How to Remove Stuck Sink Handles

If you attempt to repair a leaky sink, you may find the handles stuck. Sometimes, chemical reactions, mineral deposits, and soap scum cause faucet handles to stick. This problem is often made worse by people trying to pull the handles loose. It isn't hard to remove a stuck faucet handle with some basic tools. Here are tips to remove stuck faucet handles.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you need: 

  • work gloves
  • safety goggles
  • hammer
  • spray lubricant
  • Allen wrench or locking pliers
  • flat-blade screwdriver
  • hacksaw
  • vise grips
  • faucet puller

Turn the water to the sink off. The water shut-off valve to the sink is commonly located under the sink. Rotate the valve to the right. Open the faucet to release excess water.

Check the Set Screw

Check to see if you have removed the set screw in the faucet center. Knob-style faucets commonly have faucet caps. Pry off the caps using the blade of the screwdriver, and then loosen the screw with the Phillips screwdriver.

A lever-style faucet handle has a screw in the center. Detach the screw with a wrench or locking pliers.

Don't let the screws strip from the faucet. If they start to strip, press the screwdriver blade down while you turn it. A stripped screw will need to be drilled out of the faucet.

Try the Vise Grips

If you notice corrosion, tap the faucet handle with a hammer to loosen it. Don't hit the handle too hard, or you may damage the piping. Attempt to pull the knob.or lever.

Set a hair dryer on high, and point it at the soap scum or debris. The heat should help loosen the soap scum. Let the part cool slightly, insert the vise grips on the stem, and rotate until the knob or lever pull free.

Don't use heat after you have applied spray lubricant, since it is flammable. If the knob or lever still doesn't budge, spray the lubricant behind the handle, and let the lubricant set for several minutes. Remove the handle with vise grips.

Insert a Faucet Puller

If the vise grips fail to remove the knobs, insert the middle stem of the faucet puller in the screw hole. Twist the faucet puller until the knobs have been removed. A faucet puller does not work on lever-style faucets. If nothing else works, saw off the handles.

Install a new handle. Turn on the water and test for leaks. If the handles still leak, or if you don't trust your skill, contact a plumber.