Quick Fix: When the Lever on the Faucet Breaks

It was late one chilly winter evening as I stepped into the bathtub, planning on a long, hot bath — but not so fast! When I tried to turn on the water, the handle on the faucet turned and turned but nothing happened. Ugh! Why do these things always happen at the end of the day?

After swearing at the bathtub for a little while, I decided I needed to at least find a way to take a bath right now. I popped the handle off the faucet and discovered the problem – the little grippy teeth on the handle, which is what controls the water flow, had broken. I quickly surmised that a vice grip would work as a handle in the meantime.

Using a vice grip to turn on the water was fine in the interim but with guests arriving in a few days I knew this problem had to be solved. As it turns out, replacing the handle on this faucet was relatively easy. I took the old handle with me to the hardware store assuming I would just match it to a replacement. That's when I discovered that there were two options for a replacement – the same kind of plastic handle, which would probably break over time just as the old one had, or a handle with metal components. The metal handle not only seemed like it would last longer — it's also more attractive.

Installing the replacement handle was quite easy. It was merely a matter of following the directions on the back of the package. Basically, an adapter slides over the valve stem and is held in place by a screw. Then the new handle is placed over the adapter and is held in place with an Allen screw. Voila! A working faucet handle!

Images: Jason Loper

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