There is a classic Donald Duck cartoon that starts with Donald sleeping on a bus. Then, for some reason, he is kicked off the bus and is exhausted. Once he finally makes it home, he heads straight to bed. Only to be awoken by a neon sign, you guessed it, a leaky faucet. He tries everything to get the dripping to stop and fails miserably until finally, his water is shut off by his landlord. In turn, solving his problem for the short term, but not before driving him mad. For anyone that hasn’t seen that cartoon, one, it is weird. It came out in 1948, so I didn’t spoil anything for you. But second, it is very relatable if you have ever been kept up at night by a leaky faucet. So unlike Donald, we will teach you how to fix a dripping faucet.
Did you know that a leaky faucet can waste gallons of water daily? Not only will this put a dent in your wallet, but we are in a drought, if you haven’t heard. So you want to fix it. Also, as mentioned above, the dripping can be very annoying.
I know that fixing the leaky faucet yourself may seem daunting at first. Especially if you have never learned how to fix a dripping faucet. But I assure you, the worst part usually is just trying to find replacement parts. So if you are up to DIY and probably a few trips to the hardware store. We got you.
I know that seems obvious, but you would be surprised. But trust us, you do not want to make matters worse and flood your kitchen. So before starting your sink repair, turn off the water supply for the faucet. To shut off the water, look for fixture shutoff valves under the sink and turn them clockwise. If your faucet does not have shutoff valves, you will need to turn off the main water supply to your house. You can check that the water is off by turning the faucet on; if no water comes out, you are ready to DIY this leaky faucet!
Once the water is off, it is time to investigate. There can be multiple reasons for a leaky faucet. Here are some common ones:
Bad Valve Seal
To get started, you will need to disassemble the faucet handles. To do this may vary depending on your type of fixture. For most standard fixtures, use a flathead screwdriver to remove the caps on the handle. This will allow you to get to the screws on the handle. Unscrew the screws and take the handles off.
Once the faucet handle is removed, you will want to remove the inner valve stem or cartridge. Again, depending on the type of faucet. Some faucets have a brass valve stem that can be unscrewed. These are called compression faucets. If it has a cartridge faucet, you can pull it straight out. If you run into any issues, lean on your faucet manual if it is handy or look up specific faucet instructions online.
Now that you have everything out, you will want to take inventory of everything. Determine what looks like it may need to be replaced. Look for wear & tear or anything that may be corroded. Closely inspect the washers, O-rings, and seals.
After you have completed your inspection and determined what needs to be replaced, now is the time to hit up your local hardware store. The best and most efficient way is to bring all of the old parts you are replacing with you so that you can match them up exactly with the new parts. Trust us, don’t just go off your memory or a picture on your phone. If you do that, we can guarantee that you will make a second trip to the hardware store.
Before you put everything back together with the new parts, you will want to clean everything. Especially the stem or cartridge. Typically, there will be mineral buildup on those you want to clean. The best way to do this is to pour vinegar over the valve and let it soak for a few minutes. Then really get those DIY elbows in there and scrub it clean.
Now that everything is cleaned, it is time to put everything back together with the new parts. Just reverse the steps that you went through to take it apart. Once the sink repair is completed, turn back on the water and check for any leaks.
If, after all of that DIY, you still have a leaky faucet. You may have corrosion in your valve seat. This can happen if it is not cleaned up over time. Or you may have a more significant broken plumbing issue requiring you to hang up your DIY pants and call a plumber.
We hope that is not the case and the steps above have taught you how to fix a dripping faucet, and you can rest easy.