How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

by Lisa Ward | Last Updated: December 22, 2019

What To Do When You Have a Leaky Faucet

Even the most high-quality of kitchen and bathroom faucets can become leaky overtime. If you have a leaky faucet in your home it is important to find the source of the leak and repair it right away as leaky faucets can cost thousands of dollars in wasted water per year.

In addition to wasting your precious income on water dripping down the drain, if the source of the leak is elsewhere in the plumbing, it could be indicative of a bigger problem that will require the entire unit to be replaced.

The leak can cause water damage in your home that ruins your cabinets, can cause mold, and will require pricey reconstruction to resolve the issues that could have been prevented by diagnosing and fixing the leak early on.

Should You Fix Your Leaky Faucet Yourself?

Should You Fix Your Leaky Faucet YourselfThere are a lot of reasons why it is a good idea to call a plumber instead of attempting to repair a faucet yourself. The main reason is that attempting to repair the faucet can void out a factory warranty that is meant to protect your faucet against parts defects, finish defects, and leaks. When you notice a leak or any other problem with your faucet the first thing you should do is check the terms of your warranty from the manufacturer to see if this is something that the company will fix for free.

Call the manufacturer directly to find out the exact terms of your warranty. Sometimes the factory warranty will guarantee leak-free performance and they will fix the faucet for you for free.

If your manufacturer’s warranty has run out, been voided, or you did not receive one with the purchase of your sink, the next step you can take is to attempt to diagnose the source of the leak yourself. Sometimes the leak is caused by a loose screw, loose handle, or some other easy to fix problem that can be solved by simply manually tightening the parts with your hands. If you’ve tried all the obvious solutions, but can’t get to the root of the problem you may need to call a plumber.

Calling a plumber to repair leaky faucets and other small jobs can be a good idea because the warranty on your furniture and appliances may be voided by messing around with the parts trying to fix a leak. It can also be dangerous to mess around with the plumbing in your house if you’re inexperienced because you may break a water line and cause flooding, risking damaging your property and thousands of dollars in repairs.

If you can diagnose the source of the leak you can attempt to fix it yourself. Sometimes it’s obvious what part is causing the problem and you can replace or repair it yourself. Leaky faucets are a simple problem to fix, and there are few ways that you can try to fix a leaky faucet yourself before calling in the professionals. The most important thing when repairing a faucet yourself is safety. You should take several safety precautions when working on a leaky faucet yourself. Fixing a faucet yourself is relatively safe, but to avoid any accidents you should utilize the following list of safety tips and precautions for fixing a leaky faucet.

Safety Tips and Precautions For Fixing a Leaky Faucet

Safety Tips and Precautions For Fixing a Leaky Faucet

You may encounter water on the floor while working in the bathroom or kitchen. This water may come from the leak or another source, but either way the best way to protect yourself from accidental slips and falls is to wear slip proof shoes while you’re working on the faucet/plumbing. Professional plumbers should always where slip proof shoes while on the job.

Before attempting to work on the faucet parts or on the plumbing, you should cut off the water supply to the sink. Cutting off the water supply will prevent accidental flooding or water breaks if one of the pipes or parts is comprised. You may need to cut the water back on to check if the faucet is still dripping, but be sure that it is 100% safe before doing so. Usually the water supply is located under the sink and can be cut off with the simple turn of the lever. Try turning the water off and on to test if it’s really off before beginning work.

When working on the faucet, plumbing, and under the cabinet you may run into sharp parts, dirty things, and even a nasty spider that’s been hanging out under your sink. Wearing heavy-duty work gloves while working on the sink faucet will help protect your hands from cuts, burns, and accidents.

Wearing goggles or glasses while working on the faucet and plumbing is a good idea just incase the water is accidentally cut-on and sprayed out at your eyes. It can also prevent eye irritation from cleaning chemicals, mold, or other contaminants found near faucets.

Three Types of Sinks

Three Types of Sinks

Ceramic-disc faucets are very popular in modern sinks because they offer perhaps the most uses with leak-free performance versus traditional sinks and other types of sinks.

Cartridge faucets also offer long-term performance with no leaks. The handle will sometimes have a cap on it indicating it is a cartridge faucet.

Ball faucets have a ball-bearing faucet which can sometimes become leaky with age.

What is the Source of the Leak

What is the Source of the Leak

If the faucet was installed recently and has been consistently leaky, this may be indicative of a bad installation job. If the installation was done by a nonprofessional, this should be the first cause you should consider. Look over the manual and tighten any parts that appear to be loose.

