Is there anything more annoying than a loose kitchen faucet handle that drips? Sure, you can still wash the dishes and vegetables, but nothing takes away the fact that dealing with a wobbly fixture is frustrating. Solving the issue is generally easy, but how exactly you should do that can change from brand to brand. From all, Moen is perhaps the most popular. So, how to fix a loose handle on your Moen kitchen faucet?
To fix a Moen kitchen faucet that is loose, simply lift the handle and tighten the hex nut with an Allen wrench. If it still droops, check the stem and make sure it’s free of sediment deposits and corrosion. A broken handle or stem must be replaced.
Why Does My Moen Kitchen Faucet Handle Keep Coming Loose?
Fixing a loose handle is an easy job, but before getting started, you should understand why the part keeps dropping over and over again. There are several reasons, each cause requiring a different fix.
Loose Set Screw
The kitchen sink is one of the most used fixtures in a home, so it’s easy to understand that the faucet handle can come loose now and then. This is the easiest thing to fix, though, as you’ll only have to lift the handle and tighten the hex nut under it.
Worn-Out Mount Hole
Another common reason why the handle droops and keeps coming loose no matter how frequently you fasten it is a worn-out mount hole.
The mounting hole is a small opening at the bottom of the faucet through which the handle connects to the faucet stem. You’ll unlikely have any trouble with this hole on a new faucet, but it can expand or break over time.
If this happens, the fastener will no longer fit flush with the stem, causing the handle to drop as gravity pulls it downward.
Worn-Out Cartridge Stem
The cartridge stem is a rod that connects to the handle through the mounting hole mentioned above. This rod can break or become loose, causing the handle to drop. A worn-out cartridge stem has similar symptoms to a worn-out mount hole, but the way to fix it is different.
Broken Faucet Levers
Lastly, your Moen faucet handle could be loose because it’s broken. This can happen if the faucet is old and corroded or if you apply too much force when turning the faucet on and off. A broken handle is impossible to repair, so you’ll have to replace the entire faucet.
Things You Will Need To Repair A Loose Faucet Handle
Repairing a loose faucet handle isn’t hard, as long as you have all tools and materials at hand. Here’s a list of things you’ll need.
- Adjustable wrench
- 3/32-inch or 7/64-inch Allen wrench
- Basin wrench
- Putty knife
- Rubber gloves
How To Tighten A Loose Moen Single Handle Kitchen Faucet
While a loose faucet handle can get on your nerves, the entire kitchen sink faucet can also come loose from the base. Follow the steps below to tighten the faucet base or the faucet handle, depending on what problem you have.
Tightening Moen Kitchen Faucet Base
Step 1 – Turn off the water and cover the sink’s drain
When working on any faucet, it is a good idea to turn off the water to prevent accidents. You can either shut off the water from the main valve or use the shut-off valve located under the kitchen sink – the latter gives you the possibility to use water in other areas of your home.
Put on the headlamp and peer under the sink. Locate the valve and turn it counterclockwise to tighten it. If your sink has separate valves for the cold and hot water, turn them both off.
After you’ve turned off the valves, open the faucet to let all water in it drain, then cover the sink drain with a stopper to prevent losing smaller pieces as you’re working on your faucet.
Step 2 – Remove the tailpipe (if needed)
To tighten the faucet’s base, you have to access a nut located at the back of the sink. This nut must be accessed from underneath, and the drain pipe could be in your way.
More often than not, you’ll have to use a basin wrench to access and tighten this nut. Use the tool and see if you can maneuver it without removing the drain pipe. If you can’t, remove the drain pipe by unfastening the ring nut holding it in place.
Use a pair of pliers or an adjustable wrench for the job; simply turn the nut clockwise until it comes loose, then place the pipe in a bucket. If you still don’t have enough room to work properly, unfasten the connection with the P-trap in the same way and move the pipe out of the way.
Step 3 – Tighten the faucet base
Place the faucet straight into its hole, aligning it vertically, then ask a helper to hold it in position. Go under the sink and use the basin wrench to grip the nut.
