Here’s How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

Here’s How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

running faucet

Plink. Plink. Plink. The sound of a dripping faucet — whether it’s in the kitchen or the bathroom — is enough to keep you awake all night. Aside from the constant dripping, there’s the worry that you’re wasting incredible amounts of water. And for good reason: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a leaky faucet that drips one drop per second will waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year!

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Needless to say, when you hear that dripping sound, you’ll want to act as soon as possible. Luckily, fixing a leaky faucet is a relatively simple task.

First Things First: Compression or Washerless?

The two basic types of faucets in homes are compression faucets and cartridge (washerless) faucets. These two faucets use different components to control the water, so the process of repairing them is slightly different.

compression faucet uses a rubber washer that keeps the valve seat in place. Over time, water pressure forces the washer against the valve seat, creating constant friction that will eventually cause it to wear out.

On the other hand, a washerless faucet uses a cartridge or a ball instead of a rubber washer and a valve seat to control the faucet’s water flow. While they typically last longer than compression faucets, they can also crack or become worn-out through normal wear and tear.

Turn Off Your Water

No matter what type of faucet you have, you should begin each faucet repair project by shutting off the water at the supply valves under the sink. Turn both valves clockwise to shut the water off. After you’ve done this, make sure you open up the faucet to release any excess water and pressure still left in the line. You’ll also want to close the drain, just in case any small but essential pieces drop into the sink.

How to Fix a Washerless Faucet

Remove the Faucet Handle

Once the water has been shut off, start by removing the faucet handle. To do this, find the small set screw located somewhere near the bottom or back of the handle. Every brand is different, but these screws are often hex screws, so you might need the correct size Allen key to unscrew it. When the set screw has been unscrewed, lift the handle up and remove it.

Depending on what type of washerless faucet you have, the internal components of the handle may look a little different.

If You Have a Cartridge Faucet

You’ll need to remove the retaining nut before pulling out the cartridge. Using a pair of adjustable pliers, gently turn the nut counter-clockwise to loosen it. Then, loosen the rest by hand. When the nut has been removed, use needle nose pliers to pull out the cartridge. To repair the leak, simply replace the cartridge with a model of the same size.

If You Have a Ball Faucet

A leak is usually caused by worn-out valve seats and springs. To replace them, use a pair of adjustable pliers to remove the handle cap. It’s possible that the cap will feel stuck in the housing. Again, don’t apply too much pressure with your wrench. Instead, wrap a cloth soaked in white vinegar on the dome and let it sit for a few minutes before trying again. Once the cap has been removed, remove the plastic cam, cam washer, rubber packing washer and the ball valve assembly as well. When the ball is out, the valve seat and springs should be visible. Remove them and replace them with new ones.

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How to Fix a Compression Faucet

Remove the Faucet Handles

To fix a dripping compression faucet, you’ll need to access the internal parts of the faucet. Start by taking off the faucet’s handles by removing the set screws located near the bottom or back of the handles. Then, use a screwdriver to loosen the screws holding the handle in place.

Remove the Stem

When the handles have been removed, locate the internal stem and stem nut that holds it in place. Using a wrench, carefully loosen and remove the nut.

Examine the O-Ring

Next, pull out the stem. Now, you should be able to see the O-ring and seat washer. Take a moment here to examine the O-ring. If it looks worn or cracked, replace the O-ring while you have the sink disassembled.

Replace the Washer

At the bottom of the stem, you’ll find the seat washer. Sometimes, the seat washer is held in place by a screw. If so, remove it before attempting to remove the washer. Once the washer is out, simply replace it with a new one. Luckily, these parts are inexpensive. Just make sure that you replace the O-ring and washer with ones that are the same size, as even the slightest difference can cause a big leak.

Once the washer has been replaced, reassemble the faucet and give it a test run to make sure you are leak-free.

Know Your Faucet

Knowing what type of faucet you have will help you diagnose and repair a leak any time one might occur. And while it might take some time and patience, repairing a leaking faucet is a project anyone can do without having to call in the pros.

Pipe Down! What to Do About Noisy Water Pipes

Pipe Down! What to Do About Noisy Water Pipes

You expect to hear a rush of water when you turn on your washing machine or flush your toilet. What you don’t expect is a banging, clanging or gurgling sound coming from your water pipes.

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Here’s what’s causing the wretched noise — and how to fix it.

Why Are My Water Pipes…

Your plumbing system is an intricate maze of pipes, drains and valves, all of which work together to give you the comforts of modern plumbing on demand. When something goes wrong, you typically find out quickly with signs like leaks, low water pressure or noisy pipes. Often, the type of noise you’re hearing indicates what’s wrong with your plumbing.


Does it sound like someone’s hitting your pipes with a hammer every time you run water? The issue could be a phenomenon called water hammer, which happens when a water valve closes suddenly. You’ll often hear it when your washing machine stops filling, for example. The momentum and pressure from the water flowing toward the valve create the shockwave that causes the banging noise when the valve closes suddenly. It might not seem like a big deal, but water hammer can cause damage to your pipes, including leaks and joint damage.

One way to ease water hammer is by installing water hammer arrestors. Your plumber can install them near major valves to help cushion the shock of the water when it suddenly stops or changes direction. You might also need to reduce the water pressure coming into your home with the pressure-reducing valve.


Gurgling sounds typically come from drainpipes. This sound happens when the water can’t drain properly, usually when there’s a clog in the water pipes. Drain clogs often happen due to hair, grease, soap scum or objects that fall down the drain. They can happen suddenly or build up slowly over time.

You can sometimes clear a clogged drainpipe with a plunger to help force the clog through the pipe. A plumbing snake or an auger can also help break up tough clogs. A common plumbing myth is that chemical drain cleaners are safe and effective, but they often don’t work and contain harsh chemicals that can hurt you and your plumbing. If you can’t remove the clog with a plunger or snake, it’s best to call a plumber to help.

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Water travels through your pipes with lots of pressure, so the pipes are bound to move a little. Pipes should be secured well to keep them from moving too much when water runs through them. If they’re not properly fastened or the fasteners come loose, you might hear them rattling when you run water.

Resecuring the pipes can cut down on the rattling noise and prevent damage to the joints of the water pipes. However, many pipes run behind walls where you can’t easily access them. A plumber can help determine if loose fasteners are the cause of the rattling and resecure them if necessary.


If your pipes sound like they’re humming, it’s likely a water pressure issue. When the water pressure is high, it can cause the water pipes to vibrate and create a humming sound. High water pressure is more common if you have a well for your water, but it can happen with municipal water as well. High water pressure can damage your plumbing and cause leaks.

If you have a well, check the pressure to ensure it’s below 55 pounds per square inch. A plumber can test the pressure for you and help adjust the issue if you’re not sure how to do it yourself. If you’re connected to the municipal water source, your home likely has a pressure-reducing valve near where the water enters your home. You can adjust the screw in the valve to decrease the pressure, but be careful not to lower it too much.


Squeaking or squealing is another common sound you’ll hear in your water pipes. This often happens if small components within the plumbing, such as washers or aerators, become loose, dirty or damaged. When this is the cause, the squeaking sound is usually confined to a certain fixture or area of plumbing. Replaced or repairing the part should solve the noise.

If you can hear the squealing sound everywhere in your home, it could be an issue with water pressure. Buildup in the pipes narrows the space for the water, which can cause squealing as the water tries to squeeze through the pipes. Wear and tear on the plumbing system can also cause whistling or squeaking. These situations typically require a professional plumber to diagnose and repair.