How to Remove the Stem From a Bathtub Faucet

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Many bathtub faucets use a cartridge system, a single component that controls the flow of water through the faucet through an adjustable stem. When the handle on the stem is moved, the water turns on or off. If the stem is damaged, it requires replacement for your faucet to operate correctly, which necessitates the removal of the stem from the faucet housing. Removing the stem can be done using a few common household tools and does not require that you have any previous plumbing experience.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Hex screwdriver set
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Locate the shutoff valve for the bathtub, and turn off the water source to the bathtub faucet. Access to the shutoff valve is typically through an access panel located near the bathtub, usually on the other side of the wall holding the faucet or in a floor or ceiling near the bathtub. If no local access is located, then shut the water down centrally from your main water valve.

  • Turn on the faucet to remove any water still contained by the bathtub plumbing. After a brief spurt of water due to the pressure in the pipes, the flow should cease.

  • Remove the decorative cap placed on the faucet either by popping the cap off with a flat-headed screwdriver or by removing the securing screw located on the cap.

  • Remove the screw beneath the cap holding the faucet head in place and then lift the head from the faucet stem.

  • Check the stem for a retaining clip placed across the body of the stem to hold it in place or for a packing nut holding the stem centered in the faucet housing. Remove the clip using the screwdriver to pry it away from the stem body or the nut using the wrench to loosen it in place and pull it out.

  • Fasten an adjustable wrench onto the body of the stem and unthread the stem from the faucet body. Pull the stem free from the faucet housing once you reach the end of the thread.

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