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What Causes a Faucet to Leak?

Published on:
July 20, 2021

Leaky faucets are a nuisance; besides, you get to pay extra on water bills. Finding out what the causes are and fixing them will save you these troubles. You are just about to find the main reasons and the step wise process to fix a leaky faucet.

Reasons Your Faucet Is Dripping

Below is a detailed outline of 4 main reasons your faucet’s dripping. 

Malfunctioned O-Ring

It’s a common cause, especially for the cartridge faucets. An O-ring is the stem with which a small disc is attached at the base of the handle. Its main purpose is to hold in place the faucet. Due to the regular use of the faucet, the O-ring wears out hence causing leakages. 

Worn out or Improperly Installed Washer

There is friction on the washer during the regular use of faucets as it is always pressed on the valve seat. The friction causes the washer to wear out, and the result is leakage. 

The wrong size and improper installation of the washer is also another reason why your faucet leaks. Always ensure you use the correct size of the washer and hire a skilled plumber to fix it.

Corroded Valve Seats

Leakage of your faucet from the spout area is due to the deterioration from corrosion resulting from accumulated sediments of water. The valve seat being the connection between the spout and faucet, it acts as a compression mechanism, and once it’s worn out, your faucet will leak. 

Damaged Cartridge

 A damaged cartridge is among the main reasons your faucet is dripping, especially if it’s the type with two handles. The cartridge controls the water (hot or cold) flowing to the faucet, and any damage on it causes the faucet to leak.

How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

Now that you are well aware of why your faucet is dripping, the next question is fixing it. Here is a step-wise guide on how to fix a leaky faucet. However, you can seek the services of professionals if you find it difficult to fix it by yourself.

Turn off the Water 

Before attempting any repairs on leaky faucets, turn off the water at the fixture below the sink. If there is not a fixture, turn off the water at the mains. Open to ascertain you shut off the water and to clear the pressure or any drips present before you start disassembling the faucet. This is to avoid flooding your bathroom or kitchen.

Remove/Disassemble the Faucet Handle

The crucial part of this is to note which part goes where and in which order. For standard faucets, remove the decorative caps and unscrew with a flat head screwdriver. After you unscrew, pull the handle to remove it. 

In case there is a set of hex screws, remove them before you pull out the handle. If you realize any difficulty removing the handle, you can use oil for lubrication and loosening the parts.

Remove the Cartridge

Removal of the cartridge or rather the valve stem depends on the type of faucet you are dealing with. For compression, faucets remove the brass stem since it unscrews from the main body. In the case of cartridge faucets, use brass or plastic cartridges to pull them out of the faucet’s body.

For precise removal directions, you can consult with your manual or find the directions online.

Inspect the Internal Parts of the Faucet

Remove and inspect all internal parts that can be removed. This includes rubber seals, rubber washers, O-rings, etc. Thoroughly inspect them to determine those that are worn out.

Replace Worn-out Parts

After inspection, replace the old, damaged, and worn-out parts. If the entire cartridge requires replacement, you can do so to eliminate the leakages. Replacement kits are available in plumbing supply stores, and you can carry the old ones with you to get the exact matches.

Clean all the Valves

With vinegar, clean the valve seat after soaking it to remove the built-up mineral scale. Use a nylon scrub afterward to restore brass to its smooth and shiny state. You can also remove the stopper and drain any debris and dirt therein.

Assemble the Faucet Again

Reassemble the faucet in reverse order as you disassemble it. Turn on the water mains or open the fixtures and check if there is any leakage.

Presented above are the main reasons your faucet is dripping. With it comes a step-wise guide on how to fix a leaky faucet. However, you can seek the services of professional plumbers in case of any difficulties. These professionals are trained to use the most modern and efficient techniques to identify the problem and fix it in no time.

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