How to Replace Faucet Stems

Replace the faucet stem on a leaky faucet
Replace the faucet stem on a leaky faucet (Image: faucet image by Lynne Davis from

A leaky faucet does not always mean it is time for a new faucet, but it does mean that you should check the faucet stem. A damaged faucet stem can cause your faucet to leak constantly and send your money right down the drain with the water. So before replacing that old faucet with a new one, try replacing the faucet stem.

Things You'll Need

  • Water key
  • Rags
  • Screwdriver set
  • Allen wrench set
  • Pliers
  • Plastic container
  • Faucet stem
  • Replacement faucet screw

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Shut off the hot and cold water supply valves underneath the sink, or shut off the main water meter, usually located in the basement or near the street, using a water key. Place some rags around the base of the faucet to keep any remaining water from running onto the floor during the repair.

Remove the center cap or covering from the faucet handle by prying underneath the cap with a thin flathead screwdriver, exposing the attachment screw that holds the handle on the faucet. Remove the attachment screw using a Phillips-head screwdriver or an Allen wrench. Remove the body of the faucet from the faucet stem and set aside in a large plastic container.

Take off the locking nut located on the very bottom of the stem cartridge with a pair of pliers and place in the plastic container. Remove the screw from the top of the cartridge using a screwdriver and place in the plastic container.

Pull the stem from the faucet using a pair of pliers. Take both the stem and the screw to the hardware store so that you can find exact matches.

Line up the stem cartridge’s grooves to the faucet grooves on the body of the faucet. Put the new stem cartridge in the faucet. Screw the lock nut on the faucet and tighten it down with a pair of pliers, but do not over-tighten.

Align the body of the faucet over the stem and secure the part with the new screw you purchased at the hardware store. Replace any final parts removed at the beginning, such as the handle and decorative covers. Turn the water back on. Test the faucet by turning the water on and off, checking for leaks.


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