How To Fix A Dripping FaucetHow To Fix A Dripping Faucet

A leaky or dripping faucet is common problem homeowners face, which annoys most people. To some people, it might seem like just a minor inconvenience. A dripping faucet can become a serious problem if not fixed immediately. The constant dripping is annoying, especially at night, and you’re wasting a significant amount of water. Allowing a leaky faucet to run can result in your sink damage and the surrounding areas, which can lead to costly repairs if care isn’t taken.

It’s important to fix a leaky and dripping faucet as fast as possible if you want to save money, avoid wastage, and prevent further damage in your home. Fixing a dripping faucet is not something complicated; you don’t have to become a trained plumber to fix a leaky faucet. You can easily fix a dripping faucet with the right tools and replacement parts.

Causes Of A Dripping/Leaky Faucet

Damaged Cartridge

If the faucet installed in your home has two handles (one for cold water and the other for hot water), it means you have a cartridge faucet. If water is dripping, the cartridge might have a problem that must be fixed. The cartridge is the valve in each of the two handles and controls the flow of water inside your faucet spout.

Water Pressure

Water pressure can cause a leaky faucet; if it drips at different times of the day, it’s a sign that the water pressure in your home is the cause of the drip. This problem also occurs if the faucet handle is moved a certain way, thereby causing the water to drip.

Broken Washers

Another common cause of a dripping faucet is broken washers; they normally rest on the valve seat, and friction will wear out the washers with time. In this case, dripping can occur; if the washer isn’t installed properly or you have the wrong size, dripping can occur.

Deteriorated valve seat

The valve seat is responsible for connecting the faucet to the spout; over time, the seats can corrode due to sediments building up inside. This will cause a faucet drip and has to be fixed to stop the leaky faucet.

O-Ring Malfunction

The O-ring can be found inside the sink’s faucet; this is a small disc attached to the screw and is responsible for holding the faucet handle to keep it in place. These O-rings can wear out with time, like washers, and will result in a dripping faucet.

How To Fix A Dripping Faucet

How To Fix A Dripping Faucet
How To Fix A Dripping Faucet

There are different types of faucets out there, and they also require different fixes. But general fixes can be applied to stop a dripping faucet. We’ll share the general fixes and then outline how to fix different available faucets.

Steps For Fixing A Dripping Faucet

Deactivate The Water

This is an important step in fixing a leaky faucet; you should turn off the water because you might end up flooding your bathroom. To deactivate the water, you must find the fixture shutoff valves beneath the sink. You need to turn the handles in a clockwise direction; if you can locate any shutoff valves, you should find the main control of the water supply for your house and shut it off. After switching off the water supply, you should turn ON the faucet to ensure no water supply.

Disassemble Your Faucet Handles

There are different handles, and how to disassemble them will depend on their fixture type. A Flathead screwdriver can be used to remove the caps of standard fixtures. You need to disassemble the cap on top of the handle; this will show the handle screws. After unscrewing them, you need to pull off the handles.

Remove The Valve Stem

After removing the handle, you should see the cartridge or the inner valve stem. They should also be removed; however, you should know that compression faucets come with a brass valve stem that cannot be unscrewed, but cartridge faucets can be removed easily. If you find it difficult to remove the valve stem, you should check the faucet manual or search online.

Check The Different Parts Of The Sink

Now it’s time to inspect different parts to see what components need to be replaced. You need to check the seals, O-rings, and washers to ensure they’re not worn out.

Replace Faulty Components

If faulty components are found, they must be replaced to fix the dripping faucet. Visit any local hardware store in your area to find the components you need. Make sure to come with the components you want to replace at the store.

Sanitize The Valves

After removing the cartridge or stem, you should look closely at the valve body. Normally, you can notice a little mineral buildup in them; you need to clean them. You can clean them by pouring white vinegar into the valve seat. Allow it to soak for a few minutes so you can scrub it away. You can also use the vinegar to restore the shininess and smoothness of the sink.

Assemble The Faucet 

After cleaning up and purchasing all the components required, it’s time to assemble the faucet again to see if the dripping has stopped. Turn ON the water supply after assembling the faucet, and check to see if there are leaks.

Hopefully, you should be able to fix a dripping faucet by following the steps outlined above.

Different Types Of Faucets And How To Fix Them When They’re Dripping

Cartridge Faucet – How To Fix A Dripping Cartridge Faucet

If you’re using a Cartridge Faucet and you’re having a leakage problem, you need to replace the cartridge by following these steps;

  1. You should remove the decorative cap on the handle by prying it off. You should take out the screw holding the handle in place. The handle should be tilted back, and you can pull it off.
  2. If you find a clip that is holding the cartridge, needle nose pliers should be used to remove them so that you’re able to pull up the cartridge.
  3. The next step is removing the spout and cutting off the O-rings with a utility knife.
  4. You should replace them with new O-rings, and they have to be coated first with heatproof plumber grease that is non-toxic.
  5. When replacing the cartridge with a new one, you want to ensure the new replacement is the length of the old one. You should also match the stem ending where the handle is attached.

