A ball-type kitchen faucet is different from a conventional faucet in that its handle pivots over top of a ball bearing rather than taking the form of a knob or lever. The ball allows 180 – 360 degrees of motion. Changing a washer on such a faucet is a little bit difficult, and in some situations you may end up having to buy a new faucet.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Before you start, make sure you have all of these materials and tools
- Allen Wrench
- Cordless Driver/Drill
- Set of Drill Bits
- Slip Joint Pliers
- Repair Kit for Ball Type Faucets
- Lubricating or Penetrating Oil
Be Careful With the Allen Screw
The hardest part of this repair job happens right at the beginning. The handle is held in place with an Allen screw right at the top of the ball. This screw has a tendency to shrink or corrode over time, which makes it hard to pry open.
If this Allen screw is stuck in place, don’t force it. It’s not going to budge until you lubricate it. You need to do this in order to reach the flat head underneath the handle and use the pliers to grip it. All the other surfaces are too rounded to grasp hold of easily with the pliers.
Remove the Handle and Components
Sometimes the Allen screw is so stuck that it won’t move at all. In this case, you can either buy a new faucet or break off the handle at the ball bearing and try to replace the handle part. But before you give up on the screw, try spraying the top of the screw with penetrating oil and allow it to sit for several hours. If it still doesn’t move, try spraying oil on it daily for 7 days in a row. If you can get that Allen screw out of there it’s relatively easy to take off the rest of the handle parts and change the worn-out rubber seals below.
If the penetrating oil doesn’t do the trick, the next thing you can do is try to take out the screw using a drill. Find a drill bit that’s the same size as the screw. Work carefully or you can easily damage the handle beyond repair. It’s not easy to buy a separate handle part, and it’s expensive too. If all else fails, simply use the pliers remove the still-attached handle and unscrew the cap. It’s best to cover the jaws of the pliers with electrical tape first so that you don’t scratch the faucet surface.
Turn the handle cover in a counter clockwise direction to unscrew and remove it. The whole mechanism including handle, cam, ball and cap should come off in one piece. The next step is to break off the ball from the stem that holds it in place. This way you’ll be able to salvage the cap and reuse it, but you’ll still need to go out and buy a handle and repair kit.
And if none of these strategies work, you’re out of options – time to go shopping for a new faucet!