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How to Disassemble a Faucet

Expert advice on how to take apart bathroom faucets, with illustrated diagrams of how a compression, ceramic-disc, ball and cartridge faucet works.

Do you need to disassemble a bathroom faucet to repair it? If you do, this guide should help.

First turn off the water supply valves under the sink.

sink shut off valveLightWaveMedia / Shutterstock.com

Turn off water to the faucet by turning the valve under the sink clockwise.

Place a towel in the sink to prevent scratches and to catch any dropped parts.

Then remove the handle. To do this, use a small, flat screwdriver to pry up the decorative cap, button, or plug at the top of the handle, used to hide a screw. The method for removing this can be a bit of a mystery, depending upon the faucet manufacturer. If you can’t find a tiny, hidden screw or fastener, the chances are pretty good that you just pry it off.

Then unscrew the screw that holds the handle and pull or pry off the handle.

Lay out the parts in order as you remove them so you won’t have trouble re-assembling the faucet. And be sure to note the manufacturer’s name on the faucet (if you can find it) and take the old parts with you when you go to buy replacements. If you have the name of the manufacturer, you might also be able to search online for the manufacturer’s instructions for that particular model.

To disassemble a faucet, begin by moving the trims—then follow the diagrams below.Ernest R. Prim / Shutterstock.com

To disassemble a faucet, begin by moving the trims—then follow the diagrams below.

Compression-Style Faucet

Unscrew the bonnet from the faucet base, using slip-joint pliers. Then remove the valve stem; this has reverse threads, so unscrew it by turning it clockwise. Once you have it out, replace all rubber washers and O-rings. For more, see How a Compression Faucet Works.

Compression Faucet Diagram

Compression Faucet Diagram

Ceramic Disc Faucet

Most ceramic disc faucets don’t drip or leak because they’re made to be almost maintenance free. Two ceramic discs regulate the flow of water: a movable upper disc turns or lifts and lowers against a fixed lower ceramic disc. Though these faucets are washerless, they do have inlet and outlet seals that may leak, or sediment may build up inside the inlets and cause leaks. Be sure the faucet is in the “open” position when replacing seals. For more, see How a Ceramic Disc Faucet Works.

Disc Faucet Diagram

Disc Faucet Diagram

Ball-Style Faucet

Remove the decorative cap and screw to pull off the handle. To tighten the plastic adjusting ring inside the cap, you turn it with a special flat adjusting tool (or fit two screwdrivers into the slots and cross their blades to turn the ring.

For a spout leak, unscrew the cap, using locking-jaw pliers (wrap the jaws with duct tape to prevent scratching the faucet’s finish). Lift out the ball, and replace the rubber seats and springs on both sides of the valve.

If the faucet leaks around the spout, replace worn O-rings. For more, see How Cartridge & Ball Faucets Work.

Ball Faucet Diagram

Ball Faucet Diagram

Cartridge Faucet

Remove the decorative can and screw and pull off the handle. To release the cartridge, use a pair of pliers to pull the retainer clip straight out. Pull out the cartridge and replace the O-rings and seals to fix leaks. If the faucet drips, you may need to replace the entire cartridge. For more, see How Cartridge & Ball Faucets Work.

Cartridge Faucet Diagram

Cartridge Faucet Diagram


About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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