How to Fix a Loose Kitchen Faucet Handle

Updated February 21, 2017

The handles on kitchen faucets are held in place with simple screws and bolts. A loose handle indicates that the retaining bolt needs to be tightened. The two main types of handles are the standard, which is one handle each for hot and cold separate from the faucet, and a faucet and handle combination. A loose handle on either set-up is simple to repair with basic tools. Repairing the faucet handle gives you an opportunity to inspect the faucet for potential problems related to leaks.

Remove any plastic caps from the top of the handle. The plastic caps pop out with a little pressure from a small, flathead screwdriver.

Remove the faucet handle. On standard faucets and cartridge faucets, the handle is held down with a retaining screw. A Phillips head screwdriver removes the screw holding those types in place. On disc or rotating ball faucets, the handle is kept in place with a screw-in bolt. Remove the bolt using an Allen wrench to twist the bolt counterclockwise. Lift the handle off of the faucet after removing the retaining bolt or screw.

Tighten the retaining nut, packing nut, adjusting ring, or retaining screw. Standard faucets use a packing nut with two flat sides that can be tightened with an adjustable wrench. Disc faucets are identified by the retaining screws holding the actual valve assembly in place. Tighten the screw down with a screwdriver. Tighten a rotating ball faucet, which has a grooved ring just beneath the handle, by rotating the grooved ring clockwise. Cartridge faucets hold the valve assembly in place with a round, smooth, packing nut. Lift the faucet straight up off of the neck after removing the handle to locate the packing nut. Rotate the packing nut clockwise with an adjustable wrench.

Reinstall the faucet, if removed, and the handle in the reverse of removal.


Always inspect the valve assembly when you have the faucet handles disassembled. Broken rubber O-rings or washers will lead to leaks in the handle or faucet. Take the valve assembly to any hardware store to properly identify replacement parts.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Allen wrench
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