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Fixing a Leaky Faucet

By Ben Levy

The most common faucet type is the compression faucet although you may also own a disk or cartridge faucet. The disk or cartridge faucet rarely needs any repair, and when it does require repair it simply means throwing away the old disk or cartridge and dropping in a new one. This short article will give you the basics for fixing a dripping or leaking compression faucet.

Have the following tools and items at the ready: screwdriver, penetrating oil, slip-joint pliers or a wrench, a supply of replacement washers.

Turn off the water supply. You will find your shut off valves under the sink or you may have to shut off the main valve usually found outside your residence.

Next, remove the screw that holds the washer; this screw is usually found under the faucet handle(s) and you may have to first carefully remove a packing nut. Use penetrating oil, if necessary, to loosen the screw. If the screw is stripped or the stem is damaged, replace it.

Slip off the old washer (don't rip the washer in removal because you will need to examine it) and replace it with a new one of the exact same type and fit. Notice if your old washer is a bevel or flat washer ? this is important when selecting a replacement washer. Slip the new washer onto the stem.

Replace the assembly into the faucet and tighten clockwise. With stem in place, screw on the packing nut. Caution; if your faucet is old the metal may be soft. Handle with care. Screw or set the handle in place and set or screw the top button back in place.

Finally, "slowly" turn the water supply on (expect a squealing sound or a sudden jump and then calming of your water pressure). Now, check for leaks. If the faucet still drips or leaks you may have a damaged valve seat.

Replacement of a valve seat can be accomplished; however, this is a bit more complex and calls for a special seat wrench. Fitting a new seat must be done to exact specifications fitting against the washer assembly. Usually, it is best to call a plumber for seat replacement.

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