Don’t ignore that leaking faucet in your kitchen or bathroom. All those wasted drops of water add up, and the solution can be simple for even an occasional DIYer.
Whether it’s the cause of water pooling under your sink, or the annoying dripping sound that keeps you up at night, a leaky faucet is a nuisance that could turn into a full-blown problem if not addressed properly. Fortunately, putting a stop to a leaky faucet, such as the compression faucet in your kitchen, can be surprisingly inexpensive and simple.
Tools you’ll need:
- Adjustable wrench; C wrench
- Phillips and/or flat-head screwdriver
- Penetrating oil, such as WD-40 or CRC
- Replacement washers and O-rings
Step 1: Don’t make a mess worse by transforming your broken faucet into Old Faithful. Before applying any wrench or screwdriver to your fixture, make sure your water supply is turned off, from the handles over the sink to the knobs underneath that control the water coming in from the main line.
Step 2: Remove any decorative parts of the handle knobs. A simple prying with a flat-head screwdriver will take care of that. Underneath each knob, there will be a screw that mounts the handle to the stem. Unscrew, then gently remove the handle with your flat-head. Using penetrating oil can assist in loosening it, allowing you to take the faucet handle off the stem.
Step 3: Use your wrench to loosen the packing nut. From there you should notice the stem. Remove that as well. Depending on the faucet, some stems pop right off, while others twist off from the valve. Check the removed parts for any damage.
Step 4: If everything is intact at this point, inspect the O-ring and washer inside the valve seat—they could be the reason for your leak. Remove the washer and put a replacement inside the seat.
It’s crucial to make sure your replacement washers and O-rings are an exact fit. If you are unsure about either, check the seat to see if the sides fit a cone-shaped or flat washer, and purchase the appropriate type. You may want to take the old O-ring to your local hardware store to verify the correct size. You can also buy a package including many different sizes of O-rings—sometimes it’s worth the extra few bucks.
Step 5: From here, carefully reassemble all the parts (in order of washer/O-ring, stem, packing nut, screw, and handle). Slowly and gently turn the knob to test the running water and check to see if you’ve licked that leak.
If, after all of your hard work, you notice the faucet is still dripping, then the cause may be corrosion in your valve seat. If not cleaned over time, it can produce leaks near the spout. Other potential problems are worn-out seals, loose parts, or, even worse, broken plumbing. If your troubleshooting leads to these areas, or if other sudden complications occur, then it may be time to call a professional plumber.