Leaky Faucet Repair Guide: What Goes Drip Drip in the Night?

This guide has been prepared for you as a public service, with the assistance of an actual plumber.

This is not a do it yourself guide but rather a reference which should show you where do it yourself ends and skilled, professional help is absolutely necessary. The plumbing system in your house is too complex, and is much to vital and important a function to be left to your own talents, regardless of how skilled a “handyman” you are.

Your plumbing contractor is an experienced specialist, a well-trained, respected member of your community. He or she does not wish to be called to take care of a simple adjustment which you could handle yourself any more than your doctor wishes to be called to treat a nick you get while shaving. On the other hand, you wouldn’t try to set a broken leg yourself. You would call your doctor, of course. Likewise, for the health and safety of your family, your PLUMBER is the ONLY LOGICAL CHOICE> for doing any major plumbing work. With the experience, skill, and special equipment, it is a proven fact that a plumber can do the job more efficiently and economically than you.

Putting an end to the Leaky Faucet

Almost all faucet leaks are caused by failure to turn faucet completely off after using. Eventually this wears out the rubber washer inside the faucet and a leak develops.

Replacing the worn washer is a simple job you CAN do yourself. First, TURN OFF YOUR WATER SUPPLY. Then take a flat-jaw wrench and put adhesive tape over the grooved surface of its jaws to prevent scratching the faucet. Loosen the cap or bonnet through which the “spindle” or valve stem protrudes, then turn the handle in the same direction you would normally turn it to get water, and the entire unit will turn out of the body of the faucet. At the bottom of the spindle you will see a rubber washer with a screw head protruding through it. Remove the screw and replace the washer with another of the same Size, re-insert the spindle and tighten the cap. It may be necessary to remove the handle with a screwdriver in order to replace it in the right position so that it shuts off at the proper angle.


If your faucet does not come apart easily or if it designed different than what I have described above, Call your Plumber. Too, as sometimes happens in faucets that have been allowed to leak for a long time, the washer “seat” (the metal part of the faucet body itself against which the rubber washer fits when the water is turned off) may be worn out and must be resurfaced or replaced. This is a job for your plumber. If the faucet has a renewable seat, as most do, he or she can replace it. Even if the faucet does not have a renewable seat the plumber may be able to resurface the old one, saving you the cost of a new faucet.

In all fairness to your plumbing system, it must be pointed out that BRASS-the basic metal of all plumbing faucets-was in very short supply for several years before and after World War 2. Depending on the age of your home, the faucet that may be giving you trouble now may have been made of war materials during that period. Immediate replacement with an all-brass faucet will not only eliminate the difficulty, but will insure trouble free service for the balance of the life of your house.

Do’s and Dont’s of Faucet First Aid

DO: Turn OFF water supply before repairing, take the faucet apart and replace the washer at the base of the spindle and call your plumber if your faucet does not come apart easily or if replacing the washer does not stop the trouble.

DON’T: Scratch or damage the faucet by using a “naked” wrench-cover the teeth with adhesive tape or use other material between the wrench and the fixture and don’t force any parts that don’t come apart easily.

-content researched through talks with Mr.Rooter, Poirier and LJP plumbing contractors.

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