How To Fix a Leaky Cartridge Faucet

Don't Let that Drip, Drip, Drip Drive You Crazy! Fix that Leaky Fauce


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.

Project Steps

Cartridge Faucets: Some faucets are built with a plastic cartridge inside the handle that regulates the water flow. Cartridge faucets can come in the single or double-handle variety and are a pretty easy fix. Most of the time you will just need to pop in a new cartridge, which should only set you back about $15. Again, take the old cartridge with you to the store if you plan on buying a new one.

If your faucet is leaking from the handles, it's probably the O-rings (attached to the cartridge) that need replacing. If it's leaking from the tap, it's likely the seats and the springs (located underneath the cartridge) that have gone bad.

Every faucet is a little different, so you may have parts that are not listed below. These directions are for single and double-handle faucets.

Step 1

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.

Step 2

Remove the handle by unscrewing the retaining screw, located under a cap at the front of the handle or on the top of the faucet. If you are working with a single-handle faucet, you will probably need to use the Allen wrench here.

Step 3

Begin to take the faucet apart. There should be a screw underneath the cap that needs to be removed, then remove the handle itself.

Step 4

For a single-handle faucet, the handle rests on a piece of chrome called the dome assembly. Turn this counterclockwise to loosen. Remember to cover your wrench with tape to avoid scratching the chrome!

Step 5

You may encounter some plastic pieces under the dome assembly called the handle adaptor and the pivot stop. Remove these from the unit by unscrewing the screw that holds them in place.

Step 6

A nut or clip will usually hold the cartridge in place. Remove the fastener and gently lift the cartridge out of the faucet by pulling on it.

Step 7

Inspect the cartridge and all of its surrounding parts. Do the O-rings look corroded? What about the seat or springs? If the entire thing looks like it has seen better days, you may just want to replace all of the parts. Your local home improvement center may have a kit that contains all of the parts.

Step 8

Replace all of the parts as needed, and reassemble the faucet. If you are replacing the O-ring, coat it first in petroleum jelly or packing grease, then fit it in place.

Step 9

Once you get everything back together, check for leaks. If you are still hearing that drip...drip...drip, tighten any loose parts.

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!

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