Faucet Drips

Problem: Faucet continues to drip and waste water when turned off.

Background: There are several types of faucets found in homes today, including the washer type, the washerless type, the spring-and-valve type, and the disk type. The repair procedure differs for each type. Be cause replacement parts vary so much, it is best to find a hardware supplier in your area that has re placement part reference books and to work with them to find the parts you need. When possible, try to determine the manufacturer of the unit before you go to the hardware store, and take the old parts along with you for reference. If water is leaking out near the handle, along the stem.

What to do: If a faucet begins to leak, never use excessive force to try to close it because that will only cause damage. Nearly all faucets can be taken apart to replace defective parts. Before beginning to work on a faucet, turn off the stop valves on the hot and cold lines. If you don’t have stop valves, you will have to turn off the main water supply valve and work on the faucet when the rest of the home can get by without water (or have a plumber do the work).
With washer-type faucets, drip ping water is often caused by worn-out washers. Replacement involves taking out the screw in the handle (which may be covered by a decorative cap), taking off the handle, loosening the packing nut, and removing the spindle and washer assembly. A screw holds the washer in place. Re place it with the correct-size washer and reassemble. Note: If washers must be replaced often, it may be a sign that the faucet seat is worn. If the seat is replaceable, install a new faucet seat insert, or reseat (smooth the seat with a seat dressing tool). If a worn faucet seat is not removable, the only option is to use this tool. For other types of faucets, consult product sheets, detailed how-to books, or your local parts supplier.

Special advice: If the faucet that drips is more than 5 years old, you may want to consider replacement rather than repair—unless the original is a high-quality faucet. More ex pensive, quality replacement faucets are generally worth the money; they can last up to three times as long as inexpensive faucets, saving both re placement and labor costs.

Helpful hint: If there are no stop valves near the fixture where a faucet must be replaced, consider in stalling new stop valves at the time of the replacement. They will allow you to isolate the fixture and still have water throughout the rest of the house the next time the faucet needs attention.