How To Fix A Leaky Faucet
Drip, drip, drip.
A leaky faucet can keep you up at night. It’s also a big waste of water: A faucet leaking once a second sends 150 gallons a month down the drain. That’s like taking 2.3 showers a week without getting clean. And if you’re leaking hot water, you’re paying to heat it, too.
That’s not all. A leaky faucet can lead to bigger problems if it isn’t caught in time. Over time, dissolved minerals in the water can stain and corrode the porcelain in your sink. If left unchecked this can ruin the sink. And, should your drain ever clog, the pooled water could easily spill over onto your counter or floor, and cause untold damage to your home.
So it makes sense to fix leaks as soon as you notice them.
Why is my faucet dripping?
There are several reasons a faucet may develop a leak. These include corrosion and mineral deposits on the internal parts; or defective parts, such as gaskets, O-rings or washers.
Often, though, a faucet will leak because the parts have worn enough that they no longer fit as tightly as they are meant to — but aren’t so far gone that they need replacing. This is an easy problem to fix.
Fix Your Leaky Faucet in 6 Easy Steps
These instructions are for fixing a single-lever faucet, the most common type found in home bathrooms and kitchens.
First, collect your tools. You will need:
- Needle-nose pliers or wrench
- Vise grips, pliers (if needed to remove screw cover)
Next, follow these six easy steps:
- Turn off the water to the faucet. Do this by shutting off the supply valve under the sink. To be safe, shut off both the hot and cold sides.
- Remove the screw cover from the top of the faucet. (There are many different types of single-lever faucets. Occasionally the screw will be located on the side of the unit, so look there, too.) Depending on the type of single-lever faucet you have, you might be able to simply pry it up with your fingers, or you may need to use a tool. For example, sometimes the screw cover itself screws in, in which case you might need to use a pair of pliers or vise grips to loosen it. Be sure to use a piece of cloth or rubber between the tool and the chrome if necessary to avoid scratching the faucet. If the screw cover is small enough to fall down the drain, it is also a good idea to plug the drain to prevent losing it.
- Remove the screw and lift off the handle.
- Tighten the adjusting ring or nut. Depending on your faucet, you will probably notice either a brass adjusting ring or a nut within the mechanism. Use a pair of needle-nose pliers to turn the brass adjusting ring clockwise to tighten. (If it is a nut, use regular pliers or a wrench.) This will compress the parts inside the faucet. Unless the parts are completely shot, this will probably be all you need to do to stop the leak.
- Re-install the handle. Be careful not to over-tighten the screw.
- Turn the water supply back on. Watch for a leak. If it’s no longer leaking, you’re done!
If this doesn’t stop your leak, the problem is probably corrosion or broken parts inside your faucet. If you feel comfortable taking the faucet apart, by all means you can try cleaning the parts and re-installing. (Take careful note of how the parts fit together before you start.) Otherwise, it may be time to call your plumber. Either way, once your faucet is fixed you’ll be able to sleep sound at night knowing your leaky faucet problem is solved!
Video created by Mendel Plumbing
This article was written by Tom Mascari. Tom is President of Mendel Plumbing and Heating. Providing Geneva, IL plumbing and HVAC services since 1985, Mendel has a reputation for expert customer service and technical performance. Mendel also specializes in residential air duct sealing, remodeling and maintenance services to the Fox Valley area.