how to fix a leaky faucet

Quick Fix: How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

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In order to try and save some money, my wife and I bought a washer/dryer set on craigslist. In the end, I got what I paid for. No matter how many times I balanced it, it would end up off kilter. The entire neighborhood knew when we were washing our clothes because it bucked and jumped around like an untamed bronco. At one point, I contemplated tying it to the wall to keep it in place.

On one occasion I went into the laundry room and water was pouring out on the floor. I thought, for sure, a pipe had burst because of the amount of water. In the end, it was just a consistent drip. I was amazed at how much wasted water a single drip could produce.

Leaky faucets can waste not only a lot of water, but money as well. If you are anything like me, you want to avoid calling a plumber for as long as possible. Well, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to fix a leaky faucet—all on your own: [Tweet This]

Possible Tools Needed:

  • Crescent Wrench
  • Pliers
  • Allen Wrench
  • Flat Screwdriver
  • Philips Screwdriver
  • Drain Plug or Rag
  • New Washer(s)/O Rings
  • Faucet and Valve Grease
  • Latex Gloves

Most leaky faucets are caused by worn and damaged washers in either the handle(s) or the base of the spout that enables it to move back and forth.

In The Handle(s)

Two Handle Faucet

  1. Start by shutting off the water by turning the valves located underneath the sink clockwise. If you cannot locate the valve knobs, you may have a penny valve, which looks like a flat screw. Use your flat screwdriver to turn water off.
  2. Check which side the leak is coming from by turning off one valve at a time, leaving one side open. When the water stops dripping, you have identified the problem handle. Then turn clockwise and shut off both valves.
  3. Place a rag or stopper in the drain to not lose any small parts.
  4. Remove the cap on top of the handle with a flat screwdriver.
  5. Remove the screw under the cap with a Phillips screwdriver and take off the handle.
  6. Use a crescent wrench and remove the lock nut.
  7. Take out the cartridge or stem. (Observe how it is configured so you can put it back in the same way later.) Check the rubber O-rings (black rubber rings-similar to tiny rubber bands) to see if they are damaged.
  8. If the O-rings are in good shape, the entire cartridge or stem may need replacing.
  9. Write down the type of faucet and take the broken O-ring(s) and cartridge to the hardware store to buy new ones. You can also order the parts online, but I prefer to go to my local hardware store to make sure I am getting the right part.
  10. If O-ring problem: Put new O-rings in place. (You may want to use faucet and valve grease to prolong the life of the ring. Use latex gloves if you do.)
  11. If cartridge/stem problem: Put in the new cartridge/stem by lining up the notches and securing in place.
  12. Put the remaining parts of the handle back together in the correct order.
  13. Turn the valves below the sink counterclockwise to open the flow of water.
  14. Test the faucet to see if the leak persists. If it does, contact a plumber.

Single Handle Faucet

  1. Remove the screw and take off the handle. You may need an Allen wrench.
  2. Take off the cap, perhaps even the spout.
  3. Take out the cam, washer, and the ball lever.
  4. Locate the O-rings and/or the seats and springs (small black looking canister with a spring in it).
  5. Carefully remove them.
  6. Take damaged O-rings and/or seats and springs to your hardware store to get new ones.
  7. Put new O-rings, seats, and springs in place. You may want to add plumbers (When replacing O-rings, you may want to use faucet and valve grease to prolong the life of the ring. Use latex gloves if you do.)
  8. Put the cam, washer, and ball lever back into place.
  9. Place the cap and handle back on. Reinsert the screw to the handle.
  10. Test the faucet to see if the leak persists. If it does, contact a plumber.
Sound Off

Sound Off: What other simple home repair tips would you like to know?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • David Zirilli

    These articles are perfect for me. Thank you. I have four or five leaky faucets and hate the idea of calling a plumber. So I have been just letting them drip for over a year.

    ANother thing that I would like help with fixing is that I have drafty doors. The doors are from 2005, so not too old, but there are visible gaps around the edge. I have tried to place a spongy foam strip which is sticky on one side against the door frame, but it falls off within a a couple of weeks. What is the best way to fix this? How would I replace the whole rubber strip that is supposed to seal it? Also, on the front door, I have the same problem because a couple of inches of the work frame have rotted away, so there is a crack of daylight between the door and the wall. How do I fix that would without replacing the whole doorframe?

    Thanks so much for these Handy articles! Great idea!

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