Compression Faucet – How To Fix A Dripping Compression Faucet

Most of the dripping compression faucets require the replacement of new seat washers. Here are the steps to replace them;

  1. You should find a small slotted screwdriver or get a utility knife to pry off the cap attached to the handle.
  2. The screws are now exposed, and you need to use a screwdriver to remove the handle, allowing you to remove the handle easily.
  3. Unscrew the packing nut with a crescent wrench and loosen the stem attached to the faucet body using an adjustable wrench.
  4. You can see the rubber washer, and you need to unscrew it. It’s located beneath the stem ending, where it can be unscrewed.
  5. When you get a new seat washer, you should use heat-proof plumber grease, which is non-toxic, to coat the new washer before replacing it with the old one.
  6. You should replace the O-Ring, which is another culprit for dripping handles. You need to remove the stem from the packing nut and then make the replacement. You should know the size of your O-Rings so that you can replace them with the exact size. You should also coat them with a plumber’s grease before the replacement.
  7. Before replacing the seat washer, you want to ensure that the retainer (round, recessed disk) isn’t damaged. You should install another retainer ring if it’s not in good shape. 
  8. If the dripping continues, it’s possible that the seat is pitted, and you need to replace it with a new one.

Ceramic Disk Faucet – How To Fix A Dripping Ceramic Disk Faucet

  1. You should expose the screw by pushing back the handle and lift off the handle by removing the screw.
  2. The escutcheon cap should be removed; then you have to unscrew the disk cylinder screws, and you should be able to lift the cylinder.
  3. Using a blunt screwdriver, you have to separate the neoprene seals from the cylinder.
  4. If the seals are damaged, you have to replace them.
  5. You should clean the cylinder opening using distilled white vinegar. A soft scouring pad should be used to wipe the cylinder openings, make sure to rinse them well.
  6. The seals should be replaced, and then you can reassemble the faucet.
  7. Turn ON the water, but it should be done slowly to prevent excessive fracturing of the ceramic disk.

Ball-Type Faucet – How To Fix A Dripping Ball-Type Faucet

The ball-type faucet comes with many components, so it’s difficult to identify the cause of the leaky faucet. But to save yourself from all the guesswork, you can buy a replacement kit to change all the parts. This will help you fix the problem quickly. Here are the steps to fix a leaky ball-type faucet;

  1. You will start by revealing the hex-head screw; this can be done with a pocket knife to pry the small index cover from the faucet’s side.
  2. Pull out the faucet handle by loosening it with a screw that has a hex-key wrench; then you can remove the cap and collar using adjustable pliers.
  3. The faucet repair kit has a special tool for loosening the faucet cam and lifting it out. You should also loosen the rotating ball and the cam washer.
  4. Use needle nose pliers on each faucet body, then remove the springs and rubber seats.
  5. You should use the tip of a pencil to slip a new rubber seat and a new spring so you can lower them down the faucet. You should do the same for the second spring and seat as well.
  6. The stainless-steel ball has to be reinstalled, and it has to be aligned with its keyway inside the faucet body.
  7. A new cap and rubber gasket should be installed; they’re found at the top of the stainless steel ball.
  8. The corresponding slot should now be aligned with the keyway on the cap. Use your hand to tighten the top cap back on the faucet.
  9. Finally, the nut should be tightened with a spanner wrench to provide the right tension on the stainless steel ball.

Should You Replace A Dripping/Leaky Faucet Or Fix It?

There are a few factors you must consider to make the right decision; let’s look at them.

Age Of The Faucet

If your faucet is between 10-20 years old and dripping, it’s better to replace it with a new modern one instead of spending a lot of time trying to fix the leaky faucet.

Time It Takes For The Repair

When you realize it’s going to take a lot of time just to fix a single leaky faucet, it’s better to buy a new one than spend hours trying to fix the current faucet you have. You should know that dripping faucets typically take no more than 30 minutes. If you’re spending hours, it’s definitely not worth fixing it without a guarantee.

Cost Of Repair

When you realize that many components have to be replaced and cost a lot. It’s better to buy a new faucet. If your faucet isn’t expensive, it’s better to buy a new one that spends your time trying to fix it.

They’re Difficult To Fix

After doing your best, but the faucet is still dripping, replacing it with a new one is better. You should also understand that they’re not built to last forever. They will eventually cease to work, and most repair attempts will not work. If you’re dealing with old faucets, it’s better to replace them right away once they start dripping water.

Should You Call A Professional To Fix Your Dripping Faucet?

Homeowners can easily fix a dripping faucet without facing any difficulties. If you have the tools and time to fix the problem, you can solve the problem right away. However, if things are out of hand after making your attempt, it’s best to call a professional plumber to handle the issue before more damage is done. It’s important to know that hiring emergency plumbers can be costly. If you’re on a tight budget, you might want to compare the cost of replacing a new faucet and hiring a professional plumber to fix the dripping faucet.

What Causes A Faucet To Drip?

The most common causes of dripping faucets are; the washer or gasket being worn out, there is corrosion in the valve seat, and the O-Ring being loose. Once you identify the cause, it’s easier to fix a leaky faucet.

Can A Dripping Faucet Get Worse?

If not fixed correctly, a dripping or leaky faucet will worsen; It’s best to fix the problem as soon as possible, or you will end up with flooding and more repair costs.

Can A Dripping Faucet Fix Itself?

No, it will probably get worse over time if not fixed. If you want to prevent water wastage immediately, you must take action, especially if the faucet is too old.

What Are The Tools Required To Fix A Dripping Faucet?

Generally, you will need a Screwdriver, Plier, Allen wrench, and Utility knives. However, most faucets come with a repair kit that has all the tools you need when a repair is needed.

How Much Will Plumbers Charge You To Fix A Dripping Faucet?

The typical cost of fixing a dripping faucet is $270, and most homeowners will spend $200-$330 for labor and components replacement. Your cost will depend on the type of faucet you’re using and the labor cost of the plumber you want to work with since their prices vary. The hourly rate for plumbers can range from $45-$200; make sure to make comparisons to avoid spending more money fixing a leaky faucet than buying a new one.

Should You Worry About A Dripping Faucet?

Yes, you have to fix it fast, and if you can’t, you should stop the water source to prevent more damage to your home.

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