How To Fix A Leaky Faucet

It’s happening again – the frustrating and nagging sound of water dripping from your faucet, enough to push anyone off the edge!

But why are you putting up with it, especially when it’s a constant reminder of water wastage and expensive bills? No, we’re not asking you to seek assistance from a professional plumber, at least, not right away!

Fixing a leaking faucet (on your own) is a relatively simple and inexpensive task, provided you have the right tools and equipment. The key is knowing how to repair your particular faucet type.

On that note, we’re here with this informative guide to help you know all about fixing leakage issues of the four most common faucet types without the help of a professional. Before that, we’ll highlight the primary causes of this plumbing problem.

So, without wasting any more time, let’s begin.

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What Causes A Leaky Faucet?

The water flow of a faucet is ideally controlled by an inner stem or cartridge with neoprene or rubber washers and seals that open or close against the water inlet ports. But when the seals don’t properly fit, it lets a small amount of water continue to the spout, inevitably causing drips. 

There are underlying reasons for this plumbing problem, which need to be identified before you start looking for a fix. The washer or seal may have lost its resiliency, failing to seal properly, or your faucet might be clogged.

Let’s check out some common faucet problems, which may cause leakages or drips.

  1. Corrosion of Faucet Parts

Corroded faucet parts can deform the water inlet ports, preventing washers and seals on the faucet stem or cartridge to seal properly. In such cases, the practical solution is to replace the entire faucet as repair work may cost a lot.

  1. Mineral Buildup

Mineral or scale buildup interferes with the washer’s ability to seal the water inlet ports, causing the faucet to leak. However, you can easily restore the faucet’s working condition by cleaning the sediment buildup.

  1. Worn Out O-Rings

The o-rings around the body of any traditional compression or cartridge faucet under the spout assembly wear out with time. If this happens, the base of your faucet’s spout is bound to leak. But a simple solution to this problem is to replace the o-rings.

That said, let’s now move on to the next section of this guide, where we’ll discuss how to fix these common plumbing problems in detail.

How To Fix A Leaky Faucet?

Your faucet might leak due to several reasons, and pinpointing the exact cause is impossible until the faucet is disassembled and the parts are inspected. On that note, we’ll now take you through the common instructions for fixing leaky faucets before moving on to the individual steps that need to be followed for each faucet type.

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Common Instructions For Fixing Leaky Faucets

  1. Arrange The Required Tools & Supplies

It’s better to gather the tools and materials needed to repair the faucet before starting with the disassembly. Keeping the essential supplies close at hand will shorten the time required to complete the task.

The tools and plumbing supplies you may need include: allen wrenches, adjustable wrenches, channel-lock pliers, a scouring pad, washers and seals, a flathead screwdriver, a replacement faucet cartridge, white vinegar, and spray penetrating oil.

  1. Shut Off The Water

Never forget to turn off the water supply valve located below the sink before you begin repairing a leaky faucet. Failing to do so can lead to an uncontrollable flood as soon as you start disassembling it.

If the faucet doesn’t include shut off valves, turn off the main water supply of the entire house. Once done, turn on the tap to relieve pressure on the lines and ensure that the water supply is off. Also, make sure you cover the drain with a cloth or stopper to avoid losing essential small parts.

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Steps To Fix Leaky Faucets Based On Types

  1. Cartridge Faucet

Step 1| Remove The Handle

Start by prying off the decorative cap on the handle and then remove its screw. Tilt the handle back and simply pull it off.

Step 2| Remove The Cartridge

Once the handle’s removed, the cartridge will be easily visible. If held by a threaded retaining clip, use nose-needle pliers to remove it, and then pull the cartridge out.

Step 3| Inspection & Replacement

Inspect the cartridge carefully to check whether the o-rings require replacement. If yes, remove the spout and cut off the old rings using a utility knife. You may also replace the entire cartridge if needed by matching the stem ends and the length of the old part with that of the replacement.

