Constant dripping of a leaky faucet isn’t just an annoyance–it can waste water and increase your water bill too! Repairing a leaky faucet is simple enough to do yourself and can prevent further issues from developing. Most of the time, a faucet starts dripping and leaking when its parts have worn out. A damaged cartridge, broken washers, loose O-ring, or corroded valve seat can cause a faucet to start leaking. Fortunately, the solutions to these problems are inexpensive to fix with the right faucet parts and plumbing tools.
Causes of Leaky Faucets
If you have a two-handle faucet, with one handle for cold water and one handle for hot water, then the faucet will have a cartridge. This piece influences how much cold and warm water flows through the faucet. If this piece is damaged or worn out, it can result in leaking.
Any type of faucet may encounter leaking due to worn out washers. These metal pieces sit above the valve seat and endure friction through use. After a time, these washers can wear down, eventually causing a leak.
The small disc that attaches to the faucet stem and helps keep your faucet handles in place is called an O-ring. This ring also undergoes friction when the faucet is in use and can gradually wear down over time.
Connecting the faucet to the water spout, the valve seat is an important part of the faucet. This piece can corrode or wear down, which can cause a faucet to start leaking.
Steps to Fix a Leaky Faucet
Step 1: Prepare by Shutting Off Water
Before getting started, make sure the water supply to the leaky faucet has been shut off. Sometimes you can find a valve shut-off underneath the sink. Twisting this valve will prevent water from flowing through the sink while you repair the leaky faucet. If you do not have access to a valve under your sink, you may need to shut off the water supply to the entire house.
Once the water supply has been shut off, you still need to run the leaky faucet to allow any water in the line to drain.
Step 2: Remove the Faucet Handles
To remove an average sink faucet, look for the screw behind the faucet handles. If it is covered by a cap, remove this piece. The screw should be loosened and removed with a hex key or Allen wrench.
Removing the leaky faucet of a shower or bathtub follows similar steps, but may be a bit more complicated. First, remove the faceplate located behind the handles of the faucet. Taking this piece off should expose the metal sleeve over the shower valve, which should also be removed. If you notice that your shower valve has a locking clip, use pliers to pry it off.
Step 3: Remove the Stem or Cartridge
If you are fixing a two-handled faucet, the cartridge piece needs to be carefully removed and set to the side. Twist the packing nut with a wrench to loosen its grip on the cartridge. Once it is loose enough, gently lift and remove the entire piece.
A compression faucet will have a brass valve stem that can easily be removed by unscrewing it.
Step 4: Check the cartridge for Damage
The cartridge could be the source of your leak issues. Examining the piece for wear and tear may lead you to confirm that it is the reason your sink is leaking. If your cartridge is the cause of the leak, you’ll need to replace it with a new one. As you examine the cartridge, be sure to check the O-ring around the housing for damage and wear.
If you’re replacing the cartridge in your faucet, ensure that you know the name of the faucet manufacturer and the faucet model number to find the right piece. If you do not have this information you can always bring the old cartridge to your local Grayco and ask for assistance.
Step 5: Re-Install the Faucet
Once you have the right cartridge, you can re-install your faucet. Prepare by sanitizing the area to remove unwanted mineral build-up. Then you can simply place the cartridge or stem into place, carefully adjusting the piece until it is properly aligned.
Step 6: Re-Install the Faucet Handles
Re-assemble the faucet handles by screwing them into place. Now you can turn the water line back on and run cold and hot water through the faucet to ensure it is working properly.
Nobody loves plumbing, but fixing a leaky faucet can be a quick and easy DIY home improvement project. With trusted brands like Moen, Danco, and Kohler and a knowledgeable staff, Grayco has everything you need to successfully fix a leaky faucet!