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How to Fix a Leaking Faucet

A leaking faucet is not just a minor annoyance; it represents wasted water and can lead to increased utility bills if not addressed promptly. Understanding how a professional plumber would tackle this common household issue can help you decide whether to attempt a DIY repair or call in the experts. Here are the detailed steps a professional plumber takes to diagnose and fix a leaking faucet, and when it might be time to call Rapid Response Plumbing.

how to fix a leaking faucet in your home

Understanding the Problem

The initial step in addressing a leaking faucet is to accurately identify the type of faucet installed in your home. Faucets come in a variety of styles, each with its unique mechanism and corresponding repair method. The most common types include compression, ball, disk, and cartridge faucets, and understanding the distinctions between them is crucial for effective maintenance and repair.

  1. Compression Faucets: These are one of the oldest and most straightforward types of faucets. Compression faucets function using rubber washers or seals that close against a valve seat inside the faucet assembly. Each time the faucet is used, the washer presses against the valve seat, and over time, this constant pressure wears the washer out, leading to drips and leaks. To fix a leak in a compression faucet, these washers need to be replaced, which involves dismantling the faucet handle and accessing the valve seat.
  2. Ball Faucets: This type of faucet is washerless and uses a ball bearing to control the flow and temperature of the water through a single handle. The handle moves a ball-shaped cap right above the base of the faucet spout, which aligns holes in the ball with the faucet’s water inlets to regulate water flow. Ball faucets are prone to leaks that usually originate from worn O-rings or ball bearings, and repairing them can involve replacing the entire ball unit or just the damaged parts.
  3. Disk Faucets: Known for their reliability, disk faucets feature a single lever over a wide cylindrical body. Inside, they use a pair of ceramic disks in a sealed cartridge. One disk remains stationary while the other moves with the lever to align or obstruct water flow paths, controlling both volume and temperature. Disk faucets typically have a longer life since ceramic is durable, but sediment build-up can cause the disks to wear and develop leaks. Fixing these usually requires lifting the moving disk to clean out debris or replacing the entire disk unit if the wear is extensive.
  4. Cartridge Faucets: Cartridge faucets can come with either one or two handles, but their identifying feature is the cartridge system inside, which moves up and down or side to side to regulate water flow and temperature. They are simpler to repair than ball faucets as the cartridge is usually easy to replace. These faucets don’t use washers, which can significantly reduce the frequency of leaks.

Properly identifying which type of faucet you have is essential, as it dictates the repair process. Each faucet type has its own unique construction and mechanism, and knowing the specifics can save time and ensure that the correct method is used to fix any leaks effectively. This knowledge can also help in maintaining your faucet better over time, extending its lifespan and ensuring smooth operation.

Tools and Materials Needed

Professional plumbers come prepared with a comprehensive toolkit, but for a basic faucet repair, the following tools and materials are usually sufficient:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers
  • Replacement washers and O-rings
  • Penetrating oil (like WD-40)
  • Plumber’s grease
  • Replacement cartridge or discs, if necessary

Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing a Leaking Faucet

Step 1: Shut Off the Water Supply

Before starting any repair work, it’s crucial to ensure no water can flow to the faucet. This is what you should do:

  • Locate the shut-off valves under the sink.
  • Turn the valves clockwise to close them. If these aren’t visible, you may need to shut off the main water supply to the house.

Step 2: Plug the Drain

Prevent small parts from disappearing down the drain by securing the drain area.

  • Use a sink plug or a rag to block the drain.
  • Ensure it’s secure to prevent any small screws or washers from slipping through.

Step 3: Remove the Faucet Handle

Access the internal components of the faucet by removing the handle.

  • Locate the screw securing the handle, often hidden under a decorative cap.
  • Gently pry off the cap if necessary.
  • Use penetrating oil on the screw if it is corroded to help loosen it.

Step 4: Identify the Source of the Leak

With the handle off, you can see the moving parts and identify what needs fixing.

  • For compression faucets: Look for a worn-out washer.
  • For ball, disk, and cartridge faucets: Check for damaged seals or O-rings.
  • Determine which parts are faulty and need replacement.

Step 5: Replace the Faulty Parts

Address the root cause of the leak by replacing damaged components.

  • Materials Needed:
    • Replacement washers or O-rings
    • Replacement cartridge or discs (for non-compression faucets)
  • Remove the old parts and install the new ones in their place.

Step 6: Reassemble the Faucet

Put everything back together and ensure it’s assembled correctly.

  • Follow the disassembly steps in reverse order.
  • Ensure all parts are secure to prevent future leaks.

Step 7: Test Your Work

Confirm that the repair was successful.

  • Turn the water supply back on.
  • Operate the faucet to check for leaks.
  • Ensure smooth operation and verify that the leak has stopped.

When to Call a Professional

While many leaks are straightforward to fix, there are times when it’s wise to call in a professional plumber:

  • When multiple attempts to fix the leak have failed.
  • If the faucet is old and parts are corroded or difficult to move.
  • If there is no visible source of the leak, suggesting that the issue might be more complicated than just a worn-out washer or cartridge.

Calling Rapid Response Plumbing

At Rapid Response Plumbing, we understand the frustration of plumbing issues like a leaking faucet. Our Atlanta based team of certified and experienced plumbers is equipped to handle any plumbing problem, big or small, ensuring that your household’s plumbing runs smoothly with minimal disruption. If you’re struggling with a faucet leak and need professional assistance, don’t hesitate to call us. Our prompt, efficient service will ensure that your problem is resolved quickly and effectively. Reach out today to schedule a consultation or service appointment.

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