DIY Leaky Faucet Fix

by Rachel Laurendeau on July 12, 2012

Have you ever wondered how to fix a dripping faucet? Drips and leaks can add up to gallons and gallons of wasted water. A single drip of one leak per second can add up to 2400 gallons lost over a year. That’s a lot of water and a lot of cash going down the drain. Of course, you can call a plumber to come repair the leak for you, but knowing how to fix a leaky faucet is one do-it-yourself skill that every homeowner should have. Although there are different types of faucets, the process of repairing a dripping faucet is fairly similar for all of them.

• Shut off the water under the sink. Valves are typically found under the counter close to the wall.
• Close the sink drain or cover it with a rag, this way, if you drop any small parts they won’t fall down the drain.
• Since you’ll be taking your fixture apart and you don’t want to scratch it, tape a layer of duct tape to the inside of the jaws of your pliers.
• As you take the fixture apart, lay parts out in the order of removal. This will make reassembly a breeze.
• Open the faucet to release any water pressure that may be in the lines.
• Remove the handle, which is usually fastened with a screw or Allen screw. If you don’t see the screw right away, it may be underneath a small plastic, rubber or metal cover that you can simply pop off using a flat screwdriver.
• If the faucet has a large metal nut keeping the internal parts in place, check to see it if it loose. If it is, you may not have to go any further to find your culprit, just tighten the nut with channel lock pliers. However, if it isn’t loose, you’ll have to keep going. Remove the nut, screw or spring-loaded metal ring that is holding the internal parts in place.
• Remove the internal pieces with a pair of pliers, paying attention to how the pieces fit together. If you have a cartridge type faucet, don’t take the cartridge apart, just replace it with a new one. When reassembling, be sure not to put the cartridge in backwards or you could get hot water when you’re expecting cold and the reverse.
• Examine the parts to see if there are any obvious cracks, even the tiniest gap can allow water through. If you aren’t sure, it’s simple enough to replace the washers, O-ring or seals and springs (in a ball faucet). Your best bet is to take the parts that need to be replaced directly to the home improvement store so you’re sure to buy exactly the right part on your first visit.
• If any of the metal parts have mineral deposits on them, being careful not to scratch the metal, give them a good cleaning with white vinegar and a stiff-bristle brush.
• Reassemble the pieces in the same order you took them off and turn the water supply back on. There may be air in the line that causes a bit of sputtering so it may take a few seconds before your water runs properly. Turn off the water and check to be sure there is no more drip.

While you may not be able to address all of your own plumbing issues, fixing a leaky faucet is one DIY task that you can likely tackle yourself with the right tools and instructions.

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