How To: Fix Leaky Faucet

Fix Leaky Faucet for $3 or less (really, that is about all it costs).

Drip…..Drip….Drip. We’ve all been there before. It started as a single drip several weeks ago and now is a full blown dripping faucet.

You tried the Band-aid Fix It technique – you cranked it on quickly and then shut it off quickly…..Ha, fixed that one!

Fix Leaky Faucet - CHECK - on to the next project.....


So, now what? Call the plumber? For a faucet? Absolutely not! This is a project you can tackle yourself and successfully fix the leaking faucet for about $3.

I realize this can be rather intimidating. I was fixing a faucet one time and forgot to turn off the water underneath the sink. Look OUT! I had the Old Faithful Geyser in my Bathroom. It also broke a light – yes, the water was that powerful.

So, I know it can be a little intimidating. After all, water and houses really don’t mix all that well. Water damage isn’t good for a house.

My wife gets so nervous that she leaves when I am fixing the faucet. Needless to say, when we (I) rehabbed our bathroom she was no where to be seen.

So, what do I do when I have 'Fix Dripping Faucet' or 'Fix Leaky Faucet' or 'Fix Running Faucet' on my 'honey do' list?

The problem with a leaking faucet isn’t all that bad. What ails most leaking faucets is the rubber cap or the spring inside of the faucet has worn out and simply need to be replaced.

No, You won’t need to buy an entire faucet, however, I do cover how to Replace faucet on a different page.

Here is a list of tools you'll need for the fix leaky faucet project. Click on the link below to pick up the right tools for this job.

(by the way, these are the actual tools that I use...I like Quality tools that are Cheap)

1) Screwdriver – both Phillips and a flathead – you won’t know which one your faucet uses until you get in there. Use the Boy Scout motto and ‘be prepared’.
2) Pliers/Adjustable Wrench

Here is How to: "Fix Leaky Faucet":

Step 1:
What brand of faucet do you have? Every faucet has a little different ‘plumbing’ to it – meaning that the spring and rubber cap inside the faucet are different depending on the brand of faucet you have. Your first step is to identify your brand of faucet.

Step 2:
Buy the parts: You’ll need to go to your local hardware store pick up your replacement spring/rubber cap combo set. They usually come in a smaller box (about the size of a AA battery box – the 4 pack size) and you’ll have 2 springs in there as well as 2 rubber caps.

Step 3:
Turn off the water: open the cabinet under the sink and look for a shut off valve. Typically it is going to be close to where the water hose comes through your wall. You might need a flash light. It can be dark. Don’t be surprised if you find something you’ve been looking for – how did that get there?

Turn the shut off valve toward the right (‘Righty tighty, loosy lefty') – this will shut off the water. You will need to do this for both the HOT and the COLD water lines under the sink.

Test what you have done by turning on the water. What? No water came out? Perfect – Mission Accomplished - CHECK.

Step 4:
Take apart your faucet: Now you’ll need to understand how your faucet comes apart. There are two basic models here – 1 – the kind with only one ball/knob on top, and – 2 – the double handle style.

Knob style: On the top of the knob, where the brand logo usually sits, is a cap. This can easily be pried up with the use of a flathead screwdriver.

Double Handle style: Same goes here – the protective cap will be on the top of the handle. Pop it off with a screw driver.

**NOTE – sometimes these get pretty decorative and are might be a screw in style so feel free to start twisting things – after all, the water is already off – you checkd it...Right?

Now that you have the cap off, you should see the top of a screw. Simply unscrew the screw and the top knob should come off rather easily. Set it aside and hang on to the screw.

Your next step is to grab your adjustable wrench, open it to fit around the nut that is toward the base of the faucet handle and unscrew it.

Again, this nut might be a little more decorative and not look like a typical nut. It could be polished or shiny, however, it will have some flat sides to it that you can ‘grab on to’ with your wrench.

Turn it LEFT – lefty loosy. Once you get it started, it should unscrew relatively easily.

Take off the nut.

The next piece, a plastic/metal rotating piece, might look like it came from a Star Wars movie, however, don’t worry, it will all come out in one piece. Pull it out by pulling straight up. It might help to gently grab it with your pair of pliers

YES, it will be wet inside – this is the area that water comes through.

Step 5:
Take out the old and put in the new: You have successfully dug and found your buried ‘treasure’. Take out the old rubber cap and spring and replace with the new cap and spring.

**pay special attention to the way it was assembled so you can put it back the way it was.

Step 6:
Put it back together: Do step 4 in reverse. Replace the main plastic housing, screw on the nut that held it on, put the handle back on and replace the screw to tighten it all together. You can also put your decorative covering back on as well, however, I usually wait until after I test (in step 7).

Step 7:
Truth or Dare – test what you have done: Turn the water on under the sink and give your handy work a try.

Congratulations! 'Fix Leaky Faucet' Check it off your list.

Overall, this project isn’t as difficult as it might seem at first. I realize it can be intimidating, however, if you just take your time and follow these simple steps, you can 'Fix leaky Faucet' in about 10-15 minutes on your first go around.

So, how does 'fix faucet' rank on the Band Aid Scale of Home Repair?

I'm marking it as a 3.

Band Aid Scale #3

So, why a 3?

The good thing about the fix faucet project is that it doesn't require any specialized technical knowledge or any specific skills like other projects would.

However, with that being said, you are playing with water for this home improvement project. When ever I am playing with water, I understand that there could be more damage (my old faithful water geyser faucet experience).

With these things in mind; the technical challenges being low, the water potential, and being able to do this project pretty quickly (10-15 minutes on the first shot), I give fix leaky faucet a 3.

Congratulations again on a job well done.

What is the next project on your project list. Let me know!
Jeff Hensiek

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