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Thread: screw broke off in faucet handle

  1. #1

    Default screw broke off in faucet handle

    Well, let me start by saying I am not "plumbing" inclined. At all, so for any answers, please know I need "laywomans" terms... The faucet handles (shower) in the new house I've moved into were REALLY dirty, so I decided to remove them to clean 'em up. The cold one and the middle one came off great. The hot one was taking some work to unscrew the screw behind the "hot" plastic cover. It was about 1/2 way out when it broke off flush against the thing it goes into. What in the world do you do besides call a plumber? I'm a little fixated on it now and am determined to get it done without.....1. calling a plumber and 2. flooding my bathroom. Anyone with much patience out there to let me know what to do next?

  2. #2
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Nitabee, I'm usually inclined to tell folks to call a plumber, but, if you can get your hands on a drill, some small metal drill bits and an easy-out...I'll be happy to explain it.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

  3. #3

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    Awww, you don't seem "grumpy" to me at all! I have a drill, I have small bits. I'm hoping I can get an "easy out" at my nearest home improvement store? If so, I will do it tomorrow. I'm all ears unless you want to call and walk me through it, which would probably try your patience Thanks so much for helping this gal out.

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    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Geesh, I figured you'd have given up!
    Fine...I made a promise...here goes (grumpily):
    you got most of what you need...grab the smallest bit...bore a hole as close to center in the nub that broke off....when you get the Easy Out make sure you get the smallest set (the screw is probably around 1/8" wide to 1/4" )...you'll understand when you see it.
    Easy-Out is basically a tapered screw with a "right handed thread"...in other words when you turn it to the left it actually tightens into the small hole you drilled (almost all threads are "left handed"), when you turn the Easy Out to the left...the tapered thread will dig into the nub, and loosen the screw as you turn.
    You may have to start small with the hole size...if it's too small for the Easy Out to catch...then move up to a slightly larger bit, DON'T over-size the hole (you'll have nothing for the Easy-Out to grab)...too little is better than too much...until it's the right size.
    (IF you aren't able to get it out...last resort = plumber replaces the stem).
    Also...you might consider a single handle "Anti-scald" shower valve at a later date...especially if you have lil' ones. (2 handles are against code in most states...small child could turn on the hot)
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks so much. I think I'll be able to get it out. I KNOW that this will concern you until I get it done, hopefully you won't lose any sleep. I know it's a petty problem for you master plumbers and I truly appreciate your response. The anti-scald valve is a great idea, the good news is, my youngest, who is 5 will take cold baths as long as she can bathe Dora and all of her pet rolly pollies with her. Next call will have to be roto-rooter, I'm sure. Thanks again! Nita

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default ???

    Easy-Out is basically a tapered screw with a "right handed thread"...in other words when you turn it to the left it actually tightens into the small hole you drilled (almost all threads are "left handed"),

    All the A-Z outs I have ever seen were left hand threads, and I have seen very few left hand screws or bolts, other than the left hand lugs of one of my first Ford trucks.

  7. #7
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Just think of me as a dyslexic grumpy plumber.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

  8. #8

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    All I really know is loosey lefty, tighty righty. So, left or right hand threads makes no sense to me. I figure, I'll take my broken screw, because I have to replace that..... and tell the smart fellas in blue at my local "home improvement store" what I'm told I need. BTW, no worries about me replacing a hot water heater or anything difficult, but this is a great forum and really informative...... I've learned lots today by just reading around it. All is good. Thanks guys.... or gals (you never know...) Nita B

  9. #9
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    type A Z out in your web browser, then type Easy Out.
    Left, right...ok, ya got me on dat one.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

  10. #10

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    Another name for "easy out" is a "screw extractor", which you can get at most hardware stores. They often come with the drill bit and the extractor together, as a set.

    If that doesn't work, you (or a plumber) will have to shut off the water to the shower and, using a channel locks, simply break off the handle from the stem. Then replace both the handle and the stem.

  11. #11
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    If the screw's broken... no head on the screw. I'd imagine the handle can be just pulled off, assuming it isn't off already?

  12. #12

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    Thanks much. You've all been a great help! I have small bits, but purchasing them together would probably be best for me, since I've never tried this. Thanks to "grumpy", I'm on my way to being a DIY'er!! Just kidding, GP. Promise. This one I am just determined to do myself. My ex is an ex-plumber and I refuse to call him! Thanks!

  13. #13

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    The handle came off fine. It's clean and ready to be put back on, but I can't put it back on, because the screw is broken....

  14. #14
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Personally I don't think you will be able to get the stem screw out.

    The stem is to small for an easy out to work but I may be wrong.

    I suggest you remove the trim around the stem and the trim on the wall then remove the stem and replace the whole stem.

    You will need a set of stem sockets and a place you can go to that has a wide variety of stems. You need to locate the store that sells the stems first. Usually a plumbing supply house. If you call and they don't carry stems just ask who has a good variety.

    Don't forget to turn off the water and relieving the pressure B 4 removing the stem.

    Can you post a pic.

    If this seems to much you will have to call a plumber and if you do ask if they carry parts, for 3 handle valves, on their truck.
    Last edited by Cass; 06-25-2007 at 04:46 AM.

  15. #15
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default screw

    You can either replace the stem, or take a fine hacksaw and carefully make a cut around the stem about 1/4" from the end. Then unscrew that piece from the screw. Either the screw will come out with it, or you will be able to grab the screw end with pliers and remove it. Most stems are not worth the bother of extracting the screw unless it is an unusual one that is hard to replace.

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