How to Fix a Leaking Faucet

The humble water faucet is an under-appreciated fixture found in any bathroom, kitchen and laundry room. It makes civilized cleaning, washing, cooking and water drinking possible in our homes. A dripping or leaking faucet still works but can add a lot of unnecessary cost over time if not addressed.

Types of Faucets

It’s helpful to understand the basics of a faucet in order to troubleshoot a problem and fix it. More than one type of faucet exists and among them are ball faucets, cartridge faucets and ceramic disk faucets. There are three faucet types that have one swivel arm that swings or lifts from hot to cold with the same handle. Repair kits are readily available for single handle faucets, with instructions on the package. This article will focus on repairs for a basic compression faucet, which is recognized as having two handles, one for hot and one for cold.

Faucet System Components

Let’s look at the components of a compression faucet system:

  1.       Pressured water
  2.       Pipes
  3.       Passageway and Stopper

Pressured Water – At no time are the pipes in your home empty of water. Turning a valve on or opening a spigot simply moves the old water, refilling and directing new water from the source to replace the old water. The water that comes into your home from the original source outside is under high pressure. The higher the water pressure, the faster the flow of water. This is an important detail for shower lovers.

Pipes – Your home’s pipes carry water from the source to each passageway and stopper, both inside and outside of your home. An additional short pipe piece extends from the stopper to each spigot or faucet.

Passageway and Stopper – Connected to every faucet is a passageway which precedes a stopper, usually comprised of a mechanism with a rubber washer which shuts off or opens the water flow. The mechanism is a twisting or lifting handle of some sort.

Stopping a Leak

Homeowners can save a lot of money on plumbing repairs if they simply learn to fix leaking faucets since leaks or drips are the most common faucet repairs. The leak usually occurs when the washer in the stopper deteriorates.

Steps to fixing a leaking compression faucet:

  1. Shut off the local sink or tub valve which supplies water to the faucet.
  2. Cover the drain to catch any small parts that might drop from the handle assembly during the repair.
  3. Remove the leaking handle. Look for a screw to loosen.  It may be hidden under a decorative plug or button.
  4. Remove the screw for the rubber washer. Replace the screw and stem of the stopper with new parts, if needed. Swap the washer for an identical new one. Use the appropriate hot and cold water rubber washers. Not all of them are interchangeable.
  5. Put the repaired stopper assembly back in the handle. Make sure the stem is rotated clockwise and the nut is put in place.
  6. Put the handle back on, then place the button back over the screw if there was one.

If you have trouble fixing a leaking faucet yourself, or get stuck in the middle of your project, give Home Angels a call.