5 Easy Steps to Fix a Dripping or Leaking Faucet

by Matty ByloosMarch 21, 2016

Tired of Losing Sleep Over a Leaky Faucet? Fix It In Just Five Easy Steps!

A leaky, dripping faucet can be a nightmare. The constant “plop” sound of water droplets hitting the sink is enough to drive anyone crazy. But that’s not the only problem. Water waste from a drippy faucet impacts your utility bills (especially when it’s the hot water that’s leaking), and it’s also terrible for the environment.

The good thing is leaky faucets are pretty easy to fix, even if you plan to do it on your own. In most cases, the leak is being caused by a bad washer, or O-ring. This is an affordable piece that can be easily replaced in five simple steps. Want to know how to fix a leaky faucet? Grab your C-wrench and read on!
Tap with dripping waterdrop. Water leaking, saving.

Tools Needed for Repairing a Leaking Faucet

  • C-wrench (adjustable wrench)
  • Screwdrivers (Philips and flat-head)
  • Replacement washers or O-rings
  • Penetrating oil (e.g., WD-40, CRC, etc.)
  1. Turn Off the Water Supply

    Before you start dismantling your faucet, make sure you turn off the water supply that’s feeding it. If you forget to turn the water off, then you’re going to be in for a major mess. If the faucet you’re fixing is a sink faucet, then the shut-off valve should be located directly under it inside of the vanity or cabinet.

    There will be two shut-off valves, one for the hot side and one for the cold side. Shut them both off by turning the handles clockwise until they can’t turn any more. Turn both taps on to make sure no water comes out of the faucet, so you know that the flow of water has been stopped.

  2. Remove the Handle Knob

    Use the flat head screwdriver to pry off the decorative cap on top of the handle knob. This will expose a small screw that is used to mount the handle to the stem. Remove the screw and then pull the handle off of the stem.

  3. Remove the Stem

    Take the C-wrench, or adjustable wrench, and loosen the packing nut to reveal the stem. Depending on your faucet’s style and manufacturer, the stem will either pop right off, or it will have to be twisted off of the valve. Once the stem is removed, check all of the parts for any signs of damage.

  4. Replace the O-Rings and Washer

    The O-ring is the thin rubber ring that sits around the mid-point of the stem, while the washer is located at the bottom of the stem, inside the valve seat. Either one could be the reason for the leak, so it always pays to replace both while you have the stem exposed.

    When replacing O-rings and washers, it is crucial to make sure the replacements are an exact fit. If necessary, take the old O-ring and washer to your local hardware store to help ensure you choose the correct size.

Plumber is repairing a leaky drain in bathroom

  1. Reassemble the Faucet

    With the O-ring and washer replaced, carefully reassemble all the parts, reversing the order in which they were removed. Be careful you don’t over-tighten anything or you could risk stripping the threads. Once everything is back in place, make sure your faucet handles are in the off position and turn the water supply valves back on. Slowly turn the knob to make sure water comes out of the tap and then turn the handle off. Watch the tap to see if the faucet still leaks.

If the faucet is still leaking, then the leak could be the result of a more serious problem, such as the valve seat being corroded, worn-out seals, or even broken plumbing. If you’re unfamiliar with advanced plumbing processes and repair, then it may be time to call a professional plumber.

About The Author
Matty Byloos
Matty is the Content Marketing Specialist for Homes.com. He's a newly minted homeowner who currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife. When he's not working, he enjoys writing fiction, working on the house, and enjoying the amazing nature that the city has to offer. He is also the founder of NOVEL Creative Agency.
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