Is your two-handle faucet leaking? Read this before calling a plumber. We'll show you how to fix the common problem yourself.

Repairing a faucet can be tricky. After all, there are so many different issues that can cause a faucet to leak, stutter, or work poorly. Before you start any repair, make sure you understand the makeup of your individual faucet. Many newer two-handle faucets use individual cartridges or diaphragm stems. An individual cartridge is similar to a single-handle cartridge. It contains a plastic or rubber valve that opens and closes to permit or stop the flow of water. This tutorial shows you how to repair a two-handle cartridge faucet.

Fixing a leaky faucet may require replacing the cartridge or replacing O-rings and seals, depending on the manufacturer and model. A cartridge has passageways that can be opened to allow water to pass through to the spout, and companies make cartridges of various shapes and designs.

The repair should take about an hour, depending on skill. Prep for the job by shutting off the water, closing the sink stopper, and placing a rag in the sink to catch any parts.

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What You Need

  • Screwdrivers
  • Groove-joint pliers
  • Socket wrench
  • Handle puller
  • Replacement cartridge or O-rings and seals
  • Silicone grease

Step 1: Remove Handles

Shut off the water. Turn the handles on to drain out any water. The handle may be held with a top screw, or it may twist off. Wrap the handle with a cloth before twisting it with groove-joint pliers.

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Step 2: Remove Cartridge

Pull the cartridge up and out. With some types it is important to note which direction the cartridge is facing so you can reinstall it facing the same direction. You may need to use a socket wrench, pliers, or even a special pulling tool made for certain brands of stems.

Step 3: Replace Rubber Parts

If the cartridge is metal, replacing the rubber parts usually fixes the problem. Pry off the rubber seat at the bottom.

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Step 4: Open and Replace Cartridge

Twist the cartridge spindle so the valve opens. Wash out any debris. If the internal parts are worn, replace the cartridge. Replace the rubber seat and any O-rings. Rub the parts with silicone grease.

Step 5: Install Cartridge

Install the cartridge and the handle and test. If you cannot turn the water on or off, remove and reorient the cartridge.

Repairing Other Types of Faucets

Diaphragm Faucet

A diaphragm faucet has two stems similar to those in a standard stem faucet. However the stem has a neoprene cap, called a diaphragm, at the bottom instead of a washer. Usually you can simply pry off the diaphragm and slip on a new one. If that does not fix a leak, replace the stem or the faucet.

Two-Handle Disk Faucet

A two-handle disk faucet uses disk assemblies similar to those in a single-handle disk faucet and has springs similar to those in a ball faucet.

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