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Thread: How to remove bathtub faucet handles?

  1. #1

    Default How to remove bathtub faucet handles?

    My bathtub has three handles (Hot, Shower, Cold). I have to turn them hard to make sure that it does not drip. It is becoming more difficult for me to turn off the water. I was hoping that if I removed them, all they'd need is a cleaning. I unscrewed the cold handle, so far, but couldn't remove it. Please help!
    Last edited by miranda12; 12-17-2006 at 10:17 PM.

  2. #2


    You need to replace the bib washers--the rubber washers located on the bottom of the hot and cold stems. Once you do that, you won't have to turn your handles so much to shut off the water.

    1. Shut off the water supply to the tub.
    2. Remove the handles. If they don't come off easily, you need to buy a handle puller from the hardware store.
    3. Remove the sleeves and escutcheons surrounding the stems.
    4. Using plumbing sockets, remove the stems.
    5. Replace the bib washers.
    6. Put everything back together.
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    Last edited by Verdeboy; 10-17-2006 at 06:55 PM.

  3. #3
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of the brave....
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    Talking Good Old Wd- 40

    Might I suggest a healthy dose of wd-40

    on those old handles first....??

    if you dont you will probably break the stems off in the handles

    spray it down and wait an hour then gently tap, tap,tap

    if free from the brass stem....

    I havent seen one of those handle pullers in a long time...

    they never did me much good,

  4. #4
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Nov 2005


    I have a trick that works fairly well. I take my torch and slowly heat the handels up. They will reach a point where the crud will let go and they come off easily. You do have to do it slowly though. I concentrate the flame right at the screw area of the handle so the heat will be at the problem area.

  5. #5

    Question I need more help!

    I haven't gotten around to taking off the handles yet, but plan to try this week. The problem of shutting off the water is becoming more prominent. Could anyone let me know what the "bib washers--the rubber washers located on the bottom of the hot and cold stems" look like, or will I just know when I see them? Also, not to sound dumb, when I go to try to pull off the handles (I will put some wd-40 on them) will they pull straight out, or will I have to twist them. The last time I tried to pull them off, they were quite stuck and it felt like, if I pulled any harder, that I was going to destroy the pipes. Should the handles just slide right off? This is the first time I ever attempted to take off handles and am not sure what to expect. I am usually up for a new challenge, though. Any help would be useful! Oh Yeah, I am sorry, but I currently do not own a torch. Even though that sounds like a neat way to try to remove the handles, I don't trust myself with firepower!
    Last edited by miranda12; 12-17-2006 at 10:38 PM.

  6. #6
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Nov 2005


    Depending on how long ago it was that you pulled them off last will determine how hard it will be. When you put them back on put 1 layer of teflon tape over the top of the spline B4 you put the handles back on. If you have to remove them again they will pop right off.

    Personally I like PB Blaster way better than WD 40. You can get it at Low*s. WD 40 displaces water, PB breaks the oxidation / corrosion between the metals, it is a true penetrant.

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member TedL's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    NY Capital District


    PB blaster is the best. Also available in the auto section at W_Mart or most auto parts places if L's is not nearby.

  8. #8


    I'll also vouch for PB blaster... use it alot when working on cars. As for the faucet handles. If you've never taken one off before...it's really not difficult. Usually a little back and forth wiggle with loosen the crud and they slide off the spline with little difficulty. Everyone has their own technique and with experience all of us develop our own preferences. I would use Cass's method only as a last resort... but then...he may not like my method of prying them off... to each his own. If you're having difficulty getting the screw loose that holds the handle on it usually helps (using a decent quality screw driver) to apply a little turrning pressure while pressing the screwdriver into the screw head and give it a little whack or two with a hammer... unless you really get irritated ...then you use an impact driver...try very hard not to strip the head of the screw.
    Last edited by Randyj; 12-18-2006 at 04:31 PM.

  9. #9
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    Aug 2005


    Pullers work really well..

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