How to Fix a Leaking Faucet / Dripping Faucets


How to Fix a Leaking Faucet

A tap is a valve that is used for controlling the release of water to baths or sinks. The terms Faucet and Spigot are more common in the United States. There are a lot of different hot and cold water types of faucets on the market today, and how to repair a leaky faucet depends on what type of faucet it is and where exactly the faucet is leaky.

How to Find out What Types of Faucets you Have Installed

The bathroom and kitchen faucets are an important parts of our homes nowadays. Household faucets are sold in a large variety of different models and types, but they can be divided into two basic types of faucets. washer-type faucets, also called compression faucets and washerless faucets.

Fixing a leaking washerless faucet is a bit more tricky then a leaky faucet with washers. Before you start your repairs, you have to make sure that the water supply is turned off. Then you should have a look at your faucet to determine what kind of faucet you have.

  • Washer-type faucets use a rubber washer that seals onto a metal washer. The washer can wear out after some time causing the faucet to start dripping.
  • Diaphragm faucets are a washerless faucets type but they are still very similar to washer-type faucets as they also have a rubber diaphragm between the faucets stem and the seat.
  • Washerless faucets come in many different types and models. There are disc-type faucets, sleeve cartridge faucets, rotating ball faucets, stem faucets or "Two-control" faucets.

How to Repair a Leaky Washer Faucet

To repair a leaky faucet with washers, if you hadn't already done so you will need to turn off the water supply to the faucet. If there's a shutoff valve beneath the fixture, turn off the water at that point. If not then turn it off at the main shutoff valve located in your basement or crawlspace.

  • Take the compression faucet apart by removing the handle (this may not be possible with older faucets).
  • Loosen the top screw, which is usually found underneath a decorative cap in the center of the leaky faucets handles.

The cap on the handles should either unscrew or you can flip it off with a knife or screwdriver. Be carefull when you use a wrench on the leaking faucet, make sure to pad it first with some duc tape or cloth to protect the  faucet. 

fix leaking faucet
  • Lift the handle off the faucet stem.
  • Unscrew the packing nut beneath the handle.
  • Remove the stem by rotating it clockwise .
  • Clean the chips from the faucet.

Do not forget to check the stem. If the threading is worn out or if they are corroded you will need to take the faucet to your retailer or order a new stem to match the leaking faucet.If the stem is dirty make sure to clean it before reassembling.

  • Look at the washers, located on the bottom of the stem secured by a pair of brass screws. When the washer is bend or squeezed flat the you should replace the washer to stop the faucet from driping.
  • Take the washer to your local plumbing supply store to make sure you get an exact match in size and style.

The washer seat is located inside the faucet body. You will most likely not be able to determine if the washer seat is causing the leak by just looking at it. Any leaking faucet that requires regular washer replacement obviously has a damaged seat. The broken seat should then be refaced with a seat-dressing tool according to the manufacturer's manual.

Some washer seats can be unscrewed and easily replaced. To check if the washer seat in your faucet can be replaced take a look at the leaky faucet body to see if it has a hexagonal or square hole through its center. Maybe it is slotted for a screwdriver; if so, it should be replaceable. However, if the seat only has a round hole through its center and no slots, it will not be replaceable, and you should dress it with a seat-dressing tool.

To replace it, you'll need a faucet seat wrench, which comes with a combination of square and hex heads to fit most faucet seats. Turn the washer seat counterclockwise to loosen, clockwise to tighten. When you put a little pipe joint compound or silicone sealant (RTV) around the threads then that should make it easier to remove in the future.

How to install swiveling washers

  • File the shoulder off the end of the stem.
  • Drill out the threads of the screw hole.

A swiveling washer will close with a straight-down, action with no friction Instead of rubbing against the seat as it closes - because there is no friction there is less wear on it, allowing it to outlast fixed washers.

  • Now put all the parts back together again in the reverse order you took them apart.
  • When you put a litle petroleum jelly or silicone spray on the threads that will lubricate the faucet's action.

If the faucet is leaking from its stem rather than the spigot, then you should replace the packing. You may want to get the new nylon-covered or graphite packings, allowing the faucets handles to move more easily. Wrap the packing one turn around the stem just underneath the packing nut. Then finish with three complete wraps. Some types of stems make use of an O-ring, rather than packing. Replace the O-ring with a similar one to stop the leak. You should first tighten the packing nut by hand and then tighten it another half-turn using a wrench.

How to Fix a Leaking Washerless Faucets

A leaky faucet without washers usually means that the worn out part needs replacing. Faucet repair kits are usually available, depending on your brand. These repair kits will have all the necessary parts, or include only the specific parts that need replacing. Faucets without washers for bathroom tubs and showers can be fixed in the same way as faucets for kitchen sinks or lavatories.

How to Repair a Leaky Diaphragm Faucets

A diaphragm faucet is a washerless type of faucet but very similar to washer-type faucets. A single rubber diaphragm between the stem and seat is used for a frictionless close. Like with faucets with washers, diaphragm faucets also have separate handles for control over the hot and cold water flow.

  • To fix a leaky faucet with a diaphtagm, remove the stem by following the steps outlined for washer-type faucets. Unlike the washer types that have a washer on the end of the stem, you'll find a swiveling disc. If the rubber diaphragm doesn't come out with the stem, it is still stuck inside the faucet.
  • If the diaphragm didn't come out with the stem, use a pair of pliers to remove it from inside the faucet. Then install a new diaphragm around the swiveling disc.
  • Replace the stem in the faucet.

If the faucet is leaking around the stem, replace the stem's O-ring before reinstalling the stem.

My faucet is still leaking/dripping

If replacing the washers and or packing doesn’t stop the leaking, then the valve seat that is located at the base of the faucets body may need replacing or smoothing.

  • Remove the worn valve seat with a wrench, and take it with you to your local plumbing supply store to get an exact replacement.
  • If you can’t remove the valve seat, purchase an inexpensive seat cutter or grinding tool. Insert the grinding tool and adjust the guide nut to the depth of the opening of the faucet. Now turn the grinding tool clockwise a couple of times using light to moderate pressure
  • Clean out residue left on the faucet and reassemble the faucet.

External References

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