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Stop the drop: DIY tips for fixing a leaky faucet

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How to fix a leaky faucet (Photo: Shutterstock)
  • Learn how to fix a leaky faucet.
  • Don’t spend money a plumber.
  • It’s a simple DIY project.

Dealing with a leaky faucet is a common issue, but with a little know-how, it’s a problem that you can often fix yourself.

Equipped with a few essential tools like a screwdriver and an adjustable wrench — along with some patience and attention to detail — you can tackle this task effectively.

This step-by-step guide will help you diagnose the problem, identify the type of faucet you have and walk you through the repair process.

By following these instructions, not only will you stop the irritating drip and save water, but you’ll also gain valuable DIY skills.

The first step to a successful repair

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Photo: Shutterstock

The initial step in repairing a leaky faucet is to accurately identify the type of faucet you are dealing with.

The most common types include compression, cartridge ceramic disk, and ball type faucets — each with its unique mechanism and internal structure.

Compression faucets typically have two handles, one for hot and one for cold water — whereas cartridge, ceramic disk and ball types can feature either single or double handles.

Understanding the specific type of your faucet is essential.

Gathering tools and shutting off water

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Before starting the repair, it’s important to gather all necessary tools and materials to ensure a smooth and successful process.

Common tools for this task include a flathead or Phillips screwdriver, an adjustable wrench and potentially replacement parts like O-rings or washers, depending on the type of faucet and nature of the leak.

It’s crucial to turn off the water supply before beginning the repair; this is usually done via the valves located under the sink.

Additionally, to prevent small screws or parts from falling into the drain during the repair, cover the sink drain with a cloth or a sink plug.

Addressing a leaky compression faucet

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Photo: Shutterstock

Repairing a leaky compression faucet involves a few clear steps, starting with removing the handle, which is often secured by a screw located under a decorative cap.

Once the handle is off, use an adjustable wrench to unscrew the packing nut, revealing the valve stem beneath, which is the likely source of the leak.

At the bottom of the stem, you’ll typically find a washer or O-ring, which can become worn out and cause leaking. Replacing this part is often all that’s needed to fix the leak.

After replacing the washer or O-ring, put everything back together, turn the water supply back on, and check to ensure the leak has been successfully fixed.

Fixing a cartridge faucet

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Photo: Shutterstock

To repair a cartridge faucet, begin by carefully removing the handle, which may require loosening a set screw depending on your faucet’s design.

Once the handle is off, you’ll need to remove the retaining clip or nut to access the cartridge inside the faucet.

The cartridge, often the culprit in a leaky faucet, should be carefully pulled out and inspected for any signs of damage or wear, and replaced if necessary.

In addition to the cartridge, it’s wise to examine and replace the O-rings if they appear worn or damaged before reassembling the faucet and turning the water back on to test for leaks.

Addressing leaks in a ceramic disk faucet

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When fixing a ceramic disk faucet, the process begins with removing the handle and the escutcheon cap to expose the disk cylinder underneath.

After removing the cylinder, check the neoprene seals at the bottom. These seals are a common cause of leaks in ceramic disk faucets and may need to be cleaned or replaced

If the seals are dirty, cleaning them may resolve the issue, but if they are damaged, replacing them is necessary to stop the leak.

Once the seals are dealt with, reassemble the faucet, restore the water supply, and check the faucet to ensure that the repair has been successful and that the leak has stopped.

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