Turn counterclockwise to tighten it. You can turn liberally until you feel some resistance, then continue turning a quarter-turn at a time until the faucet is firm (ask your helper to let go of the faucet after each quarter-turn and check the stability to decide whether you should keep tightening or not).
Do not overtighten the nut because you could damage the faucet or the screw holding it in place. If this happens, you’ll be left with no choice but to replace the faucet.
Step 4 – Install the drain pipe
Put the drain pipe back in its place and fasten it by turning each nut counterclockwise. Turn until each nut is fastened but not overtightened, using the same technique you used to fasten the faucet base.
Step 5 – Turn on the water and check for leaks
A faucet that is loose from the base often leaks, and the drain could also start leaking if you haven’t installed it correctly. Turn on the shut-off valves under the sink and let the water run for a few minutes.
Use a paper towel to pat the area around and under the faucet, as well as all drain pipe joints. While you may not be able to notice a leak yourself, even a few drops of water will soak into the paper. If anything is leaking, unfasten the connections and tighten them again.
Tightening Moen Kitchen Faucet Handle
Step 1 – Turn off the water and cover the drain
Working on the faucet handle requires the same prep work as working on its base. Go under the sink and turn off the shut-off valves, then open the faucet to let out any built-in pressure and residual water. Then, cover the sink drain with a stopper.
Step 2 – Locate the set screw
All Moen faucet handles are held in place by a set screw located under a decorative plate. Use a utility knife to remove the cap and access the screw.
Step 3 – Tighten the screw
Almost all Moen faucets use hex nuts to fasten the handle’s set screw. While the size of the nut might vary from one faucet to another, most people will find that they can tighten it using a 3/32-inch Allen wrench (most other faucets from the brand require a 7/64-inch Allen wrench).
Position the wrench inside the hex nut and turn it counterclockwise to tighten it. Depending on how loose the handle is, you can tighten liberally or go slowly (a quarter-turn at a time) until the handle stops drooping.
As mentioned above, you shouldn’t overtighten this nut because it could lead to irremediable damage. However, if the handle still seems loose no matter how much you tightened the nut, it could be that the stem is damaged, and you have to replace the faucet.
Step 4 – Replace the decorative cap
Once the nut is tight and the handle doesn’t feel wobbly anymore, you can replace the decorative cap by pressing it in its slot. You’ll feel a popping sound when it gets back in place.
Step 5 – Turn on the water and check for leaks
Just like a loose base, a loose handle often causes leaks. Open the shut-off valves under the sink and run the water for a few minutes. Inspect the faucet, especially the area around the handle. Even if you can’t notice a leak, it is a good practice to test the area with a paper towel.
If the faucet still leaks despite the handle feeling tight, the stem could be broken, and you should replace the faucet.
Tightening a loose Moen faucet handle isn’t hard, and anyone can do it. However, you may still have questions before getting down to business. Check out the answers below.
What size Allen wrench fits a Moen kitchen faucet handle?
It depends on the faucet type you have. Moen faucets with handles you can remove by loosening a screw at the back of the handle require a 3/32-inch Allen wrench. The other faucet types have a 7/64-inch hex nut, which requires a same-size Allen wrench.
Is there a difference between hex and Allen?
There is no difference between a hex key and an Allen wrench. The terms are used interchangeably to refer to the same tool.
A hex key – or Allen wrench – is a small L- or S-shaped tool with a hexagonal socket. The key usually has a hex socket at each end, allowing you to reach fasteners in tighter or awkward spots. You can simply hold the tool from the shorter or longer side, based on the application.
Allen wrenches are available in multiple sizes and serve numerous purposes, from repairing electronics to plumbing applications.
A loose kitchen faucet handle can leak and make it a pain to use the kitchen sink. Luckily, the problem is often a cinch to fix. All you have to do is locate the set screw under the red/blue cap and tighten it. Hopefully, you now know how to do it and how to fasten the faucet’s base as well.
What kind of Moen faucet do you have? Have you ever tightened its handle before? Let us know in a comment.