Faucets used to be standardized and all have similar internal parts but for a different appearance and style on the outside. The replacement parts could be ordered from multiple suppliers, making food an easy fix. Today, most brands have their own specifications and parts.
Now there is variance in stems (cartridges), valves, and splines. Because of this, you will need to know how to identify the brand of your faucet before you can fix it. Knowing what you're working with makes it easier to disassemble and fix. You can identify this by:
You can identify your faucet's brand by looking for a mark that indicates who made it. It will be engraved, printed, or laser-etched. Some of the most common brands include:
If you cannot locate any markings on the faucet, you can start disassembling it; start with the handle. You'll be able to measure the cartridge (stem) length of the faucet or resort to the number of splines.
First start by turning off the water supply; this can be done by locating the cut-off valves (there will be one for hot and one for cold). If you are working on the shower, you will have to locate the main water valve for the house which will be outside along the house or building.
If you need to remove the handle, you can do this by using a screwdriver set (Allen wrenches work well)—this will depend on the type of handle.
Once the screws are removed, you can pull the stem and handle out—they often come out together. You may have to wiggle the stem as you gently pull it out disengage.
Now it's time to locate the issue at hand. If you are dealing with a leak, you will likely notice that the rubber O-ring or washers have worn out (often due to age). Rubber washer replacements are cheap and easy to fix. Consider bringing your parts into the local hardware store (plumbing shops work well, too). They will be able to identify your faucet type and which part has failed. They can also help you with replacements.
You can also save money by identifying the cartridge brand. Do this by measuring the length and number of splines. One you have this information, you can compare them to a reference. Please take a look at this Interline Brand cartridge identification chart PDF.
Share your tips and advice below. If you have outstanding questions or are uncertain about the tips listed above, always resort to a professional. Best of luck!
© 2019 Layne Holmes
Berk on July 12, 2020:
I want to replace my shower faucet but I do not know the brand name it says the letters HC but I don’t know what brand it is or any help