can help you find the right replacement. One more thing, choose the handle that matches the design and color of the old handle.

Part 3: Installing The New Handles And Stems

Now it’s time to install the new handle and stem. Follow the steps to do it right.

Step 1: Install The New Stem Into Pipe

It is pretty much the reverse of everything you have done to remove the handle and stem. Insert the stem’s thread area into the pipe’s hole on the wall and use the socket wrench to tighten it.

For multiple handled faucets, repeat the process for other items too. Do not over-tighten the stem or the pipe will be damaged.

Step 2: Install The New Handle

After the stem is secured in place, push the handle over the stem. Then use the screwdriver to tighten the screw to secure the handle and put it on the index. If there’s a gap between the handle and wall, you can caulk around the place to water-tight it.

Part 4: Install The Spout

The final part is about installing the spout and finishing the task. If the reason behind the stripped faucet handle is the thread on the stem, you can skip buying new parts and follow these steps instead. And if you are wondering how to fix a stripped bathtub faucet handle with Teflon tape, here is your answer.

Step 1: Secure With Teflon Tape

Stripped faucet handle can often be tightened with Teflon tape. It prevents the spout from backing toward the wall.

Wrap at least two layers of Teflon tape around the end of the pipe that is coming out of the wall. Once the wrapping is done, tear the tape or cut it and press it with your finger to seal the end.

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Step 2: Install The Spout

Slide the new spout or the old one over the pipe wrapped by Teflon tape. Then start turning it in a clockwise motion to secure it in place. And make sure it is set up properly, use a hollow socket wrench to turn the spout.

And remember how you were to loosen the spout that has a screw. You have to do the same thing in reverse to install the spout, and that is using an Allen wrench.

Step 3: Final Check And Cleanup

Finally, after everything is done, turn on the water supply of the house. And then turn on the faucet handle to check how it is working now.

You can start using the bathtub right away without delay. But make sure to clean up the area before you do so.

Check our latest guide about: How to remove Moen bathroom faucet handle.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Do You Remove A Faucet Handle When The Set Screw Is Stripped?

To remove a stripped set screw, you will need a rubber band and a flat-head screwdriver.

  • Wrap the rubber band over the set screw to give it a grip.
  • Now use a flat-head screwdriver to turn the band in a counterclockwise motion to remove it.

You can use a screw extractor as an alternative. If you have the extractor of the right size, all you need to do is to insert it in the screw and then remove the screw.

2. How To Fix A Stripped Shower Faucet Handle?

You can fix a stripped shower faucet handle, in the same way, I mentioned the fixing of the bathtub faucet handle. Use the right tools to remove the handle and the stem first.

If the handle and stems are faulty, you will need to purchase new ones. If not, you can insert wire or wrap Teflon tape around the thread and install the faucet back in place.

Final Words

For those who want to know how to fix a stripped bathtub faucet handle, the steps mentioned earlier are all you need to be aware of. This entire process does not take much time to complete. However, rushing on it will end up giving you a bad result.

So take your time as you work on each step and make sure to take care of the small objects like screws or nuts. The best part of learning this is that if you can fix your bathtub faucet handle, you can apply this skill to fix your kitchen or sink faucet too.

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