How to Lubricate Single Handle Faucets

Written by kenneth crawford
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When your faucet spout becomes difficult to turn side to side on your kitchen faucet, it is usually due to dry seals. Faucets that have small leaks or make squeaking sounds when you operate them, sometimes only need a bit of lubrication. Lubricating single handle faucets depends on what type of faucet you own. Cartridge, ceramic disc and ball-type faucets each have their own set of rubber seals. The best way to lubricate them is with regular petroleum jelly.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Hex wrench
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Slip joint pliers
  • Petroleum jelly

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    Disassemble Faucet

  1. 1

    Go under the sink and turn off the water supply to the faucet. There is a shut off valve for the cold and hot water. Turn each valve handle clockwise with your fingers.

  2. 2

    Find the screw securing the single handle to the faucet. Most screws are on the back or under the curve of the handle. Others are under the decorative cap on the top of the handle. Pop the decorative cap off with a flathead screwdriver. Remove the set screw with either a hex wrench or Phillips-head screwdriver.

  3. 3

    Pull the handle off the faucet. Turn the cap between the faucet and the handle counterclockwise with your fingers and remove it from the faucet. Some faucets have a handle adaptor on top of the cartridge. Remove the screw securing the adaptor with the Phillips-head screwdriver and pull off the adaptor.

  4. 4

    Turn the packing nut or cam that surrounds the cartridge or ball stem counterclockwise with a pair of slip joint pliers. If you have a cartridge faucet, look for the c-clip securing the cartridge to the faucet. Remove the c-clip with a pair of needle nose pliers.

  5. 5

    Grasp the top of the cartridge with a pair of pliers and pull it straight out of the faucet, if you have a cartridge faucet. Grab the stem of the ball and pull it straight out, if you have a ball faucet. Remove the screws securing the ceramic disc faucet, if you have the flat disc type faucet.

  6. 6

    Grab the faucet spout by the neck with your hands. Pull straight up on the spout and remove it from the faucet body.

    Lubricate and Reassemble

  1. 1

    Dip your fingertip into a jar of petroleum jelly. Inspect the o-rings around the faucet neck where the spout surrounds. If the o-rings are cracked, replace them. Rub a light film of petroleum jelly over the o-rings with your finger.

  2. 2

    Inspect the o-rings and rubber seals on faucet cartridges and the spring seats of ball-type faucets. Replace any seals that have cracks or damage. Lubricate each seal with a light film of petroleum jelly on your fingertip.

  3. 3

    Place the spout over the faucet neck and press it down until the bottom of the spout neck makes contact with the base of the faucet.

  4. 4

    Reassemble the faucet in the exact reverse order that it was disassembled. Ensure that all screws are tight before assembling the next piece to the faucet.

  5. 5

    Lift the handle to the on position. Slowly turn on the faucet water supply at the shut-off valves below the sink. Leaving the faucet in the on position helps to dispel the air from the faucet as the water comes back on. This helps to prevent surges that could break ceramic discs or seals. Turn off the faucet handle.

Tips and warnings

  • If necessary, purchase a cartridge puller for cartridges that are difficult to remove.
  • Replacement o-rings are available at hardware stores.

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