Do It Yourself Leak Repair: How To Fix A Compression Faucet

Repairing a compression faucet leak may be something you can handle instead of calling a high-priced plumber. Why not give it a try?

A leaky faucet can drive a person crazy. But so can a high-priced plumbing bill. See if you can fix it yourself before calling in a professional.

The first thing to do is turn off the water supply. Check under the sink to see if there is a shut-off valve below the pipes; if not, you will have to turn off the main water supply in the basement.

Next, turn on the sink and shower or bathtub water to drain the pipes on the level where you are working and the floor above, if applicable. It may be the faucet is leaking from the spout when the water is turned off. Usually the problem is a damaged seat, stem, or washer. Turn on the handle to drain residual water that might still be in the pipes. Cover the drain with a cloth or paper towel so you don't lose any parts. Pop off the faucet caps with a small screwdriver if your faucet handles have them. Use a screwdriver to remove the screw in each handle.

Now pull off the handle; if it won't budge then take a faucet handle puller and place the side bars of the puller under the handle. Now turn the bar at the top of the puller so that the shaft is inserted into the handle. Tighten the bar and pull the handle. To remove the stem, place slip joint pliers around the packing nut and turn counterclockwise until it is loose. Lift out the stem and put it in a bag. Do the same with the other side.

Take the two stems to the hardware store to buy new stem washers or valve seats. To install new washers, use a screwdriver to remove the stem screw. Now pry out the old washer and put on a new one. Next, insert the stem screw and tighten. Do the same with the other stem.

When you replace a washer, you always need to replace the valve seat. You will need a seat wrench and Teflon tape. Using the appropriate size end of the seat wrench, insert it into the faucet body and turn counterclockwise. Now apply the Teflon tape counter clockwise onto the new valve seat. Then place the valve seat on the appropriate size end off the seat wrench and insert it into the body, turning clockwise to tighten.

To save money you could just replace the O rings instead of the stem. To install the stem, place it into the faucet's body and tighten. Now use the slip joint pliers to tighten the packing nut clockwise. Don't put on the handle till you check for leaks. Turn the water on, and if it leaks, turn the packing nut a quarter turn. If it still leaks, you didn't install the stem into the faucet body correctly. Try it again. Now place the handle on and use a screwdriver to tighten the screws. Replace the caps. Make sure you always clean up the area where you have been working. Don't cross-thread any of the nuts or the valve seat when reassembling the faucet.

Turn on the main water valve again and double-check your faucets to be sure they aren't leaking. If the faucet works correctly, pat yourself on the back and enjoy the money you saved from the repair bill that wasn't necessary.

© High Speed Ventures 2011