Faucet Handle Leaks

Problem: Water comes out along the handle of the faucet when it is turned on.

Background: Some faucets, usually old-style units, use either a washer or packing (which looks somewhat like greased yarn) to keep water from escaping along the spindle. In this case, the problem will most likely be with the washer or packing material under the packing nut, not the faucet’s washer.

What to do: If water is leaking around the handle area, remove the handle and try to tighten the packing nut. If this doesn’t correct the problem, remove the packing nut. If there is a washer under it, replace it. If there is no washer, you will need to unwind the old packing and re place it. After wrapping the spindle with new packing material, replace the packing nut. The packing nut will compress the packing material in place. Replace the handle and turn the water back on at the shutoff valve.

Special advice: Mixing faucets, which are used on sinks, laundry tubs, and bathtubs, consist of 2 separate units, with the same spout, that need to be repaired separately. Most packing nuts may be loosened with an adjustable wrench, and most will loosen by turning counter clockwise. (Caution: Avoid using excess pres sure with wrenches because it can cause damage and create the need for new parts.)

Helpful hint: When buying packing material, ask your supplier to see any improved versions in stock. Some newer, nylon-coated materials help faucet handles turn easier and last longer than the older packing materials do.