Tips for fixing leaky faucets

There’s nothing worse than the drip…drip…drip sound of a leaky faucet. Not only is it annoying, but it can cause higher water bills. That’s why fixing a leaky faucet ASAP is always a good idea. With a few tools and the right advice, leaky faucet repair is a simple DIY project.

Keep in mind that the repair process will differ depending on the type of spout and sink, but you can follow these basic tips for most faucet repairs:

Examine the faucet

Before doing repair work, put on your detective glasses and try to identify the source of the leak. That once-over will determine what kind of repair needs to be done. For instance, if the leak is around the stem of the faucet, you’ll want to install new packing or O-rings.

Turn off the water

Always turn off the water supply before doing repair work. Look for the shutoff valves under the sink. Turn them clockwise until they’re tightly closed. Avoid using too much force, as overtightening can cause damage. If the valves aren’t under the sink, you’ll need to close the main water valves. These devices are usually located in the basement or near the washer, dryer and hot water heater. Once you’ve shut off the valves, turn the faucet on to release pressure and drain remaining water in the pipes.

Close the drain

You’re going to be working with small screws as you take apart the faucet, and you don’t want them to end up lost down the drain pipes. Avoid catastrophe by concealing the drain holes with covers or plugs. You can also push a rag down the pipe.

Be mindful of the parts

Pay attention to the order and orientation of the parts as you remove them. This diligence makes for much easier reassembly. To help you remember, set the parts aside in the order you removed them. You can also take photos or videos as you go.

Check the seals, washers and O-rings

Seals, washer and O-rings are often the culprits when a faucet starts to leak. Inspect them for obvious wear and tear, such as a flattened washer or grooves worn into the parts. If they look rough, replace them. Take the old parts to the store with you to ensure you’re buying the right replacements. Alternatively, replace with a washerless faucet to help avoid the issue in the future.

Clean as you go

Take advantage of this time to clean the parts before you reassemble them. Once parts are removed, clean all seals and interior cylinders. Check the interior of the valve for pieces of deteriorated gaskets or mineral deposits. Use a cloth to clean the surfaces, and loosen these deposits by soaking them in vinegar.

Never push down on the faucet

At the first sign of drips, you may feel inclined to push down on the faucet in an effort to close any opening and stop the dripping water. Avoid doing this as it can cause more damage to the faucet.

Consider replacing rather than repairing

If an old faucet is giving you issues, it’s usually a good idea to go ahead and replace the faucet altogether. Follow these steps to replace your faucet like a pro.

Slow and steady wins the race

Once you’ve finished the repair, you’ll need to turn the water back on. Expert advice from Lowes: Make sure the faucet is in the “on” position, and turn the water back on slowly. If the faucet is in the “off” position or there’s too much pressure applied too quickly, it may cause more serious damage, such as cracking the discs in the cartridge. Let the water run until it flows normally.

Being prepared before home maintenance issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs. See what plans are available in your area.