Replacing a Worn or Damaged Seal in a Faucet

At some time or another, a leaky faucet may be on your list of home improvements and repairs that need to be taken care of. I recently found myself with not one, but two faucets that were both leaking, along with one of them experiencing a constant drip. What many people do not realize is that a single dripping faucet can mean thousands of gallons of water going to waste over a very short period. What else many people do not know is that such issues can often be fixed both cheaply and quickly, by replacing the seals and not the complete faucet setup.

To begin, determine where your water shut off valves are for the faucet in question. The shut off valve may be located nearby the faucet itself, such as underneath a sink, or behind an access panel. The faucet may not have its own shut off valve and you may need to use the shut off valve on the main water supply into the house. Turn it so that it is in an off position, where no water will flow into the faucets you need to disassemble. Once the valves are shut off, turn the faucets to an on position to drain the lines.

Have on hand an assortment of various sized washers. When we recently repaired our two faucets, we first went to the local hardware store and picked up a pack that was specifically listed as a Home Washer Assortment. It not only included various sized washers, it also had an assortment of screws that we found to be helpful when one of the existing screws holding a faucet handle in place snapped in two. Also, have on hand a couple of screwdrivers, most likely a Philips head screwdriver and some lime dissolver if you have hard water.

If you are going to be concerned with debris from the disassembled faucets, or worried about damaging the sink or tub basin if you accidentally were to drop something, you might want to lay some towels or rags behind and around the area you are going to be working.

Remove the faucets and carefully take apart the area where the seals are. Be sure to do this in an orderly fashion, keeping track of where each seal goes. If the inside is coated or stuck together with lime buildup from hard water, it may be necessary to clean the pieces to get them to come apart. Do not pry apart, as this can easily cause more damage than there already is

Replace not only the seals that are clearly damaged, but also all that you feel might be compromised in some way, such as those that appear weather checked with cracks.

Reassemble, and if needed, replace the screws that hold the faucet handles in place. Once all is back together, turn the water valves back to an on position. Check for any leaks immediately upon doing so. If you find that a leak still exists, be sure to double check that all the seals have been replaced properly and that you did not exclude any of the steps in putting everything back together.

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