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Ask Handy Andi: Fixing Leaky Faucets

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Ask Handy Andi: Fixing Leaky Faucets

Dear Handy Andi,
I’ve got a leaky faucet in my kitchen, and the constant rap-tap-tapping of the water is driving me insane. I don’t even want to think about what it means for my water bill. Help!

– Sally, New Jersey

Leaky faucets are one of the easiest, and least expensive, home repairs there is. There’s no need to give a plumber your hard-earned money when you can do it yourself for a few dollars, or sometimes even less. The biggest reason that faucets leak is because something inside of them is not sealing correctly. You can solve this easily by taking apart the faucet and checking that everything is clean, assembled tightly and that all seals are in good condition. Here’s how:

First, shut off the water using the valve located under your sink. This will prevent you from having a geyser in your kitchen when you remove the faucet fixture. Be sure to plug all drains so you don’t lose any small parts.

(Continued Below)

If you have a ball faucet, which has a single handle for both hot and cold, you will need to buy a replacement kit from your local hardware store. This will include some replacement parts as well as a few specialty tools you will need, and shouldn’t cost much. If you have a compression sink, which has two separate handles for hot and cold, you’ll only need to purchase a few gaskets, or O-rings, and washers. You may need to wait until after you take apart the faucet to know what sizes you’ll need.

For a ball faucet, start by using an Allen wrench to loosen the screw at the base of the faucet handle. This will allow you to remove the handle. Use a pair of pliers to remove the cap and collar from the faucet. You’ll want to wrap the teeth of the pliers in tape to prevent scratching the finish. Lift the spout off of the assembly to expose the cam — this is the part directly below the spout. Now, loosen the cam using the special the tool provided in the replacement kit. Remove the cam, washer, and ball. Reach into the assembly with a pair of pliers to pull out any inlet seals and springs. Cut off the old O-rings, coat new ones in plumber’s grease, and replace them. Install new springs, valve seats, and cam washers, which you should find in your replacement kit.

For a compression faucet, pry off the decorative caps from the center of the each handle, then use the appropriate screwdriver to unscrew and remove the handles. Use a wrench to remove the large nuts that the handles set onto. Pull out each handle stem to reveal first an O-ring — a thin rubber ring — then a seat washer — a thick, flat rubber ring. Remove the O-rings and unscrew and remove the seat washers. Replace both seat washers and O-rings with new ones, coating the seat washers in plumber’s grease.

Now, whichever type of faucet you have, reassemble it, making sure everything is nice and tight. Turn the water back on at the valve and test it. Your leak should be gone!

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1 Jim Hancock { 05.16.12 at 9:56 am }

If you haven’t repaired this yet and are hesitant of the torch, you will need to cut a hole on the inside wall to get to the threaded connection where it is screwed in.
This should be “about” 12″ to 18″ from the outside wall into the room. HTH.

2 Ray { 05.13.12 at 3:23 pm }

Daniel get a toarch heat it while it’s hot take a pipe wrench and turn it, it’s rusted up.

3 estate girl { 05.10.12 at 7:42 am }

To Ce, I,m not sure about your dripping shower faucet but for your stained tub get Barkeepers Friend. It is a cleanser like ajax. You will never go back.

4 Jaime McLeod { 05.10.12 at 9:39 am }

Hi Ce,
If you’ve tried the basic maintenance described here and you still have a leak, you may just need to switch out the entire fixture for a new one.

5 Ce { 05.09.12 at 2:14 pm }

I don’t know if this is proper to ask here or not. I have a leaky shower faucet and I have changed the knobs, yet it still leaks. When using the shower by turning the knob to shut off the faucet, it works fine. My tub has now changed colors from water stains. Any suggestions? Thank you.

6 Jaime McLeod { 05.10.12 at 9:40 am }

Sorry Daniel,
If a plumber has been unsuccessful, I’m not sure what else can be done.

7 Daniel Kilcrease { 05.09.12 at 1:52 pm }

I have a outside leaking faucet that is connected to copper pipe. I have tried and one plummer has tried to get the old faucet off to no avail. I am affraid something will be broken if I try anything bigger. I don’t have the room to cut off the pipe and redo the connection. The faucet is no good, washers have been replaced and no good. Do you have any suggestons as how to get it off?

8 BHUBANESHWAR SARAF { 05.09.12 at 10:05 am }

I find this useful

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