How To Remove A Stripped Screw From A Shower Faucet: 5 Steps


All faucets, regardless of their kind, use screws to hold them in place. This system also makes them easy to remove – all you need is a Phillips screwdriver or Allan wrench to remove the fastener and take off the shower faucet. Problems arise when that screw gets damaged and has a stripped head. How to get rid of it?

You can remove a stripped screw from the shower faucet with a screw extractor. You’ll have to drill into the center of the screw and use the extractor to get it loose. Alternatively, you could use a rubber band or remove it with pliers.

How To Remove A Stripped Screw In 5 Easy Steps

Removing a stripped faucet screw sounds more complicated than it is. In reality, you only need a handful of tools and some elbow grease.

Things You Will Need

  • Screw extractor set
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Power drill
  • Cobalt drill bit
  • Hammer

Step 1 – Choose the screw extractor

While removing a stripped screw isn’t overly complicated, even the smallest error can jeopardize your project. To successfully remove the screw, you have to use the right size screw extractor. Find out what size screw your faucet uses and buy an appropriate extractor kit.

Step 2 – Drill a hole into the screw

Use the appropriate size drill bit (cobalt drill bits are specific for metal, but any other metal bit would do) and drill a hole in the center of the screw. The hole should be about ¼ inch deep and large enough to fit the screw extractor.

Step 3 – Position the screw extractor into the drilled hole

Insert the extractor into the hole and tap it with a hammer until it gets stuck. You want the extractor to “bite” into the screw for easier removal.

Step 4 – Adjust the hole depth

If the extractor doesn’t bite into the screw and you can’t get it to a firm grip, you must adjust the hole depth by drilling further. Don’t drill more than ¼ of an inch at a time to prevent damaging the valve and pipes behind the faucet. Insert the extractor and tap with the hammer, then repeat until you get a grip.

Step 5 – Remove the stripped screw

Fit an adjustable wrench on top of your screw extractor and turn counterclockwise to get the damaged screw to turn. Apply torque until the screw comes loose, then keep turning until you unfasten it completely. If the faucet’s threads aren’t damaged, you can replace it with a new screw.

How To Remove A Stripped Allen Screw From Faucet

You can remove a stripped Allen screw from a faucet using the same screw extractor method above. Alternatively, follow the steps below.

Things You Will Need

  • Dremel tool
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Hacksaw (alternatively)

Step 1 – Cut the screw head

A stripped Allen screw is easier to remove without drilling if you manage to cut a notch into its head and turn it with a screwdriver. Start by cutting the fastener’s head with a Dremel tool. Alternatively, you could use a hacksaw, but you might find it harder to cut the head.

Step 2 – Remove the screw

Place a flathead screwdriver into the notch you just cut and start turning. You may have to use a hammer at this stage if you can’t apply enough torque by hand. Continue applying torque until the screw comes loose, then turn until you remove it.

Step 3 – Replace the screw

Inspect the faucet’s thread and replace the screw with a new one if it isn’t damaged and you want to reuse the faucet.

Removing A Stripped Set-Screw From A Bathroom Faucet Handle

You can use either of the two methods above to remove a stripped set screw. Remember that the extractor kit only works if you buy the right screw extractor size.

Stripped Screw Won’t Come Out: 4 Other Ways

In addition to the methods above, there are other ways you could remove a stripped screw from your faucet. Check them out.

Remove the Stripped Screw with a Rubber Band

If even a small portion of the stripped screw protrudes from the thread, you can try to remove it with a rubber band and flathead screwdriver.

Place the rubber band over the stripped screw and hold it firmly in place. Then, insert the screwdriver head right into the rubber. Apply pressure to ensure a grip and turn the screwdriver counterclockwise. You may have to insist, but the screw will come loose eventually.

Loosen a Rusted Screw with Heat

Fixture fasteners are subject to rust and corrosion, but a stripped screw that is also rusted can be a pain to remove. You could loosen it with heat, though.

Soak a rag with a degreaser and wipe the rusted screw. Then, heat the screw with a hairdryer or heat gun until it starts to smoke. Remove the heat immediately and soak the area with cold water. Repeat until the screw is loose enough to remove by hand.

Try Liquid Friction

Liquid friction works in the same way the rubber band does. You could use WD-40 or another type of lube – some products are even designed specifically for this purpose.

Apply a small quantity of the product and let it soak into the thread. Then, try to grip the end of the screw with a pair of pliers or a wrench and turn counterclockwise. Apply torque until the fastener comes loose.

Pull It Out with Pliers

Another method that could work if the screw is rusted and has a protruding end is pulling it out with pliers. This only works if you can grip the end of the screw, and it will damage the faucet threads, so only try it if you want to change the entire shower faucet.

How To Prevent Screws From Stripping

Dealing with stripped screws is often frustrating, so you may want to avoid the issue, to begin with. Here are a few ways to prevent screws from stripping.

Always use the right size screws

Most screws get stripped because you’re using a too large screw compared to the thread size. While you could use sheer force to fasten it, the screw head could break due to the increased force. For this reason, it is essential to use the appropriate screw size each time you replace the shower faucet screw.

Always use the right size screwdriver

Another frequent mistake is using the wrong size – or wrong type – screwdriver. Screwdrivers come in different styles and sizes for a reason, so only use the appropriate tool. If you don’t have the right screwdriver, consider buying one. This tool is inexpensive, and it can save you a lot of trouble.

Use a manual screwdriver whenever possible

Overtightening is another common cause of screw stripping. Since it is easier to overtighten the fastener when using an electric drill driver, use a manual screwdriver whenever possible.

Pay attention to the screw axis during installation

You should always align the screw axis with the hole when fastening it. If you feel resistance, the axis might not be aligned, so you should remove the screw and place it in the correct position. A misaligned axis will not only damage the screw but can also damage the faucet’s threads.

Fix leaking faucets promptly

Rust and corrosion can cause screw stripping naturally. Inspect the faucet and deal with all leaks promptly.

Frequently Asked Question

You may now know how to remove a stripped screw, but perhaps you have further questions. Let’s answer them below.

Why does my shower knob keep turning?

The shower knob keeps turning uselessly because the tiny splines have corroded or stripped from the knob, valve stem, or both. The only way to fix it is by replacing the handle.

How do you loosen a screw that won’t budge?

Liquid friction is generally the best method. Spray some liquid lubricant directly onto the screw and let it soak into the cracks. You can then try to loosen the screw with the appropriate screwdriver, a wrench, or an Allen key.

What size is the set screw on a Delta shower faucet?

Delta uses 1/4-28 screws on most of its shower faucets. These are compatible with a variety of Allen wrenches and screwdrivers.

Next Steps

Once you’ve removed the stripped screw, remember that prevention is key to avoid similar situations in the future.

Have you ever dealt with stripped shower faucet screws? How did you remove them? Tell us in a comment.

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