Knowing exactly how to fix a leaky faucet is a must for DIYers. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the average home’s leaks can waste nearly 10,000 gallons of water that is wasted each year, and 10 percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.
“Common types of leaks in homes include worn toilet flaps, dripping faucets and other leaky valves. These types of leaks are often easy to fix, requiring few tools and hardware that translates into water savings,” they say. “Fixing easy-to-fix household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills.”
Knowing how to fix a leaky faucet is as good as knowing how to unclog a toilet; It’s important to learn these proven techniques – just in case.
“Yours can start to leak, either at the nozzle or at the base of the faucet, so knowing how to fix a leaky faucet is important. As soon as you notice a faucet is dripping, try to fix it immediately. Stopping the dripping as quickly as possible saves money and resources,” say the USEPA experts. “Finally, the US Geological Survey droplet calculator (opens in new tab) reminds us that one drop per minute wastes 34 gallons per year.’
How to fix a leaky faucet
Whether it’s a bath or bathroom sink faucet or a kitchen sink faucet, here’s how to fix it with expert advice from John Lawless at the Big Bathroom Shop (opens in new tab).
1. Identify the problem
You can usually tell if your dripping faucet uses rubber washers or ceramic washers simply by turning the faucet handle. If the faucet uses ceramic discs, the handle only rotates a quarter or half turn. If the handle keeps turning, your faucet is using a rubber washer. The difference is important to fix a leaky faucet.
Worn O-rings are usually the main cause of leaking kitchen faucets, but O-rings can also be found on the valve body of other faucets. Sometimes you may find that your faucets are still leaking even after you have replaced the washer. Therefore, check if the O-rings and seals are worn.
With older faucets, a damaged washer is usually to blame. Take a look inside the faucet and if the washer is slightly damaged on one side, you can put it back in place with the other side. This will only stop the drip temporarily, so you need to replace it with a new one as soon as possible.
2. Turn off the water supply
Before you begin repairing a leaky faucet, it is important to shut off the water supply to that faucet. So find your shut-off valve so you can turn off the hot and cold water supply to the house.
3. Remove the red and blue indicators
Next, use your flathead screwdriver to remove the red and blue indicators from the faucet.
4. Loosen the grub screw
Now you have access to a small “grub screw” and you will need your 2mm allen key. Insert the Allen key and loosen the screw until the faucet handle can be removed.
5. Unscrew the cuff
Unscrew the chrome collar on the faucet to reveal a large nut.
6. Loosen the nut
Use your plumber’s grips to loosen the nut, unscrew, and remove by hand.
7. Remove the cartridge from the tap
After removing the faucet handle along with the outer casing, you can replace the ceramic cartridge. To do this, you can simply pull the cartridge out of the tap and replace it with the new one.
8. Thoroughly clean the faucet
But first, be sure to thoroughly clean the inside of the faucet, and pay particular attention to the screw thread, as this is where sand and dirt accumulate and cause problems.
9. Insert the new cartridge
Now you can replace the cartridge, making sure the tabs line up with the corresponding holes on the inside of the faucet.
10. Turn on the water supply
After replacing the cartridge and screwing everything back together, you can turn on your water supply.
What makes a faucet leak?
The most common causes of a leaking faucet are a worn washer or gasket, a loose o-ring, or corrosion in the valve seat. When turning your faucets on and off, be careful not to over-tighten them as this can cause the rubber washers to wear out quickly. Rubber washer and compression valve faucets tend to drip a few times after you turn them off, but there’s no need to tighten them further. Simply drain the remaining water without tightening the faucet.
Can I fix a leaking faucet myself?
Most people call a plumber, but it’s an easy DIY job that requires some common hand tools and a faucet washer kit.
In winter, it is also worth knowing how to protect an outdoor tap from freezing. If not – the most common cases are a broken pipe, a broken valve, a broken joint – or all three if there was still enough water in the tap. This is the right time to deliberately drip faucets.