It isn't until you live with the drip, drip, dripping of a faulty faucet that you realize how effective water torture must be! Irritation aside, just one leaky faucet has the potential to waste up to 7 gallons of water a day. That's more than 2,500 gallons a year, not to mention a huge chunk of change literally going down the drain.
The good news is that in many cases you don't have to live with the constant dripping or call a plumber to fix it. All you need is a few tools, a bit of patience, and some perseverance. At worst you'll end up needing to call that plumber after all but more than likely, you'll gain a great sense of satisfaction--and the end of that water torture!
Jane Tip: If your faucet is especially old, or you keep having to replace parts, you may just want to replace the whole unit.
Repairing a faucet is pretty simple, but you need to know what kind of faucet you have which usually requires taking it apart. Once that is out of the way, you just need to determine which part inside has given out. Take these parts to the store for replacement.
Jane Tip: Remember to cover the drain with a rag or hand towel before you get started. You don't want any crucial pieces going down the drain!
What follows is a list of the different kinds of faucets out there and what you can do to repair them. Because every faucet varies according to the manufacturer, you may not have exactly the same parts as we have outlined here. Just remember to keep all of your parts together, and take notes as to their placement.
Non-compression Faucets with a Ball Handle/Rotary Handle: A non-compression faucet normally has just one handle. The handle pivots with the help from a stainless steel ball located inside the faucet.
Turn off the water underneath the sink by turning the valves clockwise. Let all water out of the pipes by turning the faucet on for a few seconds and letting it drain.
Remove the handle by unscrewing the retaining screw, located under a cap at the front of the handle. You may need an Allen wrench here.
If you have a leak that is coming from the handle of the faucet, simply tighten the piece of the faucet where the handle rests, called the cap. Remember to cover your wrench with tape to avoid scratching the chrome.
Underneath the cap should be a ring-shaped piece called the cam, followed by another ring-shaped piece called the packing. How do these pieces look? They may need replacing but probably aren't the source of your problem.
Under the cam and the packing is the ball. It should be attached to a stem. If this piece looks corroded or damaged, it may be the source of the leak. Take it to the hardware store for a replacement.
If the ball looks okay, the problem is then the little rubber rings called seats. There should be 2--one for the hot water and one for the cold. Gently pry them from the faucet with needle nose pliers and inspect them. They are kept in place by tiny springs which also may need replacing.
If everything looks a-ok, you may need to go deeper. Pull the faucet spout out by working it from side to side. Underneath there should be an O-ring. Check it out. Is it broken or damaged? If so, this is the piece you have been digging for!
To replace the O-ring, coat it first in petroleum jelly or packing grease, then fit it in place.
Replace all parts of the faucet, securing them tightly. While you want them secure, don't over tighten, as it could lead to more leaks! Turn the water on and enjoy your drip-less faucet!
A leaky faucet is a minor problem that can cause major damage to your wallet! So stop living with that DRIP! One last tip: if your drip has graduated into a steady stream of water, you may just want to replace the entire faucet. Good luck tackling that drip!