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Share to PinterestStep-by-Step Guide to Fixing a Leaky Faucet
How-toHome Repair

Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing a Leaky Faucet

By Habitat Staff Writer
Share to PinterestStep-by-Step Guide to Fixing a Leaky Faucet

A dripping faucet isn’t just a minor annoyance; it symbolizes wasted water and inflated utility bills, echoing the need for prompt action. Fortunately, fixing a leaky faucet is a task well within the reach of most homeowners, requiring minimal tools and expertise. The satisfaction of resolving the issue yourself, not to mention the savings on a plumber’s bill, makes this DIY project particularly rewarding. This guide demystifies the process, breaking it down into manageable steps that ensure your leaky faucet becomes a thing of the past. Understanding the mechanics behind the drip can transform a seemingly complex problem into a simple fix.


Understand your faucet type

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The first step in tackling a leaky faucet is identifying its type. Faucets generally fall into four categories: compression, ball, cartridge, and ceramic disk. Knowing your faucet type is crucial as it dictates the specific repair approach. Each type has its unique mechanism and common failure points, which will guide you in what to look for when disassembling. Recognizing whether you're dealing with a worn-out washer or a faulty ceramic disk can save you time and effort in your repair journey.


Gather your tools and parts

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Before diving in, ensure you have the right tools and replacement parts. You'll need adjustable wrenches, screwdrivers, needle-nose pliers, and possibly a hex key. A trip to the hardware store with your faucet’s make and model in mind will help you pick up the right parts. It's also a good idea to have a small container on hand to keep track of all the small parts like screws and washers, ensuring nothing gets lost during the process.


Turn off the water supply

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Safety first: turn off the water supply to your faucet. This is usually done via the shutoff valves located under the sink. If you can't find them, you may need to turn off the main water supply to your house. This step prevents any unexpected geysers and keeps your repair job dry. Remember, the goal is to fix a leak, not create a flood, so double-check that the water is completely off before proceeding.


Remove the faucet handle

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The next step involves removing the faucet handle, which is often secured with a screw. This might be hidden under a decorative cap that you can pry off with a flathead screwdriver. With the screw removed, the handle should lift off, granting access to the inner workings of your faucet. Handle removal reveals the stem or cartridge, which is where many leaks originate, making this step crucial to identifying the source of your problem.


Inspect the faucet parts

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With the faucet disassembled, inspect for signs of wear or mineral buildup. Common culprits include damaged O-rings, worn-out washers, or corroded valve seats. Identifying what's worn or broken is half the battle in faucet repair. This inspection can also offer insight into the faucet's overall condition, helping you decide whether a simple fix will suffice or if a more comprehensive overhaul is needed.


Clean or replace parts

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If parts are caked with mineral deposits, a good soak in white vinegar can help dissolve the buildup. Worn-out parts, however, will need replacing. Ensure you've got the correct size and type of washer or O-ring; these are critical for a watertight seal. Sometimes, a thorough cleaning can extend the life of certain parts, but when wear and tear are evident, replacement is the only option to ensure a lasting fix.


Reassemble the faucet

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With clean or new parts ready, reassemble your faucet in the reverse order you took it apart. Make sure everything is snug and correctly aligned. This is a good time to replace any plumber's tape on threaded connections to ensure a leak-free reassembly. Patience and attention to detail during reassembly can prevent future leaks and ensure the repair lasts, saving you from repeated fixes.


Turn the water back on

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Slowly turn the water supply back on, watching for any immediate signs of leaks. A slow turn prevents any sudden pressure from damaging your newly installed parts. This gradual approach helps you monitor the effectiveness of your repair, allowing you to address any small leaks before they become bigger problems.


Test the faucet

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Run the faucet to check for leaks and ensure everything is working as it should. Pay attention to both the spout and the handle; there shouldn't be water leaking from either when the faucet is turned off. Testing not only confirms the success of your repair but also reassures that no new issues have been introduced during the process.


When to call a professional

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If your faucet still leaks after your best DIY efforts, it might be time to call in a professional. Persistent leaks could indicate a more complex issue that isn’t easily fixed with a simple washer or O-ring replacement. Recognizing when the problem is beyond your skill level is crucial to preventing further damage and ensuring your plumbing remains in good working order.

Fixing a leaky faucet isn't just about stopping an irritating drip; it's about conserving water and saving on your utility bills. With the right tools and a bit of know-how, most leaky faucets are a straightforward fix. Whether it’s a worn washer or a corroded valve seat, the satisfaction of a DIY repair is a reward in itself. So next time your faucet starts to drip, don’t despair. With these steps, you’re well-equipped to tackle the problem head-on, armed with the knowledge and confidence to restore peace and functionality to your sink.



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