  1. Compression Faucet

Step 1| Remove The Faucet’s Handle

Use a utility knife or a small slotted screwdriver to pry off the decorative cap of the faucet, exposing the attachment screws. You may then remove the screws using a screwdriver and pull off the handle.

Step 2| Loosening The Stem

A crescent wrench will help unscrew the packing nut. Once that’s done, loosen the stem from the faucet’s body using an adjustable wrench.

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Step 3″ Replace The Seat Washer

Most leaky compression faucets usually need new washers, so unscrew the rubber washer from the bottom end of the stem and make the replacement. Also, be sure to coat the new washers with non-toxic, heat-proof plumber’s grease.

Step 4| Replace The O-Rings

If it’s the faucet’s handle that’s leaking, the culprit might be worn out o-rings. So, you’ll have to pop the stem out of the packing nut and make the required replacements.

O-rings are available in sizes ranging from 3/8 to 5/8 inches; make sure you match them to the exact size of your faucet.

Step 5| Install A Replacement Retainer Ring

This step can be skipped if your faucet stops leaking after replacing its seat washer and o-rings. In case the dripping doesn’t stop, check whether the original retainer is damaged and install a replacement retainer ring. If the leakage still continues, the seat may be pitted.

Step 6| Repairing/Replacing The Seat

Once the stem’s removed, smoothen the top end of the seat by sanding it using emery cloth or simply replace it with a new one.

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  1. Ceramic-Disk Faucet

Step 1| Remove The Handle and Cylinder

Access the set screw by pushing the handle back, remove the screw, and then pull off the handle. After that’s done, remove the faucet’s escutcheon cap and unscrew the disk cylinder’s mounting screws to lift out the cylinder.

Step 2| Cleaning The Cylinder Openings

Next up, clean the cylinder openings using a soft scouring pad and distilled white vinegar, and then rinse them thoroughly with water.

Step 3| Replace The Seals

Lift out the neoprene seals from the cylinder using a blunt screwdriver and inspect them for damage. Replace the seals if required and reassemble the faucet. However, if you’re replacing the entire cylinder (usually not required), set it in its dedicated place and secure with mounting screws.

  1. Ball-Type Faucet

Finding the primary cause of leakage in a ball-type faucet is difficult as it comes with a ton of parts. It’s best to buy a replacement kit and replace all the faucet parts with new ones.

Step 1| Remove The Faucet Handle

Pry off the small index cover from the faucet’s side using a pocket knife to reveal the hex-head screw. Next, take a hex-key wrench to loosen the screw and pull out the handle.

Step 2| Loosening The Faucet Cam Washer

Use adjustable pliers to remove the cap and collar of the faucet. Once you’ve removed them, loosen the faucet cam, washer, and rotating ball using the special tools included in the repair kit.

Step 3| Replacing The Rubber Seats and Springs

Up next, reach into the faucet body with nose-needle pliers to remove the rubber seats and springs. You can then slip in new rubber seats and springs onto a pencil tip and lower them down to the faucet. Repeat the process in order to install the second seat and spring.

Step 4| Reinstalling The Stainless Steel Ball

While installing the stainless steel ball, make sure its keyway is aligned with the corresponding tab inside the faucet. Next, install a new rubber gasket and cam on top of the ball and hand-tighten the top cap back onto the faucet.

Also, don’t forget to tighten the nut using a spanner wrench to provide proper tension against the stainless steel ball.

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Final Words

With this, we conclude our informative guide on how to fix a leaky faucet. But before taking your leave, we’d like to advise you to reverse the order used to disassemble the faucet for carefully putting it back together.

It’s also important to remember that faucets or any other plumbing fixture deteriorate with age, so they’ll need replacement sooner than later.

If you’re dealing with a fixture that’s old, replacing it would probably be your best bet. And with compression faucets growing obsolete, we strongly believe that replacing them with modern cartridge faucets is better than attempting repairs.

Hope we’ve been able to help! Feel free to reach out to us in case you have any other queries or concerns related to the topic.

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