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How to Fix a Leaking Faucet: 3 Common Causes and Their Solutions

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Every minute you let a leaky faucet drip, drip, drip you could be wasting up to eleven gallons of water every day. That is almost 350 gallons a month and almost 4,100 gallons a year! To put that in perspective, that’s the amount of water used for 130 loads of laundry.

Even though that’s a whole lot of waste, some elbow grease and one afternoon can solve the problem. Don’t go hiring a professional, try to fix it yourself first. Here we go over three different ways of how to fix a leaking faucet without breaking the bank.

How to Fix a Leaking Faucet, Once and For All

Fixing a leaky faucet may seem complicated. But, the first steps in trying to fix it are super simple. The best part? The fix will cost less than $5 for any of the solutions below.

With a few simple tools and some supplies from the hardware store, you’re good to go. The below fixes will work on the majority of compression faucets around your home. If you start to have problems or make the leak worse in any way, you should call a professional.

Before we get into the fixes here’s a list of basic supplies you’ll need:

  • A flat head screwdriver
  • A Phillips head screwdriver
  • A hexagonal wrench
  • Small hammer
  • Steel wool to remove corrosion
  • Rag to wipe up any messes
  • Replacement parts for your faucet

Grab your bucket, fill it up with supplies, and go fix that leak!

1. Check Out The O-Ring

A faucet leak is a common symptom of a twisted or worn out o-ring. The o-ring is a small, round piece of rubber that seals the stem screw of the faucet. The stem screw holds the handle of the faucet in place.

If the o-ring is out of place, folded under, or broken in any way you’ll have a leak. That little piece of rubber can cause leaky drama. Here’s how to check and replace the O-ring:

  • Shut the water off to the faucet
  • Turn the handles to release any remaining water in the faucet
  • Use a flat head screwdriver to pop the cap off the center of the faucet handle to expose the screw
  • Unscrew the handle and wiggle to remove it and get access to the o-ring
  • Purchase a replacement o-ring the same size as the old one
  • Replace the o-ring and reconnect the unit

The faucet should be good as new. Still dripping? Let’s look at another option.

2. Is Your Valve Seat Corroded?

The key to most faucet issues lies in the connections between the components.

The valve seat is the connection between the faucet and the spout. This can collect crud and become clogged or corroded.

You can access the valve seat by popping up the whole faucet assembly. You’ll want to have some steel wool on hand to help remove any corrosion you find.

If the seat has corroded you’ll see the damage without taking apart the entire faucet. If you see corrosion, here are the steps to remove the seat corrosion:

  • Turn off the water
  • Scrape off as much corrosion as you can to check if a repair is possible
  • Find the square bolt holding the seat in place. If you see the bolt move on:
  • Using a hammer and a flat head screwdriver apply gentle pressure to the hole around the seat to pry it up. This can take some pressure and time. The corrosion can make this tricky. Keep at it and it should pop off with enough muscle power.
  • Can’t get the seat up? Call a plumber in your area.
  • Seat up high enough to get to the bolt? Use your hexagon wrench and place it around the square blot. Unscrew the bolt and pull up on the valve seat
  • Remove any remaining corrosion with steel wool. Use your rage to wipe off the seat and clean off the loose corrosion.
  • Place the valve seat back down and re-bolt the mechanism
  • Turn the water back on and check the faucet

Once you turn the water back on it should hold water again and not leak. Didn’t work? Don’t give up hope. We have one more DIY solution before calling in the big guns.

3. Worn Out Washers Cause Leaks

Before you give up and buy a new faucet check one more thing. Washers are notorious for wear and are a simple (and cheap!) DIY fix.

Here’s how to check and replace your washers:

  • Turn off the water and dismantle the stem assembly
  • Inspect the round rubber washers around the stem
  • Looking a little worse for wear? Run to the hardware store for a replacement pack
  • Take off the old and add the new
  • Reassemble the faucet and turn on the water

Voila! No leaky faucet! Didn’t work? Then it’s time to call professional plumbing services. But, most of the time, one of these simple fixes is the problem behind your leak.

Don’t Let A Little DIY Scare You

Don’t let a small leak scare you into spending a ton of money. It doesn’t always mean a whole set of new pipes. Sometimes, it’s a simple DIY project away from a solution.

Once you’ve had this type of problem it’s a good idea to get prepared. While at the store, pick up a few extra packages of washers and o-rings that fit your faucets. Ask the store what they recommend to keep in a plumbing emergency kit to keep under your sink. Having the right tools for next time makes a repair like this even easier.

We hope these tips helped teach you how to fix a leaking faucet. With a little know-how and the right set of tools, you’ve got what you need to fix that leak. Remember to have a good plumber on hand in case things go awry.

Try to fix the leak and end up with water spraying your bathroom? Live in the Tacoma, Washington area? We got you covered. Click here to call us or schedule a job quote today.

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