Fix a Leaky Faucet Handle
Having a leaky faucet in your kitchen or bathroom might seem like a huge menace. It not only wastes water but the dripping faucet can cause the faucet body to rust and corrode. This would damage the integrity of your sink faucet and lead to further damage. Additionally, you can also expect your utility bills to get very high, especially if hot water is being wasted from your dripping faucet. However, a leaky faucet handle is not something to be afraid of. You can easily fix it yourself using the right knowledge and a few simple tools.
But before you start to fix a leaky faucet handle, it is important to understand what caused it to leak.
Reasons for a Dripping Faucet
A faucet handle can leak due to multiple reasons. It is better to know some of the most common and important ones to help you fix a leaky faucet.
The cartridge acts like a valve for each handle and it is responsible to control the flow of water from the tap. If your tap is leaking, this means that either a part or the entire cartridge has worn-out and has become damaged. You would have to get some replacement cartridges to fix the leak.
Another reason for a leaky faucet is a broken or damaged washer. Washers are found placed next to the valve seat. As years go by and the tap gets old, the washers get damaged and worn out, hence, leading to a leak. Sometimes, if a washer that is not sized appropriately to your faucet body is installed in it or it has been installed incorrectly can also result in a leak.
High Water Pressure
If the pressure of the water is very high for your tap to entertain, then you can expect to have a leaky faucet.
O-rings are responsible to hold the faucet handles in the correct position. These O-rings are held in place by the help of a stem nut. Just like the washers can get damaged with time, so can the O-rings which will result in your faucet to leak.
Different Types of Faucets
If you have the knowledge regarding the type of faucet present in your house, it can help you determine the correct method of fixing the leak.
Here are the 4 most common types of faucets.
The cartridge faucet is one of the most common types of taps used in bathrooms. These taps usually have two handles, for hot or cold water respectively. The faucet handles have to be moved up and down in order to allow the water to flow. Similarly, the internal mechanism of the faucet also moves up and down to maintain and control the water flow.
The disc faucet is one of the latest types in the market. It costs you more than the other kinds of taps. However, its reliability, durability, and strong quality compensates for the price you have to pay. The faucet body has a single lever for its working which is placed on top of an entire cylinder-shaped structure.
A ball faucet, as its name suggests has a ball joint. This joint controls the flow of hot and cold water from the water supply lines. This type of tap has a single handle. You have to move it up and down to control the water pressure and sideways to control the water temperature.
A compression faucet is an old type of faucet. However, many homes still use such a design in their bathrooms and kitchens. The tap uses washers to create a seal against the water flow. It has two handles that can only move sideways.
Tools Required to Fix a Leaky Faucet
Fixing a leaky faucet is not a very difficult task. All you will need are some tools to get the work done. You can easily find these tools from any hardware store. Here are the tools you shall require.
- Allen wrench
- Allen screw
- Needle nose pliers
- Channel-type plier
- Channel locks
- Pipe wrench
- Normal screwdriver or Phillips screwdriver
- Utility knife
- Old toothbrush or nylon brush
You will also need some materials for repairing the faucet. Different hardware stores carry such materials that you can purchase. The materials include:
- Replacement cartridge or new cartridge
- New O-rings
- Neoprene seals
- Silicone plumber’s grease
- Penetrating oil
Note that if you frequently have to fix any leaking faucets around your house, it is better to keep a supply of such tools and materials in your faucet repair kit. You may also find pre-made faucet repair kits for sale at your local hardware store. Having all the supplies ready at one place can make the repair process a lot more fun and comfortable.
Steps to Fix a Leaky Faucet
Whether you have a leaky compression faucet, a ceramic disk faucet, single handle faucets, or any other kind of faucets with leaky handles, do not worry. Go over these few and simple steps to fix the leak.
Switch off the Water Supply
The first step of fixing your leaking faucet is to switch off the water supply to your leaking bathtub faucet or kitchen faucet by turning off the shutoff valves. These valves are usually present underneath the sink basin. The way these valves can be shut off is by determining the type of valve body present. If your valves have a knob, rotate it clockwise to stop the water supply. If a lever is present, rotate it one-fourth of the way and the water supply will get blocked.
After shutting the water off, dis-assemble the faucet body to get the pressure released and allow the remaining water to flow down the water drain.
Detach the Faucet's Handle
Depending on your faucet’s model, a plastic or a metal cap usually surrounds the mounting screws, present on top of the faucet body. You can use an Allen wrench or a screwdriver to take apart the mounting screws. Get the faucet can loose and prick it out along with the cam washer. Finally, loosen the packing nut and handle screw and pull off the handle from the faucet present on the sink using gentle pressure. Fix the handle screw back in its place to prevent it from getting lost during repairs.
Remove the Faucet Cartridge
After the handle has been detached, you can see the disc cartridge exposed. Some faucets hold the cartridge securely by using a mounting ring or screws. If this is the thing in your case, first unscrew the ring or screw underneath before pulling the cartridge out. Grip the cartridge stem with pliers and pull it out.
After the old cartridge has been removed, check for any cracks or damage. If it is damaged, you would have to replace it with a new one.
Remove the Seals Using Needle nose pliers
Next, use a pair of needle nose pliers to carefully pull the rubber seat and remove the rubber seals located at the bottom of the ceramic disk faucet. With time, the rubber seals get worn out and get covered with dirt and mineral deposits. A seat washer or a rubber washer will also be present at the bottom of the stem. You should replace the seat washer as well during this process.
Clean the rubber seal using a nylon brush or an old toothbrush. Be gentle while cleaning it as you do not want it to get damaged.
Replace the O-ring
Now remove the O-ring from the neck of the faucet’s body. Apply some silicone plumber’s grease on top of a new O-ring. Finally, place this coated O-ring into the groove present on the body of the faucet. Make sure that the O-rings sit properly in place.
Put the Faucet Back Together
Finally, it is time to carefully reassemble the faucet back together. Place the washed rubber seals back into the rubber seats. Insert the ceramic disk faucets’ cartridge back into the faucet’s body. Make sure that the tabs on the ceramic disk cartridge are aligned with the notches present on the body of the faucet. If a mounting cap or screw was present, properly reattach it.
If your faucet has a decorative cap or decorative cover, you would have to replace it. Fix the handle back in place and then replace the decorative cap. Make sure that the mounting screw is securely tightened in place as well.
Turn On the Water Supply
After you have assembled the tap again, turn on the water supply. Position the faucet’s handle in the center and let water flow from it. Examine whether the leak has been fixed or not. If the faucet continues to leak while the water is running, try to slightly adjust and tighten the inner or other replacement parts.
Look at different signs to know whether the faucet’s cartridge is bad. You will see water leaking from the tap handles. There would be some problems while using the lever. It may not work and you might experience a different sensation while operating it. Another sign that would indicate a bad cartridge is that you face trouble in regulating the temperature of water.
Replacing a faucet’s cartridge can cost you anywhere from $175 to $350 if you call a plumber for this work, especially if you replace other worn parts. However, if you can do it yourself, it would cost only the price of the cartridge that you would have to purchase from the store.