Repair A Leaky Faucet In Six Easy Steps

Repair a leakey faucet with a few plumbing tips. Dripping water faucets are not only aggrivating, but also costly. Learn how to repair a leaky faucet using six, easy-to-follow steps.

Leaking water faucets are not only bothersome, but also costly. Small leaks can waste up to 3-gallons of water each day and permanently create water spots and stains in the base of your sink. Calling a plumber can also be expensive. If the constant drip in your sink is driving you mad, learn to fix the faucet yourself, saving time and money.


There are many types of faucets on the market today. Even though they may look different, they all have the same basic parts and are put together in the same basic fashion. Most baths and bathrooms have "mixing faucets" or "stem faucets," which allow the user to select temperature settings by controlling the hot and cold handles. Mixing faucets and stem faucets have two individual units, both of which may need to be prepared.



If water is leaking around the packing nut area or at the base of the handle, your connection is probably just loose. Use an adjustable wrench and tighten the nut located just below the handle. (Note: In some bathroom faucets, the nut may be located inside a designer handle. Pull the handle off to reveal the faucet's hardware.)


The majority of all faucet leaks are caused by washers which are worn, improperly installed or are the wrong size. Signs of poor washers include water which drips or runs out of the handles, slow leaks coming from the faucet, and water which collects or pools around the back of the handle area of the faucet. If you're working with a stem faucet, you can determine which unit is leaking by shutting off the water supply in stages. Begin by turning off the hot water to check for leaks. If the dripping has stopped, it is the hot water valve unit washer you'll need to replace. Follow the steps below to replace old washers with new:


Washers of several different sizes.

An adjustable wrench.



Turn off the main water supply to the sink you're working on. This cannot be over stressed. We've all seen enough bad sitcom water-disaster episodes to know that you need to do more than shut off the faucet valves. You'll find the shut-off valve close to the faucet you're repairing. It's usually located under the sink basin or inside a floor cabinet. Double check that you've turned the water source off by turning on the faucet. If no water comes out, you're ready for step two.


Turning counter-clockwise, loosen the packing nut. (The packing nut is located just below or inside the individual faucet handles. If you're working with a decorate bathroom faucet handle, you'll first need to remove the decorator covering.) Using the faucet handle, pull out the entire valve unit by twisting and turning it until it pulls free.


Holding the valve unit in your hand, locate the old washer. (It will most likely be at the bottom of the valve unit itself.) Remove the screw that is holding the old washer in place.


Using the old washer as your size guide, replace the old washer with one of equal size. Now replace the screw.


Place the valve unit back into the faucet, turning the handle to its proper position before tightening.


Tighten the packing nut and turn the water back on. Test for leaks.

If your faucet continues to leak and you're fairly certain the washer is to blame, try replacing your old washer with one of a different size.


BY WRAPPING the jaws of your pliers or wrench with masking or duct tape you'll prevent marring and damaging the soft metal parts of your faucet.

ALWAYS close the drain before attempting any faucet repair. This will prevent parts from slipping down into the drain as you're working.

PAY ATTENTION to the order in which you're removing parts so that you know how to reassemble them when you're finished.

LUBRICATE threads with plumber's grease to increase the seal.

WASHERS located on hot controlling temperature handles wear out twice as fast as those which control cold water.

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