Nothing is more annoying than a leaky faucet. The constant drip, drip, drip is enough to drive anyone up a wall. Rather than trying (and failing) to ignore a leaking faucet, it is best to repair it as soon as you can. Not only will repairing the faucet save your sanity, but it will also save you money on your water bill. After all, leaks can cost your hundreds with all that water that goes to waste.
And here’s something to motivate you: fixing a leaky faucet is inexpensive and quick. The key, however, is knowing how to repair particular types of faucets.
Why is the Faucet Dripping?
First off, let’s talk about the causes behind dripping faucets. There are four kinds of faucets—ball, cartridge, ceramic disc, compression—and each is susceptible to some kind of issue. For instance, a compression type faucet is going to need rubber washers, which tend to erode with usage and need replacing once in a while. The other kinds of faucets require neoprene seals or O-rings, which again, will cause leaks when they need replacing.
Of course, there could be other reasons, such as damaged parts from improper installation, water pressure that is too high, or broken plumbing elsewhere in your home.
How Do I Fix a Leaky Faucet?
Once you have determined what kind of faucet you have, you will need to choose a place where the parts can be laid out in the order you deconstruct the unit. This will help you stay organized and keep the process of rebuilding the faucet hassle free. You can also take a photo of the faucet before taking it apart so you have a visual reference.
You should also make sure water to the sink has been shut off. Place a rag over the sink drain to keep any dropped pieces from vanishing. It is recommended that you put some tape around the jaws of a wrench (you’re going to need it) to prevent abrasions on the metal. If there are any mineral deposits on the faucet, have a scouring pad and some distilled white vinegar ready to go.
Fixing a Leaky Compression Faucet
One of the oldest forms of faucets and found frequently in older homes, compression faucets are prone to leaking and need a lot of maintenance. The hot and cold handles are separate, and you need to tighten the handles in order to stop the flow of water.
Here is how to fix a leaky compression faucet:
- Using a utility knife or small slotted screwdriver, take off the decorative top of the handle. You will see screws underneath.
- With the same screwdriver, remove the screw in the handle. Then pull off the handle.
- Take a crescent wrench to loosen the packing nut then an adjustable wrench for the stem of the faucet’s body.
- Unscrew the wash from the bottom of the stem. Use a new seat washer. Don’t forget to coat the washers in plumber’s grease.
- Next, replace the O-ring in the packing nut, which is often the cause of leaks. Make sure you match the exact size of the existing O-ring when replacing it. Coat this in plumber’s grease as well.
- Check the retainer, a recessed disc where the washer sits. If the retainer is worn, grind it down smooth before installing a new retainer ring.
- Sand the top half of the seat with an emery cloth.
- If the seat cannot be repaired or is too pitted, you will need to replace it.
Fixing a Leaky Cartridge Faucet
These are often indistinguishable from compression faucets in style, but using them will help you tell the two types apart. A cartridge faucet does not require any pressure to get water to flow. Instead, you just turn the handles.
Here is how to repair a cartridge faucet:
- Take the decorative cap off from the handle. Next, remove the screw, so you can slide off the handle.
- If you see a retaining clip securing the cartridge, you will need a pair of needle nose pliers to get it loose. Afterwards, slide the cartridge up.
- Check the O-rings or seals. You will need to cut the old O-rings with a knife. Be sure to coat the new O-rings with plumber’s grease.
- Replace the cartridge and handle.
Fixing a Leaky Ceramic Disc Faucet
Out of all the faucet types, ceramic discs (disks) are the newest. They have a long cylindrical body. Within the balance cartridge, hot and cold are mixed together. Temperature is controlled by the movement of the handle.
Here are the steps to repairing a dripping ceramic disc faucet:
- Push the handle up so you have access to the screw. Take out the screw then remove the handle.
- You will see the escutcheon cap. Unscrew the mounting screws on the cylinder then remove the cylinder.
- Using a screwdriver (blunt edge), gently lift the seals free. Check for damage. If they are worn out, replace them.
- Look at the cylinder for any mineral build up. You can use some distilled white vinegar and your scouring pad to clean it off.
- Return the seals and rebuild the fault.
- From there, put the handle in the “on” position. Let water run through gradually, since the force of water could cause the ceramic disc to fracture.
Fixing a Ball-Type Faucet
A single-level ball-type faucet is the most common type, especially in bathrooms. These faucets do not use washers and have a single handle that pivots around a ball-shaped head. The ball is housed within the body and has slots or chambers and spring-loaded seals or O-rings.
Here is how you fix a ball-type faucet:
- Pry off the index cover on the faucet to get to the hex-head screw.
- Use a hex-key wrench to loosen the screw and remove the faucet handle.
- Remove the cap and collar with a pair of adjustable pliers.
- Loosen the faucet cam and lift it up, including the cam washer and rotating ball.
- Using pliers, reach into the faucet to remove the springs and rubber seats. You can put in a new rubber seat and spring together before lowering it back into the faucet body. Do this two times.
- Return the ball, aligning it appropriately within the body.
- Place a rubber gasket and cam cap (cleaned or replaced) on top of the ball.
- Realign the cap then tighten it back into place.
- Using a spanner wrench, tighten the nut to add tension against the ball.
If that does not help the leak, you can purchase a ball-type faucet replacement kit.
With that, the dripping should be gone. Cleaning off the rubber washers, seats, and other components of the faucets, or replacing pieces, can stop leaks before they get too worse.
If you need help, call us today. We have all the tools needed to do the job.