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How to Replace a Shower Handle (and the Different Types Available)

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Don’t waste money calling in the pros; replace that shower handle yourself.

Knowing how to remove a shower handle helps you maintain your shower and keeps it in working order. However, shower handle replacement depends on the type of shower handle you have.

Luckily, we have the definitive guide on how to replace a shower handle and offer hints and tips on removing a stuck handle.


How to Remove Different Types of Shower Handles

There are several types of shower handles, some with no visible screws and others without screws. Let’s take a look at your options:

Lever Handles

Human Hand switches a Shower faucet cold and hot water in the bathroom

Lever handles consist of a bar handle attached to a pivot. The screws are typically concealed beneath a cover plate, so you must remove it to get access.

Pop off the faceplate and loosen the screws to remove the handle. It is one of the easiest to remove and the most common handle in US showers.

Knob Handles

Front view of bathtub and water taps

Whether it’s a globe, jeweled, or square, knob handles look like door handles. They are easy to use and look classy.

Twist them clockwise, and you get running water. Counterclockwise turns the faucet off.

They come in screw and screwless models with locking pins. You will only know which you have once you examine it more closely.

Screw models have a cover plate on the top of the handle. Simply remove that to expose the screw.

Screwless models have an Allen bolt concealed in the side beneath the handle. You will need a hex or Allen key to remove the bolt, and the handle comes off.

Cross Handles

shower knobs

Cross handle faucets are a hark back to the olden days, invoking a vintage style. The front of the shower handle has a cover plate (typically labeled hot and cold). Pop off the plate with a flathead screwdriver to reveal the screw beneath.

Remove the screw, and the handle comes off. This type of handle is becoming increasingly popular with people designing spaces with a nod to the past.

Double Faucet Handles

hand turn faucet in bathroom

Double faucet handles consist of two handles, with one controlling the hot and the other the cold. Typically, they have two cross handles or knobs at each end. Remove the cap plate to expose the set screws beneath.

Use a crosshead screwdriver and remove the screws, and the handles come away. If you have a screwless double faucet handle, locate the hex bolt beneath the handle on the stem. Use an Allen key to remove the bolt, and the head comes free.

Single Handles

Dirty calcified shower mixer tap, faucet with limescale on it, close up

Single handles twist both left and right to control the hot and cold function. The screw is located on the stem beneath the pivoting faucet head. Remove the screw using a flathead or crosshead screwdriver (depending on your model), and the handle lifts off.

Delta Shower Handles

Product Image of the Delta Faucet Foundations Shower Valve Trim Kit, Shower Handle, Delta Shower Trim Kit, Chrome BT13010 (Valve Not Included)

Locate the small rubber plug just under the handle curve. Pull it out with your fingers to reveal the small hex screw beneath. Use an Allen key to loosen the nut, and the handle comes away from the stem.

If you struggle to free the rubber plug, use long-nose pliers. Ensure that you have a safe place to store the plug while removing the handle.

How to Remove a Handle With No Visible Screws

So, the time has come to remove that faulty shower handle. Before we get down to the details, what tools will you need to complete the task successfully?

What You’ll Need

1. Isolate the Water Supply

Turn off the water at the isolation switch near the shower, or the mains valve entering the house. You will need a flathead screwdriver or you can simply turn the handle to switch off the water supply.

2. Remove the Faceplate

Spray some WD-40 on the faceplate and then use an adjustable wrench to twist it off. Some faceplates have a raised lip that allows you to wedge a flathead screwdriver to pop it off.

3. Clean Inside

While the faceplate is removed, use white vinegar to clean out the grime. You will also spot the manufacturer’s nameplate inside the recess. This is crucial if you want to replace like-for-like because it isn’t always obvious.

The hidden screws are located inside this section of your faucet handle. You may also want to spray a lubricant inside to loosen the screw, making it easier to remove.

4. Loosen the Screw

Depending on the type of faucet handle you have, use the screwdriver or Allen wrench to loosen the concealed screw and remove it. Place it in a safe place because they are easy to lose.

Keep In Mind

Some faucet handles don’t have a cover plate. The hex screw is located under the handle on the stem.

5. Remove the Handle

Gently wiggle the handle free from the stem. It may take some time as grime and debris build-up can stick the handle to the fixture. Use more WD-40 if needed, and eventually, the handle will come free.

Why Is My Shower Handle Stuck?

Your shower handle is probably gunked up. Showers are exposed to constant water and mineral deposits. When the water dries, it forms a white residue.

Over time, it hardens in a process called scaling. This is why your shower handle gets stuck.

It’s simple enough to remedy. You need some white vinegar and water in a spray bottle to dissolve the grime. You can also use cleaning detergent like this Lime-a-Way Bathroom Cleaner.

How to Remove a Stuck Shower Handle

So, you’ve followed the steps to the letter, and your shower or tub handle won’t budge. You will need a special tool called a faucet handle puller. How do you use it? Let’s find out.

What You’ll Need

  • Faucet handle puller.
  • Flathead screwdriver.
  • Phillips screwdriver.
  1. Locate the cover plate on the top of the faucet.
  2. Use the flathead screwdriver to lever off the cover to expose the screw anchoring the faucet.
  3. Remove the screw using the screwdriver (Phillips or flathead, depending on the screw).
  4. Place the handle puller over the faucet handle.
  5. Wind the faucet puller like a corkscrew. The bolt will descend into the empty shaft of the handle and tighten the two grips at the base of the handle.
  6. Gently pull the faucet tool, and the handle will come free.

Take Note

Double check that your faucet handle is compatible with the handle puller. Brands like Moen may require a specific type of handle puller.

How to Replace a Shower Handle

Installing a shower faucet.

Once you’ve successfully removed your old shower handle, you’ll need to fit the new one. It is a simple process because you reverse the procedure you used to remove it.

As you’ve already turned the water off to remove the old handle, you are safe to install the new one. You may need to remove the escutcheon plate (the cover plate concealing the hole) to reveal the cartridge inside. The easiest method is to replace like-for-like.

With the stem exposed, slide the new faucet handle in place. Tighten the Allen screw on the side of the handle to hold it in situ. If your model has a screw through the top of the handle, tighten it and clip the cover plate back on.

Turn on the water to check for drips and leaks. If all is good, turn the handle to confirm it operates as it should.

How to Replace a Shower Handle Escutcheon Plate

The escutcheon plate serves to cover the unsightly hole in the shower wall. It is held in place by two screws. Use a flathead or Phillips screwdriver to remove them, depending on the type.

If the plate is caulked to the shower wall, you will need to use a utility knife to score the caulk to remove the escutcheon. Slide the new escutcheon plate so that the screw holes align. Tighten the screws with the screwdriver.

Push the new faucet handle onto the stem and twist it left and right to ensure the mechanism is engaged. Tighten the screw using either the Allen wrench or the screwdriver, and pop the cover plate back on (if needed).

Turn on the water and check for leaks and drips.


Get a Handle on the Situation

Knowing how to take off a shower handle is vital if you want your appliances to stay in good working order. Shower fixtures fail from time to time, and rather than wasting a packet on calling a pro, why not fix it yourself?

Not only will you feel like you’ve conquered Everest, but your family will also shower you with praise as their conquering hero. What’s not to love about that?

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.