Fixing a Leaky Faucet

faucet-t462290955If you live in an older home you might just think that repairing leaky faucets is simply a fact of life! It doesn’t have to be.

With new developments in faucet technology you can now upgrade to a reliable ceramic disc faucet that will in all likelihood never need repair. Disc faucets mix hot and cold water inside an internal mixing chamber called a pressure balance cartridge, providing smoother and more reliable temperature regulation.

Valves control water flow with two ceramic discs at the bottom of the chamber so that you can adjust temperature simply and easily with a side-to-side rotation of the handle.

If you’re having a lot of trouble with your current faucets, you won’t believe the difference you’ll enjoy by installing new ceramic disc faucets. Really, it’s like night and day.

But if you like your current faucet and just want the leak to go away, here’s a simple guide for identifying your faucet type and doing simple DIY repairs. (By the way, always remember to shut off the water supply prior to repairing any faucet.)

Let’s go ‘Old School’: Compression washer faucets.

If you feel like your home’s faucets are absolutely ‘ancient’, there’s a good chance they are compression washer faucets. These bad boys have been around since the beginning of indoor plumbing!

Compression washer faucets are the least expensive as they are really nothing more than a screw with a rubber washer that presses up against a valve seat. Their low cost goes right in hand with plenty of leaking and maintenance.

Fortunately repairing a leaky compression washer faucet is a piece of cake.

Start by either unscrewing or popping off the small cap on the top of the handle. Once the handle is off you will see the screw that holds the handle to the valve stem assembly. Simply remove this screw and pull off the handle. Next, twist off the valve stem cover.

Now that you can see the entire valve stem assembly, you’ll notice a hexagonal bolt at the bottom of the assembly. Use a wrench to remove the assembly from the valve seat.

At the bottom you’ll see a small screw holding on what will probably be a pretty mashed up washer. Remove the screw, replace the washer, and then do all of these steps in reverse. 90% of the time this will successfully repair a leaky compression washer faucet.

Ball faucets: Pioneers in washerless faucet technology.

Ball faucets are common in kitchen sinks. To identify this faucet for certain, look for a single handle that you push back to turn on.

Water flow is controlled by a slotted ball along with rubber O-rings and spring loaded rubber seals. Ball faucets leak more than other washerless technologies because there are several different things that can go wrong. The rubber seals can dry out, the springs can weaken, or the O-ring can dry out.

Ball valves are very easy to repair, but you’ll need to buy a repair kit specifically designed for your model. Kits are not expensive and they’ll include everything you need to do the repair, including instructions.

And finally: Cartridge faucets.

With a single handle, cartridge faucets look just like ball faucets. To tell the difference you’ll need to test how it feels when you turn on the water. While a ball valve is opened by pressing back, a cartridge valve must be operated in an up/down motion.

Similar to a ball faucet, you’ll have to purchase a kit specifically packaged for your model.

First you’ll need to remove the handle. Often times the screw is hidden under a plastic cap or sticker. Next, remove each part one at a time and set them in order on the counter for easy re-installation. After you have removed the retaining nut, use a flathead screwdriver to pry out the copper clip holding the cartridge in place.

To loosen and remove the cartridge, use the white plastic tool that comes with the repair kit. Be sure to grease the O-rings on the replacement cartridge before sliding it into place. Once the cartridge is properly seated, snap the copper clip back in place, screw on the retaining nut and put the rest of the faucet back together.

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