While trying to replace a broken shower knob I stripped the screw that holds the knob in the cartridge. While trying to extract said screw, the head came off. Now I want to remove the cartridge but all the tools to do so rely on the screw hole being empty. I don’t want to try to yank the cartridge out with pliers because it might break and then I'll have a more difficult problem to solve.

How can I remove the headless screw? It’s really stuck and won’t turn with pliers despite using wd-40. The screw shank is too small for a drill bit extractor.

Any tip for removing the cartridge without breaking it given the situation?

enter image description here

  • 2
    Have you tried a smaller extractor? They make Micro Grabits for screws down to #6 size... Jan 8, 2023 at 3:30
  • I didn't know they made them smaller than the ones than the one I have (link for reference: amazon.com/gp/product/B00004YOBM). I'll look for the one you've mentioned.
    – Bruno
    Jan 8, 2023 at 4:02
  • 1
    locking pliers can remove screws that no longer have heads Jan 8, 2023 at 7:11
  • 1
    @FreshCodemonger locking pliers did the trick for removing the screw from the cartridge. If the cartridge is not damaged I'm just going to replace the knob and trim plate and call it a day.
    – Bruno
    Jan 8, 2023 at 18:38

2 Answers 2


Clean the corrosion from the sleeve of the valve. Be sure all of the retaining clip is removed. Use pliers to turn the cartridge a full 360 deg. multiple times. Then pull out while turning back and forth. ( you may need to support the valve. It does not look like it is anchored to any framing.)

I have removed many a stuck cartridge with this method.

  • 1
    +1 for specific hints on easing out a stuck cartridge! Jan 8, 2023 at 17:53

Are you sure you need to remove that screw? This looks to be a cartridge held in place by a fork-shaped metal tab in the slot shown in your image. If you're replacing the cartridge, just remove it with screw in place and use a new one for the handle.

Tab releases cartridge

  • Yes, I did remove the retaining clip. It too was stuck but I was able to force it out with the wd-40 and a wood nail
    – Bruno
    Jan 8, 2023 at 3:54
  • @Bruno you are a strong person. First use vinegar and apply multiple time to remove the calck. Then use a player to remove the screw. It will be damaged so you need a new one. If that did not work and it is to long to slip over the wrench to remove the cartage cut it off.
    – Traveler
    Jan 8, 2023 at 4:21

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