DIY: Fix a Leaky Faucet in 10 Simple Steps

A leaky faucet is hardly an emergency, but the constant dripping can be a nuisance and run up your water bill over time. Many of us choose to ignore our leaky faucets because we don't know how to fix them ourselves and don't want to spend money on a plumbing service near Ivyland.

the cost of a leaky faucet infographic

Many faucet leaks have a simple solution that any homeowner can handle with a standard toolset and a quick trip to the local hardware store.

In this blog, we'll explain how you can fix most leaky faucets in just a few simple steps. You'll learn how to safely take apart your faucet, identify the source of the leak, and repair the fixture without having to pay for a plumber.

By following this step-by-step guide complete with handy pro-tips, you can stop any nagging faucet leak and save money doing it.

Before You Begin

Before you start to take apart your leaky faucet, you'll want to do a few things. First, you'll need to identify what type of faucet you have. For most faucets, the repair process is the same: take apart the fixture, identify and replace the broken part, and put it back together again.

You'll also want to take a few extra measures before you begin to ensure you don't lose any parts and that you have the right tools for the job.

Now that you have your tools and know what you're getting into, you can begin taking apart your faucet. Be sure to read each step carefully as damaging certain parts can be costly and require a call to a professional plumber.

1. Locate and Shut off the Water Supply Valve

The first step to fixing a leaky faucet is to locate and shut off your water valve. For many sinks, the valve or valves will be located directly underneath the fixture. Shut off your water valve by turning it clockwise (to the right). Check to make sure the water is off before continuing to the next step.

If you do not see a shut-off valve under the sink, follow the pipes until you find it. If all else fails, you can shut off the main water supply to your home while you repair the leak.

2. Remove the Screw Cover to Expose the Handle Screw

Now that the water to the faucet is turned off, you can begin to take apart the sink fixture to search for the root of the problem. To remove the inner workings of the faucet, you'll first need to access the handle screw. Typically, the handle screw is covered up by a decorative screw cover.

This often looks like an "H" or "C" to indicate the handle controls either hot or cold water. Using a flathead screwdriver or another tool, gently pry off the screw cover to expose the handle screw.

This step may require you to be careful and creative. If you cannot remove the screw cover, a plumber will have to find a way. If you cannot locate the screw cover, search the brand and style of faucet online to identify it.

3 Loosen the Screw and Remove the Handle

At this point, you should have already placed a damp towel or stopper over the drain to avoid losing any parts.

Once the screw cover is removed and the handle screw is accessible, take a screwdriver and carefully loosen the screw. It is crucial that you not strip the screw. Apply steady pressure directly downward on the screwdriver and rotate slowly until it loosens.

After the handle screw dislodges, place it aside and remove the handle. This should uncover the adjustable ring below.

4. Inspect the Adjustable Ring

Before continuing, take a look at the adjustable ring. If it is loose, try tightening it with a pair of needle-nose pliers and check to see if that fixes the leak.

While worn washers or other damaged parts cause most leaks, a simple turn of the adjustable ring may be all it takes to repair your faucet.

5. Remove the Cartridge and Check for Worn or Damaged Parts

If the adjustable ring was not loose or tightening it did not solve the issue, it is time to remove the cartridge underneath the handle to look for the root of the problem.

Using a wrench, loosen the nut on the adjustable ring by turning it counter-clockwise (to the left).

When you remove the cartridge, you'll want to inspect the parts for wear or damage. The washer at the bottom will wear out over time, causing a leak. This is most likely the root of the problem. However, the retainer ring may be worn or damaged as well.

6. Purchase Replacement Part(s) at Your Local Hardware Store

Remove the screw holding the cartridge together, being careful not to strip the screw, and take the washer or other damaged part to your local hardware store to purchase a replacement.

If you are unsure of which part needs to be replaced, take the entire cartridge with you and ask an associate at the store for help. They will likely be able to identify the problem and find the exact replacement part needed.

You may also want to bring the screws you've removed and purchase replacements for them if they are worn as well.

7. Replace the Old Part(s) with the New One(s)

After you've returned home with your replacement parts, you can reassemble the cartridge and begin to put everything back together.

For additional protection against leaks, you can apply a thin layer of plumber's putty to the bottom of the cartridge. This helps to create a tight seal when you tighten the nut and replace the handle.

During this stage, it is once again critical that you do not strip your screws, as the fixture may not seal properly.

8. Put the Faucet Back Together

With the worn and damaged pieces fixed and installed, reattach the handle, handle screw, and screw cover to their original positions.

9. Turn on Faucet, Then Water Valve

At this point, the leak should be fixed. Turn your faucet on before re-opening your water valve. Let the water flow until all air is out of the pipes. You should be able to tell if the leak is repaired or if there is a further issue causing the leak.

10. If the Leak Persists, Give Us a Call

These steps should resolve most common faucet leaks. If this does not fix your situation, you may need to call a plumbing company near Warminster to inspect the leak.

At Ben Franklin Plumbing of Doylestown, PA, we'll gladly inspect your faucet and locate the source of the leak. Give us a call today at (215) 712-8650.