how to fix a faucet
Tips & Tricks

How to Fix a Faucet That Is Always Dripping

Dealing with a dripping faucet is an irritating and expensive problem that develops over time. Getting an estimate from a plumber often motivates homeowners to give a DIY project a try. Depending on the severity of the leak, fixing a leaky faucet can be a problematic or quick repair. 

To begin, do your best to assess where the leak is originating. Start by turning off the cold-water supply and see if your tap is still leaking. If the leak is still there, then there is something wrong with the cold-water supply valve. Repeat this process with the hot water supply off and the cold water on to see if it’s still leaking.

After you identified where the leak comes from, here is how to fix a faucet that is always dripping.

1. Gather your tools

Using the right tools can make a world of difference when trying to fix anything. Don’t try to fix a leaky faucet with just your hands, as that will only worsen the problem. Using the wrong tools can also make the experience much more complicated than it needs to be. 

Look for a Phillips-head and flat-head screwdriver to start out. Having a wrench, pliers, and WD-40 on hand will also prove helpful. If you know your faucet’s model, you can gather tools specific to the screws inside. By researching your faucet’s model, you can also have replacement O-rings on the side to help you stop the leak.

2. Turn off the water

Before starting any repair or disassembly, it’s crucial to shut off the water supply completely. Attempting repairs with the water still running increases your chances of making the leak worse. If your sink doesn’t have individual shut-off valves under the sink, you’ll need to shut off water for the entire house. 

Before starting any repair or disassembly of the faucet, allow all the remaining water in the pipes to drain out. You can turn on the tap and allow the water to run out until it stops. Finally, it’s a good idea to use a sink stopper or some type of cover to prevent your tools from falling down the drain hole while working.

3. Remove the tap

To start assessing the leak, begin taking your faucet apart. If you have any decorative attachments on your tap, start by removing them first. Many faucets have a screw behind the handle, which you can use a hex key or Allen wrench to unscrew and remove. 

You’ll need to pry the top cover off some faucets, which works best using a flat head screwdriver. Once the screws are exposed, you can use a Phillips head to continue the disassembly. When all the necessary screws are removed, everything should come apart with a gentle pull. 

At this stage, don’t force anything, or you might end up breaking part of your faucet. If you get stuck, refer to your faucet’s design manual, which will simplify the disassembly process. Otherwise, feel free to contact a plumber for help.

4. Replace the cartridge

If your faucet has independent handles for hot and cold, then your leak may be caused by a malfunctioning cartridge. The cartridge inside your faucet helps regulate water flow. For many people, this component is the cause of inexplicable leaks. 

Older faucets use brass cartridges, whereas most modern faucets will have a plastic cartridge design. Once you secure a replacement cartridge for your faucet’s model, you simply have to remove the faucet and pull out the cartridge by hand. 

If you’re having trouble getting the cartridge out, wiggle it or use pliers to help you pull it out. After replacing the cartridge, reassemble your faucet, turn the water back on and check if the leak has stopped.

5. Clean your faucet

While you have your faucet disassembled, giving it a good clean will help improve performance. With repeat use, hard water deposits buildup inside your faucet over time. Since these deposits are difficult to remove, you can use a soft brush and vinegar to restore your faucet to a new condition.

6. How to Fix a Faucet That Is Always Dripping- Replace the seal and spring

Another potential cause of a leaky sink is the seal and spring. The seal and spring cover the cartridge and prevent water from leaking out. Old seals are no longer able to function correctly. The good news is that they are easy to replace. 

Once you have the cartridge pulled out, you can use a small tool to pull out the spring and seal that rest underneath. You can get replacement parts specific to your faucet from your local home repair store. After you replace the cartridge, seal, and spring, you can begin the reassembly process.

Photo by Andrew “Donovan” Valdivia on Unsplash

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