You can take the faucet apart from up top. Only go after the bottom but if you wish to remove it from the counter top. Under the Moen logo on the handle will be a set screw you need an Allan wrench for. One the screw is all the way out, you can take the handle off and unthread the dome. You may have to remove the cartridge to proceed further, be sure to turn off the water. to remove the housing you will have to get the sprayer hose out of there. You should be able to find a manual online, or Moen will mail you some with a new pack of o-rings. They are specific to the faucet, universal o-rings will not work.
Under where you are pointing your finger is a stack of o-ring seals. When they dry up or become dislodged, it will become very hard to turn. Usually an o-ring replacement and some plumbers grease will do the trick and get things working smoothly, but it's not unheard of for it to be beyond repair. Depending on what's in your water, it can rust, Pitt, or scratch the brass on the faucet, once damage its done, it's time for a replacement.
Thanks Matt30. So I'm guessing that in order to properly diagnose this, I need to disassemble the existing faucet - loosening the corroded nut from the apparatus underneath and threaded center spindle, and pulling the whole faucet up - to see whether it's an o-ring problem, or worse. Do I have that right? I don't mind, I just want to verify. Interestingly, the faucet seems to loosen if you give it a few pushes back and forth, and it only seizes up after long periods of inactivity.
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