Learn how to fix a leaky faucet

Do you have a leaky faucet in your Atlanta home? If you do, you will want to learn how to fix a leaky...

Do you have a leaky faucet in your Atlanta home? If you do, you will want to learn how to fix a leaky faucet or have it repaired as soon as possible. What seems like just an innocent little water drip can add up over time and put a nice dent into your water bill. So, you will need to fix the culprit faucet to avoid wasting water.

How do faucets work?

A faucet has five basic parts: the pipe from the water supply to the tap, a pipe between the duct and faucet, a duct and stopper, a rubber washer to control water flow, and one or more faucet handles. The area of the highest level of pressure is the pipe from the water supply. Water, just like any other liquid, will travel from an area of higher pressure to an area of lower pressure. So, when the stopper moves by either lifting or twisting the faucet handle, the water will move from the pipes and come out of the faucet opening. The more the stopper moves, the stronger and wider the stream will be of the water flowing out.

Why is your faucet leaking?

A faucet leaks when there is a problem with the water-tight seal that prevents water flow when a faucet is off. There are three common types of faucet leaks:

  • Tip of the faucet drip
  • Base of faucet leak
  • Handle leak

These leaks are typically caused by worn parts. The parts typically involved include the washer, valve seat, O-ring or stem unit. You will need to know what kind of faucet you have to repair the problem.

Types of faucets

There are four types of faucets that you may find in your home. Every repair is different based on the kind of faucet you are attempting to fix. The types include the following:

  • Compression faucet: This is the only kind of faucet with two handles, one for hot and one for cold. These are also the only kinds of faucets with washers that typically get worn, necessitating replacement.
  • Ball faucet: The faucet handle, controlled by a ball bearing, turns from hot to cold. These faucets are the most complex and make it harder to pinpoint a leak. Most often, it is best to do a complete replacement kit or to replace the entire fixture.
  • Cartridge faucet: These faucets have a cartridge that moves, controlling the amount of water flow. They sometimes have a decorative cap as well.
  • Ceramic-disk faucet: This is a faucet with a handle that has a ceramic cylinder. These faucets need special care since the cylinder can become cracked.

DIY faucet repair

A leaky faucet is a common household plumbing problem, and sometimes there is a simple do-it-yourself repair. Some leaky faucet repairs will be easier than others, and this will depend on the kind of faucet you have. You will need some tools common to all leaky faucet repairs. These include the following:

  • A Phillips-head screwdriver
  • A flat-head screwdriver
  • Heat-resistant and non-toxic lubricant for plumbing
  • Pliers
  • Wrench

You will also need parts particular to your kind of faucet and leak. Typically replacement parts will consists of washers and O-rings, unless repairing a ball faucet.

Basic guide to faucet repair

This is not a complete guide to faucet repair, but it will give you a general idea of whether you will be able to attempt the repair yourself. There are many how-to-guides and videos that you can find online to help guide you through the repair and teach you how to fix a leaky faucet in more depth. Regardless of the faucet repair, you should always turn off the water to your faucet and plug the drain before conducting any repairs. Also, you should coat all new replacement O-rings and washers with plumber's lubricant before installing.

Compression faucet: First you will need to remove the handles, and then remove the nut with a wrench. Then pull out the stem so that you can see the thin O-ring and thick, rubber seat washer. If the sink was leaking from the handles, you will need to replace the O-ring as it is most likely worn. If it is dripping from the end, you will have to change the seat washer with a new seat washer. After you replace the parts, put everything back together.

Ball faucet: You will need a ball faucet replacement kit for this repair. First, you must remove the faucet handle, cap and collar, cam, washer, ball, inlet seals and springs. Then, you will want to replace the O-rings with new ones. Next, install new springs, valve seats, and cam washers. Finally, put the handle back on.

Cartridge faucet: First, remove the handle, decorative cap if present and retaining clip. Then pull the cartridge straight up and remove the faucet spout. You will need to cut off the existing O-ring to replace it with a new one. Lastly, put the handle back on.

Ceramic disc faucet: Remove the handle, escutcheon cap and disk cylinder. Then pry off the neoprene seals that were under the cylinder and clean the cylinder with white vinegar. Are the seals worn? If so, replace them and then put the handle back on. Take care to turn the water on slowly for the first time to avoid damage to the faucet.

When to call a plumbing professional

Are you uncomfortable attempting a DIY repair or is your faucet still leaking after you tried to repair it? You know what they say, "when in doubt, hire out." Sometimes, it is best to contact a plumbing professional to aid you with a faucet leak, particularly one that is troublesome. A professional will guarantee that you have a working faucet and relieve you from a perpetual drip.

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