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How To Fix A Leaky Faucet

Is a leaky faucet giving you problems? We’ll walk you through how to fix it.

To fix a leaky faucet, you’ll want to:

We’ll cover each step in more detail.

Need a faucet repair? Call Michael & Son.

Our plumbers will fix your leaky faucet to stop that annoying drip.

Select services are not available at all locations. Contact a location near you for service availability.

Step #1: Turn off the water

Before you start inspecting anything on the faucet, turn off the water. This ensures you won’t flood your bathroom when dismantling the faucet.

To turn off the water:

  1. Find the fixture shutoff valves beneath the sink. If your faucet doesn’t have any shutoff valves, find the main water supply to the house.
  2. Turn the valves clockwise until they’re tight.
  3. Turn on the faucet to make sure no water comes out.

Step #2: Disassemble the faucet

How you remove the handle depends on the type of faucet you have:

  • Cartridge faucet: Cartridge faucets have 2 handles, one for hot water and one for cold water on either side of the spout. These faucets have a cartridge inside each handle that controls water flow.
  • Compression faucet: Compression faucets also have 2 handles, but instead of a cartridge, use a screw and rubber washer to control water flow. You can usually tell you have a compression faucet instead of a cartridge faucet if the handles feel easier to turn on (i.e., feel less pressurized) than they do to turn off.
  • Ball faucet: Ball faucets have only one handle that swivels on a rotating ball to change the water temperature.
  • Disc faucet: Disc faucets have only one handle and 2 ceramic discs that control the water temperature. Disc faucets are wider and more cylindrical than ball faucets.

We’ll go over how to remove the handles on each faucet type.

Cartridge faucet

To disassemble a cartridge faucet:

  1. If your faucet handles have decorative caps, remove them to access the handle screws. You may need to unscrew the handle caps or gently pry them off.
  2. Remove the handle screw and pull off the handle.
  3. Lift the cartridge straight out of the handle body. If there’s a clip holding the cartridge in place, remove it first using needle-nose pliers.
  4. Remove the faucet spout to access the o-ring.

Compression faucet

To disassemble a compression faucet:

  1. If your faucet handles have decorative caps, remove them to access the handle screws. You may need to unscrew the handle caps or gently pry them off.
  2. Remove the handle screw and pull off the handle.
  3. Use pliers or a crescent wrench to unscrew the hex nut section of the valve stem assembly (usually located where the assembly meets the faucet body).
  4. Take the valve stem out of the handle body.
  5. Unscrew the washer screw on the bottom of the valve assembly and pry the rubber washer out of the valve stem.
  6. Remove the faucet spout to access the o-ring.

Ball faucet

To disassemble a ball faucet:

  1. Push back the handle and use an Allen wrench to loosen the set screw.
  2. Use pliers to unscrew the domed cap on top of the faucet body.
  3. Remove the washer, the rotating ball, and the valve seats.
  4. Pull off the spout to access the o-ring.

Disc faucet

To disassemble a ceramic disc faucet:

  1. Push back the handle and use an Allen wrench to loosen the set screw.
  2. Lift off the handle and remove the cap.
  3. Remove the screws mounting the disc cylinder.
  4. Lift out the cylinder, followed by the rubber seals.
  5. Pull off the spout to access the o-ring.

Now that you’ve taken apart your faucet, it’s time to figure out the problem.

Step #3: Diagnose the issue

Several issues could cause a leaky faucet:

  • Malfunctioning o-ring: The o-ring is a rubber gasket that attaches to the stem screw to hold the faucet spout in place and prevent leaks. Over time, o-rings can get worn out or loose, causing the seal to break. If the faucet is leaking from the base of the spout, the o-ring is usually the issue.
  • Broken washer: Washers rest against the valve seat (see below). Friction can cause washers to become worn and crack over time.
  • Corroded valve seat: The valve seat connects to the faucet spout. The washer sits against the valve seat to prevent water from flowing through the faucet when the faucet is off. Over time, minerals in the water build-up and corrode the valve seat.
  • Damaged cartridge: If you have a cartridge faucet, the cartridge is a valve on each handle that controls water flow into the spout.
  • Broken inlet and outlet seals: Disc sinks have an inlet and outlet seal that can become corroded by sediment buildup and wear out over time.

Once you find what’s causing the leaky faucet, you can replace the damaged part.

Step #4: Install the replacement part

Replace any worn or damaged parts with new ones. You can find all parts at your local hardware or home improvement store.

You can always bring the damaged parts into the store to make sure you get an exact replacement.

If you’re not comfortable replacing the damaged part or reassembling the faucet yourself, contact a plumber for help.

Step #5: Reassemble the faucet

Once you’ve replaced the damaged part:

  1. Put the faucet back together.
  2. Return to the water shutoff valves and turn the water back on.
  3. Turn on both the hot and cold water to make sure the faucet is running properly and not leaking.

Need help with your leaky faucet? Call Michael & Son.

At Michael & Son, we offer honest, upfront pricing for all faucet repair services. Our Virginia plumbers provide unmatched customer service and can quickly repair leaks on any kitchen or bathroom fixture.

Select services are not available at all locations. Contact a location near you for service availability.