How to Stop a Leaky Faucet Yourself (And When to Call the Pros)

Leaking Faucet

Drip. Drip. Drip.

We all know the dreaded, drive-you-crazy sound of a faucet that won’t stop dripping. Take leaky faucet repair into your own hands with a few tips and tricks you can try before calling the pros.

Here’s how to handle a few common faucet problems in your Indianapolis home and how to know when the problem is too big for DIY.

How to Troubleshoot a Leaky Faucet: Common Problems

To troubleshoot, first, turn the water off to your sink to prevent flooding as you remove parts of the faucet. You can find the shut-off valves under the sink, attached to the hot and cold water supply lines. To shut off the water supply, turn the valve handles clockwise until they don’t turn anymore. If your sink doesn’t have shut-off valves, you’ll need to turn off the flow at your main water shut-off.

Pro tip: plug your sink or put a towel over the drain to avoid losing tools and faucet parts down the sink while you work.

Your faucet may leak from a few different places.

Sink Faucet Leaking from the Tap

This is the traditional, annoying drip from the spout of your faucet. Even though the water is coming from your tap, the problem is likely located under your sink’s handle. Here’s how to fix the most likely problems that cause the tap to drip:

  1. Remove the handle. You may have to pry off a decorative cover to access the screws or push the handle back (on a single-handle faucet).

  2. Check the parts for damage. Make sure nothing inside your faucet’s inner workings is cracked, damaged, or worn. For a compression faucet (those with cylinder knobs instead of handles), check for pitting in the recessed retainer where the washer sits. An uneven or pitted retainer needs to be ground out, a job you should trust to the professionals.

  3. Replace the cartridge. The hard water in Indianapolis can cause the cartridges in a cartridge faucet to go bad before the faucet itself wears out. If the cartridge is bad, you’ll likely have trouble adjusting the sink’s water temperature along with the annoying dripping.
    To replace a cartridge, unscrew the retaining nut and pry out the old cartridge with needle-nose pliers. You can find replacements at your local hardware store. Match your replacement to the size and shape of the original and push it into place with your hand, oriented the same way as the original. Tighten the retaining nut.

  4. Clean off water buildup. Crusty buildup from hard water can interfere with seals. Gently clean any dirty parts with a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water and a soft-bristled brush.

  5. Re-seat the parts. Sometimes, an internal part may have been improperly installed or knocked out of place. Carefully re-seat everything as you reassemble your faucet, to ensure that the parts seal correctly.

  6. Reattach your faucet handle. Screw everything back together and tap any decorative covers back into place.


Leaky Faucet Handle

With this leak, you’ll notice water pooling under your handles when you use the sink, often leaving standing water around your faucet. To fix the leak, remove the handle as instructed above. The most likely culprit for a leaking handle is an old or damaged O-ring or seal. Several types of faucets have a rubber O-ring or seal that wears out with age. Match your new O-ring to the size of your old one. Then, coat the replacement in non-toxic, heat-resistant plumber’s grease, and install it in the same position as the old O-ring.

Repair a Leaky Faucet Stem

Water annoyingly dribbling around the base of the faucet’s stem as it runs can make a mess of your day (and your counter). It can also lead to hard water stains on the faucet base and countertop. Your first step should be to tighten the packing nut. This is the nut located right under the faucet. When you turn the sink handle, it tightens and loosens this nut to allow water to flow. If it gets too loose, water may escape and flood from under the faucet stem. If tightening the packing nut doesn’t resolve the issue, contact your local plumber for help.

Fix a Leaky Faucet in No Time … By Leaving It to the Pros

Sometimes, DIY doesn’t solve the problem. When it doesn’t, the licensed plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Indianapolis – the Punctual Plumber® – can help with timely, expert leaking faucet repair. Call (317) 316-3261 or book an appointment online.