DYI Tip: Fixing a Leaky Faucet

Fixing a Leaky FaucetDrip. Drip. Drip. A leaky faucet isn’t just an annoyance. It could also be the sound of money going down the drain thanks to higher water bills and the potential for costly water damage.

Whether in a bathroom or kitchen, your faucet gets a lot of work. So it’s only a matter of time until the wear and tear result in a slow leak. The good news is that you can usually fix this problem yourself in about an hour. Read on to learn how.

What causes a faucet to leak?

Inside the faucet are many small parts that break down, loosen, or become corroded from the minerals in your water. Once these parts are cleaned or replaced, your faucet should work just like new. The most common parts that needs to be addressed are the seals, O-rings, washers, and valve seat.

What you’ll need

Repairing a leaky faucet doesn’t require any special tools. Other than replacement parts needed (which we’ll get to in the next steps), you likely have the materials in your home already.

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Lubricant (such as WD-40)
  • Cleaning solution – we recommend white vinegar
  • Scouring pad
  • Replacement parts – which you can find at any home improvement or plumbing supplies stores

Steps to repairing a leaky faucet

  1. Turn off the water at the shutoff valves– To avoid the potential of a big, wet mess, look under the sink and turn the shutoff valves (for both hot and cold water) to the right. Turn on the faucet to double check that the water pressure is now off.
  2. Cover the drain – Use a stopper to make sure small parts can’t fall through the drain hole.
  3. Take off the faucet handles – Pry off the decorative handles or caps with the flathead screwdriver, then use the Phillips head screwdriver to remove the screws. If the screws are stuck, spray some WD-40 to loosen them up.
  4. Inspect, replace, and clean internal faucet parts – Take your adjustable wrench and loosen the packing nup. From there, pry the stem off the valve. Look over all the parts to see if you notice any damage or corrosion. Next, inspect the rubber O-ring and washers to see if they look worn out. Replace any parts you think may be causing the leak. Finally, give everything a quick cleaning and put the parts in a place where they won’t get lost.
  5. Clean faucet valves – Pour white vinegar over the valves, then use the scouring pad to loosen and remove any mineral deposit, dirt, or other buildup. Next, rinse off the valves with clean water (don’t forget to pull the stopper out of the drain first!).
  6. Reassemble the faucet – Put the faucet back together back following the same steps in reverse order. Be sure all fittings are snug but not overly tight. When you’re done, turn the water back on at the shutoff valve, then check the faucet for leaks.

What to do if the faucet is still leaking?

If you go through the above steps and you’re still having problems with the faucet – or if parts are excessively damaged and beyond repair – you may be better off replacing it with a new one. The typical lifespan of a faucet is 10 years, and new models are not too expensive.

At Pratt Plumbing, we believe you shouldn’t have to live with the incessant dripping of a leaky faucet. If you have any questions or need help installing a new faucet, give us a call today.

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