Sometimes the parts will become loose over time, so even if you have had your faucet for a long-time and it has suddenly become leaky, you should consider that the leak may be caused by a simple loose screw or bolt somewhere. Use a wrench to tighten any screw-on components of the faucet. Double check that the handles are pushed to 100% off.

Fixing a Ball Faucet

Fixing a Ball Faucet

A leak at the base of the spout may be caused by loose parts and is an easy fix. With a spanner wrench tighten the locking collar (the adapter part that attaches to the sink) in a clockwise direction. Often this will fix the leak. If the leak persists, further repair may be required.

There are replacement kits available for ball faucets that will include all of the parts necessary at a convenient affordable price. Even if all of the parts aren’t faulty, it’s a good idea to replace them or have the parts on hand in case they do go out. Replacing faulty parts is the best way to fix a leaky faucet.

Start by dissembling the handle of the faucet. Usually the handle can be easily unscrewed by hand, or it may require a wrench. There will be a ball and socket looking part beneath the handle. This is the faucet cam, ball, and washer. There may also be a rubber part. These parts can be unscrewed by pliers. With pliers, reach down into the mechanism and remove the seals and springs.

Start by replacing the o-rings. Cut off the old ones and use plumber grease on the new ones before you install them. To install the new seals and springs follow the instructions that came with the parts or simply reverse the process of how you removed each part. After you have replaced all of the parts, put the handle back together and cut the water supply back on.

Fixing a Cartridge Faucet

Fixing a Cartridge Faucet

To fix a cartridge faucet you will want to disassemble the faucet and replace old o-rings. There is usually a decorative cap on cartridge faucets so start by unscrewing this. Unscrew all of the parts until you can remove the cartridge from the faucet. Stand the faucet upright and cut off old o-rings. Coat the o-rings in plumbers grease before you put the new ones on.

Fixing a Ceramic Disk Faucet

Unscrew and remove the handle from the faucet. Under the faucet handle there should be an escutcheon which can also be removed. The escutcheon is made of metal and usually has a cap which can be unscrewed. The disk cylinder underneath can be unscrewed as well. There will be neoprene seals on the underside of the disk cylinder.

Pry the seals out of cylinder and soak the cylinder in white cider vinegar or another cleaner to remove any build-up. Soak the cartridge for a few hours at least. The seals should be replaced for the best results or you can soak them as well.

It is important that when you reassemble the faucet after cleaning and replacing the parts that you very slowly turn the water back on. Turning the water on too forcefully may break the ceramic disk.

Conclusion

Fixing a faucet yourself is totally doable with the right tools. Hopefully after reviewing this article you have a better idea of what kind of sink you have, what kind of faucet you have, why your faucet is leaking, and how to fix your leaky faucet. If you have tried all the methods on this list and the leak persists, you should go ahead with a plumber before the leak turns into a bigger issue.

Why You Should Fix a Leaky Faucet Right Away

If you have noticed a leaky faucet in your home the first thing you should do is check the factory warranty. The factory warranty may guarantee leak free performance and they may replace broken parts for free. Call the manufacturer directly to get the most accurate information about what your warranty covers. Even if they won’t fix the faucet, it is important to understand the terms of your warranty. Fixing the faucet yourself may void the terms of your warranty.

If you can determine the cause of the leaky faucet you can replace the parts and fix the faucet yourself. For most faucets there are repair kits and replacement parts available at a very affordable price. Following the instructions on the repair kit may be the solution to repairing the faucet with the most ease. If you don’t have the budget to buy new parts, you can try taking the faucet apart and cleaning and tightening everything. Sometimes parts can become dirty or loose over time and this is the cause of the leak. Take care when replacing and cleaning the faucet to cut off the flow of water first to prevent any accidents.

Safety is the number one priority. Always make sure to cut off the supply of water before working on the plumbing or faucet. The supply of water is usually located beneath the sink and has an easy-to-turn handle. Double check the water by turning the handles to make sure it is off before you start work. Wearing protective gear such as gloves and goggles is also a good idea to prevent any accidents. Slip-proof shoes are essential for preventing accidental falls. If you have a friend or family member you can assist you in repairing the faucet, this is ideal. You don’t need to call a plumber for a leaky faucet, most problems can easily be DIY fixed at home with a few simple tools.