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Replacing a broken stem screw

QuestionI have a brass sill cock on a brick exterior wall. It was leaking, so I turned off the water and removed the spindle (is that what it's called?). I tried to remove the screw to replace the washer and the screw broke off. The faucet is soldered to the copper pipe so I would rather not replace it. Is there any way to remove the broken screw so I can just replace the washer? —Thanks!

AnswerThanks for contacting me! The spindle is called a stem—it should be where the screw and seat washer attach to one end of the stem and the handle at the other.

Did the screw break off flush with the seat? If it didn't, you might be able to grab the end with straight-end locking pliers and try to remove it.

If it's flush, then you need to drill a small hole in the center to match the diameter of an easy-out tool to remove the screw. Before drilling, make a center hole using a center punch. Also choose an easy-out that is small enough so when you drill into the screw, it won't interfere with the threads in the stem.

Before you do anything, get hold of a product called CorrosionX. Allow it to penetrate the threads for about 30 minutes before you try to remove the screw. Once the screw has been removed, apply CorrosionX to the threads and then use a tap to clean the threads before you install a new screw.

There is one final approach: perhaps you could purchase a new stem to match your existing faucet. Contact your local Home Center or a contractor's plumbing supply house. That would make life a little simpler.

To order CorrosionX products, click here or click the purchase button below!

Click to Purchase

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Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.

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