How To Tell If a Faucet Cartridge Is Bad?

Are you tired of dealing with a leaky faucet that won’t stop dripping? It’s likely that the problem lies with the faucet’s cartridge. Due to a bad cartridge, a faucet won’t be able to perform properly. The cartridge is inside the faucet body so how would you find out if the cartridge is bad or not?

A faucet cartridge is a small but essential part of the faucet. It is the main part that controls the flow of water and the temperature level in the faucet. In this article, you will find out how you can check the condition of the cartridge. Also, you will learn how to replace the damaged cartridge of the faucet.

Why Do Faucet Cartridges Go Bad?

How To Tell If a Faucet Cartridge Is Bad

The most common reason for a bad faucet cartridge is wear and tear. As you turn the handle, the cartridge experiences friction. Due to the friction, the cartridge wears down over time. With a damaged seal, the cartridge won’t work properly and water starts leaking from it.

Another reason for a damaged cartridge is mineral buildup due to hard water. Magnesium and calcium minerals of the hard water create buildups on the cartridge block its movement and also cause it to malfunction.

Another factor contributing to a damaged cartridge is rust. Rust formation damaged the cartridge and created cracks in it. As the cartridge ages, the plastic part becomes increasingly brittle.

How To Tell If a Faucet Cartridge Is Bad?

For many people, it is difficult to find out whether a cartridge is bad or not. It happens because the cartridge is located inside the faucet and not visible from the outside. So without seeing the cartridge, it is difficult to tell its condition. But here are a few common signs that indicate a bad condition of the cartridge in the faucet.

Leaking Faucet

leaky faucet

A leaky faucet is the most common sign of a bad cartridge. When the cartridge is damaged and worn out, it won’t be able to tighten the kitchen tap and water starts leaking from the faucet.

Due to the bad cartridge, you would see leaks in the faucet from various spots such as the faucet spout, base, and faucet handle.

There would be a steady drip or stream of water at the water leak point. Due to the damaged cartridge, a leak may occur even if your faucet handle is off.


Difficulty In Turning The Handle

A cartridge is located inside the faucet handle. So, when the cartridge is not in good condition, it restricts the handle movement. Either it will make the faucet handle loosen or sticky and you won’t be able to turn the handle properly. So the handle won’t be able to stay in a fixed position.

The improper handle movement due to a bad cartridge will also cause difficulty in controlling the cold and hot water flow or temperature of the water. Due to restrictions in the handle movement, water temperature will fluctuate and you will be unable to achieve the desired water temperature.

Low or High Water Pressure

Another sign that the bad cartridge is inaccurate water pressure from the faucet. Due to the bad cartridge, the water pressure will decrease or increase.


The bad or damaged cartridge will create a gap where it is located. Due to the gap, the water flow won’t be accurate. Water flow becomes inconsistent and sometimes it becomes strong pressure and sometimes low pressure.

Unusual Noise

Due to a bad or clogged cartridge, you will hear an unusual noise when you turn the handle. It sounds like squeaking or grinding. It will happen because the metal parts inside the faucet handle are rubbing against each other.

How To Replace a Bad Cartridge of The Faucet?

How To Replace a Bad Cartridge of The Faucet?

Now you know the signs of a bad cartridge. If your faucet has any above signs of a bad cartridge, you should replace the cartridge for the smooth functioning of the faucet. Here are the steps you should follow to replace the cartridge.

  • Turn off the water supply to the faucet. Open the faucet to drain the water from the pipes.
  • To access the cartridge, you’ll need to remove the handle.
  • If the screw on the handle is visible, remove it. If the screw is not visible, remove the cap to see the screw on the handle.
  • After removing the screw, gently pull the handle away from the faucet body and set it aside.
  • Now locate the cartridge inside the faucet. You will find it near the base.
  • To remove the cartridge, you need to remove its retaining nut. Use pliers or a wrench to loosen the nut.
  • Once the nut is loose, carefully pull the cartridge straight out of the faucet body.
  • Take the new cartridge and insert it into the faucet body. Make sure the cartridge is properly aligned.
  • Now tighten the retaining nut to secure the cartridge in its place.
  • Reattach the handle and tighten its screw.

How Does a Faucet Cartridge Work?

faucet cartridge

As you know the sink faucet cartridge is a small part of the sink faucet and it sits inside the faucet handle. It is responsible to control the flow of water and regulate the desired water temperature.

A sink faucet cartridge is made up of several parts such as a stem, o-rings, and valve.

When you turn the sink faucet handle, the stem part of the cartridge moves up and down. The stem is responsible for opening and closing the valve seat and controlling the flow of water. O-rings are small rubber bands located on the stem. O-rings help to create a seal and prevent water leakage when water flows.

There are different types of sink faucets so stem movement may change according to the faucet such as rotating, flipping, or pushing. The valve inside the cartridge is made of a rubber washer. It sits between the stem and the sink faucet body.

What To Do When Faucet Cartridge Won’t Come Out?

Your faucet cartridge is bad and you want to replace it but what to do when it won’t come out? Here are some tips you should try.

  • Gently grip the cartridge with a plier and twist it back and forth to loosen it. Be careful and do it gently so other internal parts won’t get damaged.
  • You can also use a cartridge puller. This tool is specially designed to remove a stuck faucet cartridge. It is easily available in any hardware store.
  • Tap the faulty cartridge with a hammer. Gently tap the cartridge with a hammer to loosen it. You should tap the hammer at the end of the cartridge.
  • The cartridge is made of metal. So, you can use heat to expand the metal. When metal expands, it will become loose and the cartridge will come out easily.
  • You may also spray penetrating oil or WD-40 on the cartridge and wait for a few minutes.

Can a Faucet Cartridge Be Repaired?

In most cases, a faucet cartridge can’t be repaired, you will have to replace it. With time cartridge parts get damaged. These parts are not repairable. Cartridge parts are designed to be replaced not repaired.

If parts such as O-rings are damaged in the cartridge, you can replace them. In this situation, you don’t need to replace the whole cartridge, just replace the O-rings.

FAQS About Bad Faucet Cartridge

How Long Do Faucet Cartridges Last?

A faucet cartridge typically lasts between 5 to 10 years. Its life span may increase or decrease according to how you use the faucet and the quality of the water. Hard water and frequent use of the faucet will decrease the life of the cartridge.

How Often Does the Faucet Cartridge Need To Be Replaced?

There is no general time period to replace the faucet cartridge. Whenever your faucet cartridge is not in good condition, you should replace it.

Can You Clean a Faucet Cartridge?

Yes, you can clean a faucet cartridge. To clean the cartridge, you may use vinegar or baking soda. Mix vinegar or baking soda into the warm water and soak the cartridge in the solution for a few hours. If the buildup quantity is high, increase the quantity of vinegar in the solution. Keep the cartridge in the solution for the whole night. After soaking, rub the brush on the cartridge to remove the buildup, and at last, rinse it with clean water.

Can a Bad Faucet Cartridge Cause Damage To My Faucet?

Yes, definitely a bad cartridge will damage the faucet. Due to a bad cartridge, water will leak and will create rust and corrosion on the faucet spout, base, and other parts.

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