How to Repair a Leaky Faucet

6 January 2017
 Categories: , Blog


Leaky sinks waste water and increase your water bill. So it's important to inspect your faucets for leaks from time to time. If you find a leak, it should be repaired as soon as possible to conserve water. While you can call a plumber to do the job, it's typically fairly simple to fix a leaky faucet. You just need to know what type of faucet you have, and follow these instructions.

Compression Faucets

Compression faucets are double-handled faucets that use a washer to control the water. You'll know your faucet is a compression faucet if you have to apply pressure to the handles to turn the water off completely — compression faucets are the only faucet type that uses a compression stem and washer to control water flow.

  1. Pry the decorative cap off of the faucet handle.
  2. Remove the screw holding the handle in place. Then, remove the handle.
  3. Using a crescent wrench, unscrew the packing nut.
  4. Remove the washer and the O-ring.
  5. Coat the new washer and O-ring with heat-proof, nontoxic plumber's grease.
  6. Install the new washer and O-ring.
  7. Replace the handle and decorative cap.

Ball-Type Faucets

Ball-type faucets are typically found in kitchen sinks. They have a single handle and a lot of parts. Unfortunately, this makes finding the source of the leak difficult. However, you can avoid hassle buy purchasing a replacement kit and replacing all of the small parts of the faucet. To replace the faucet parts:

  • Unscrew and remove the handles.
  • Using adjustable pliers, remove the cap and collar.
  • Loosen and remove the faucet cam, cam washer, and rotating ball — most replacement kits include a small tool to make this set simple.
  • Use needle-nose pliers to remove the inlet seals and springs.
  • Remove the O-rings.
  • Coat the new O-rings in heat-proof, nontoxic plumber's grease.
  • Install all of the new pieces in reverse order.
  • Replace the handles.

Cartridge Faucets

Cartridge faucets aren't easy to identify by looks alone. Single-handled faucets look similar to ball-type faucets. However, instead of pushing back the handle to turn the faucet on, you lift the handle up. Double-handled cartridge faucets resemble compression faucets. However, compression faucets require you to twist the handles to tighten the washer controlling the water flow. While you twist the handles of a double-handled cartridge faucets to operate it, it's a smooth, consistent action, and the faucet turns off without applying additional pressure.

  1. Remove the decorative caps on the handles.
  2. Take the screw out of the handle, and pull the handle back to remove it.
  3. Using needle-nose pliers remove the threaded retaining clip that holds the cartridge in place if needed.
  4. Pull the cartridge up and out.
  5. Cut the O-rings off of the cartridge.
  6. Coat the new O-rings in heat-proof, nontoxic plumber's grease.
  7. Reassemble the unit by reversing the steps.

Ceramic Disk Faucets

Ceramic disk faucets are single-handle faucets with with wide, cylindrical bodies. They are very high-quality faucets that don't require frequent repairs, but if you do find a leak, chances are there's a damaged seal surrounding the disk cylinder. To fix it:

  1. Pull the handle back to access the setting screw.
  2. Remove the screw and the handle.
  3. Take off the escutcheon cap.
  4. Unscrew the mounting screws holding the disk cylinder in place, and remove the disk cylinder.
  5. Replace any damaged seals.
  6. Clean the cylinder's openings using distilled white vinegar.
  7. Rinse the vinegar from the cylinder. Then, reassemble the faucet.
  8. Very slowly, turn the water on — you don't want the force of the water to damage the ceramic disk.

If you don't know what type of faucet is installed on your leaky sink or you're not confident that you can complete the project on your own, you should consider contacting a professional like those at Jim Dhamer Plumbing and Sewer, Inc.