Home Improvement Tips

 

How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

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There are few things more frustrating than knowing that your faucet has a leak and having to wait for a professional to repair it. A leaky faucet will not only emit a constant dripping sound but also cause a substantial increase in your water bills and place your home at risk of mold growth.
 
Fortunately, not all home improvement projects have to break the bank and stimulate gray hair growth. Repairing a leaky faucet is one of them! Granted, the severity of the plumbing problem plays a considerable role here, but for the most part, minor faucet leaks are both common and easy to fix with only your own two hands, a set of tools, and the following set of steps.
 

Part #1: What Type of Faucet Do I Have?

Before you learn how to fix a leaky faucet, it is important to determine the type of faucet that you have. There are four types of faucets available on the market, and each one features a different internal configuration and hence different repair instructions.
 
The types are as follows:

  • Compression faucet – The most easily recognizable type, this faucet features one handle for cold water and one handle for hot water.
  • Ball faucet – This faucet features a central handle that is utilized to set the desired water temperature, powered by a ball bearing. It also contains the largest amount of parts.
  • Cartridge (sleeve) faucet – Featuring a sleeve-shaped central handle, this faucet is powered by an internal cartridge. The top of the sleeve is typically covered with a decorative cap.
  • Ceramic-disk faucet – Somewhat similar to the ball faucet, this faucet features a central handle that is powered by a ceramic cylinder.

 
To determine your distinct faucet type, you may need to take it apart. Make sure to set aside the parts in chronological order and perhaps take a photo of the disassembled faucet, as reassembling the pieces incorrectly can lead to serious problems in the long term.
 

Part #2: What Tools Do You Need to Fix a Leaking Faucet?

Every standard faucet repair procedure requires the following tools and parts:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Sink plug
  • Faucet washer
  • O-rings
  • Brass screws
  • Cleaning cloth

 
Oftentimes, you can find these tools and parts at your local hardware store or plumbing supply center. Be sure to ask a salesclerk if you require help identifying any of the above.
 

Part #3: How to Find the Source of a Leaky Faucet

How to Find the Source of a Leaky faucet
 
Now, you are ready to begin with the leaky faucet repair process. If there is moisture directly below the faucet or under the sink, consider drying it to aid in your diagnostics process.
 
The first step is to identify the source of the leak, which can be done by answering the following questions:

When the faucet is off,

  • is water still dripping from the spout?
  • does water leak at the base but not from the spout?

When the faucet is on,

  • does water leak at the base as well as from the spout?
  • does water leak through the top of the handle?

 
Note: If you cannot identify the leak, your best option is to seek assistance from a professional.
 
Prior to proceeding with any kind of DIY repair, it should be standard practice to turn off the water – find handles (valves) beneath your sink and turn them clockwise. This is done both for practical and safety reasons. Also, make sure to use a sink plug or rag to cover the drain, as this will prevent any small parts from falling in and causing a much larger problem.
 

Part #4: How to Fix a Compression Faucet

How to Fix a Compression Faucet

  1. Remove the handles by removing the decorative caps, if any, followed by removing the screws beneath.
  2. Use a wrench to remove the packing nut under the handle.
  3. Remove the stem, O-ring, and seat washer – in this order. The seat washer is often the source of the leak in compression faucets, diagnosed when the spout is dripping. When the handles are leaking, the likely culprit is the O-ring.
  4. Replace the seat washer by coating the replacement with plumber’s grease and securing it with a brass screw that held it in place.
  5. Reassemble the faucet. The leak should now be resolved.

 

Part #5: How to Fix a Ball Faucet

How to Fix a Ball Faucet

  1. Purchase a replacement kit at your local hardware store, as ball faucets consist of many parts and may require specialty tools.
  2. Use a screwdriver to remove the handle.
  3. Remove the cap, collar, and faucet cam using pliers and a specialty tool provided in the replacement kit.
  4. Lift out the washer and the ball bearing that is responsible for the faucet’s function.
  5. Use needle-nose pliers to reach into the faucet’s mechanism and remove the inlet seals and springs.
  6. Replace the O-ring by cutting off the worn one and coating the replacement with plumber’s grease prior to installation.
  7. Install new springs, inlet seals, and washer – in this order. These should also be included in the replacement kit.
  8. Reassemble the faucet. The leak should now be resolved.

 

Part #6: How to Fix a Cartridge Faucet

How to Fix a Cartridge Faucet

  1. Remove the handle by removing the decorative cap, followed by removing the screws beneath and tilting it backwards.
  2. Use pliers to remove the retaining clip, if any – a threaded piece that holds the cartridge in place.
  3. Remove the cartridge by pulling it straight up, then remove the spout.
  4. Replace the O-ring by cutting off the worn one and coating the replacement with plumber’s grease prior to installation.
  5. Reassemble the faucet. The leak should now be resolved.

 

Part #7: How to Fix a Ceramic-Disk Faucet

How to Fix a Disk Faucet

  1. Unscrew and remove the handle, followed by removing the metal escutcheon cap located underneath.
  2. Unscrew and remove the disk cylinder, then lift out the neoprene seals from the cylinder.
  3. Clean the cylinder openings with distilled white vinegar and a cleaning cloth.
  4. Replace the neoprene seals if they appear worn.
  5. Reassemble the faucet and turn the water back on very slowly, as the force of the water can damage the ceramic cylinder. The leak should now be resolved.

 
Once you have completed your DIY plumbing project, make sure to check your work! Hopefully, that leaky faucet will bother you no more. Not only will you no longer have to listen to an annoying dripping sound or constantly wipe away the excess water that accumulates on your sink area, but you will benefit in other ways as well: Less water will be wasted, your sink area will not suffer any further damage, and you will have the freedom to repair most leaky faucets in your home from now on.
 
If you have any questions about fixing your own faucet or believe that the problem is beyond your abilities, we welcome you to contact us at The Handyman Company today. A professional handyman specializing in faucets is only one call away to help repair that troublesome leak!