Drip, drip, drip! The constant sound of the faucet dripping can drive you crazy, especially if it’s the middle of the night and you’re trying to catch some ZZZs before your busy day tomorrow. Maybe you have enough patience to tolerate the steady dripping of a leaky faucet. But those little drops of water can add up to a lot of water wasted, which translates to dollars on your next utility bill. It’s surprisingly simple to fix a leaky faucet, so read up and do it yourself!
Before you start, you will need to gather the following tools:
- Flat-head screwdriver
- Adjustable wrench
- Penetrating oil
- Replacement O-rings and washers
Follow these five simple steps to fix a leaky faucet:
1. Turn off the water supply.
The last thing you want is for the problem to reverse itself and your faucet to start spouting water. Turn off the water supply to the faucet at every supply point – from the handles to the main water supply. Shut it all off!
2. Remove decorative handle hardware.
Use a flat head screwdriver to (gently) pry off any decorative aspects of your faucet handle hardware. Beneath the decorative knob, you will find screws that fasten the handle to the faucet stem. Use your flat-head to unscrew, then carefully remove the handle. If necessary, you can use penetrating oil to loosen the handle so that it lifts easily off of the stem.
3. Remove the packing nut.
Using your wrench, loosen the packing nut and then remove the stem. The stem may come off easily, otherwise you’ll need to manually twist it off from the valve. Once you’ve removed all the parts, inspect them to see whether they have sustained any damage.
4. Replace the O-ring and the washer.
If the stem and handle are undamaged, your next step is to inspect the O-ring and the washer. You can find both inside of the valve.
O-rings and washers are the most common cause of leaky faucets. Since they’re probably your culprit, go ahead and replace both of them with new parts. The new O-ring and washer must an exact fit for your valve, so we suggest taking your old ones to the hardware store with you to make sure you buy the right replacements.
5. Put everything back together.
Now it’s time to put Humpty Dumpty back together again! Work backward to reassemble all the faucet parts you just took apart: O-ring, washer, stem, packing nut, screws, handles, and finally, decorative knobs. When you’re done, turn the knob to test whether you were successful in fixing your leaky faucet.
If your attempt to fix a leaky faucet was unsuccessful, it’s most likely due to loose parts, broken plumbing, corrosion in the valve seat, and worn out seals. In that case, it’s time to call a professional plumber.