If your kitchen faucet is dripping, it’s not only annoying, it can be expensive. In addition to raising your water bill, the drips can possibly damage the surface of your sink. But a simple leak is easy enough to diagnose and repair – you just have to know what to look for.
When is a drip just a drip?
Faucets can leak for a number of reasons from a number of places. Take a look to see where the water is coming from – the handle? the spout? – to help you reduce guilt.
If your faucet is dripping from the handle, it could be:
- O-ring. There is a small rubber disc attached to the stem screw that holds the faucet handle in place, known as an O-ring. A loose or worn O-ring will cause drips; replacing the O-ring should fix your problem.
- Loose nuts. Over time, the packing nut in the stem screw can become loose, causing leakage. Check to see if the packing nut needs to be tightened or replaced.
Matters with a nozzle
If you see a leak around the spout area, it could be from:
- Corroded valve seat – the area that serves as a connection between the faucet and the nozzle in a compression mechanism. Clean the valve seat to get rid of accumulated water sediments.
- Worn wax – these rubber discs wear out over time due to constant friction and resistance. Washers can also cause leaks if they have not been installed properly or are not the right size.
Assemble your tools
Most faucet investigations and repairs require tools you already have around the house:
- Adjustable wrench or C-wrench
- Phillips and/or flat head screwdriver
- WD-40, CRC, or other penetrating oil
Later, you may have to take a trip to the hardware store to buy replacement washers or O-rings. Make sure you buy the right sizes – bring the old ones with you for reference.
First, the most important step
Before you do anything to your faucet, make sure your water supply is turned off. Run the faucet for a few minutes to empty it, then plug the sink with rags to keep small parts from falling down the drain.
Repair or replace?
If you have assessed the handle and spout and your faucet is still leaking, your pipes may have developed cracks – you will want to hire an experienced plumber to check your water pipes. Or, you can try replacing your entire faucet. Keep the water pressure off and the rag in the drain:
1. Use the adjustable wrench and/or a pair of drain locking pliers to disconnect the water lines from the faucet. If they are old and worn, you may want to consider replacing them with flexible supply lines.
2. Use a basin wrench or socket wrench to remove the packing nut, then disconnect the line connecting the pipe to the faucet, if your sink has one.
3. Pull the old faucet out, clean the surface of the sink to remove any accumulated debris, then align your new faucet with the outside holes of your sink.
4. Seal the new faucet. If using a gasket, place the gasket on the lip of the plate and thread the hoses. If you are using plumber’s putty, apply it around the base of the faucet, then set it in place.
5. Under the sink, thread on the flange and nut. If you are installing a pull-out faucet, add a weight that pulls back the pull-out sprayer.
6. Reattach the supply lines to the faucet and then to the shut-off valves.
7. Turn the water back on. If you find any leaks, tighten the connections on the water supply line – but hopefully your faucet will stop leaking!
Post provided by CroppMetcalfe