The Leaky Faucet and Your Home’s First DIYs

By mattherndon, April 23, 2013

leaky_faucet

Home ownership is a source of great pride for people, and it is as much an investment as it is a place where you live. Learning how to do some of the simpler repair jobs and other projects around the house can save you a considerable amount of money. At some point, your DIY skills may allow you to get something fixed immediately and not have to wait until business hours or until a repairperson is available to do it for you. One of the easiest projects for anyone doing DIY jobs to tackle is the repair of a leaky faucet.

Types of Faucets and Faucet Combinations

There are several different types of faucets and faucet combinations, including faucets that have either double or single-handled shut-off, faucets that use compression and washerless faucets. Washerless faucets are those that use a cartridge, a ball valve or a disc mechanism. Compression faucets use rubber washers that tighten and loosen to allow water to flow or to stop the flow. The flow of water in cartridge faucets is controlled by opening or closing brass or plastic valves.

Before Starting

Before starting the repair, make sure the drain is closed. This will prevent any small parts from getting lost in the drain. Next, try to locate the leak. Shut off the water supply to the sink before proceeding further.

  • Examine the Faucet The handle of the faucet that has a ball valve sits on the dome part of the ball valve. The faucet and ball are attached with a setscrew. You will need to use an Allen wrench to loosen the screw. Once you’ve done that, you can remove the handle.
  • If the Leak is Coming From the Base of the Spout You will need to have a special ball valve faucet repair kit. The kit comes with a spanner wrench, among other tools. If the leak is coming from the base of the faucet, you may be able to stop the leak simply by using the spanner wrench to turn the locking collar clockwise. This should tighten the collar enough to stop the leak. If the leak stops after you tighten the locking collar, finish the job by putting the handle back onto the faucet.
  • Checking the O-Rings for Faucet Base Leaks You will have to remove the faucet head or spout to see the O-rings. Worn-out O-rings can cause the faucet to leak. Use the hook of your spanner wrench to pry the O-rings free and then remove them. Coat the new O-rings thoroughly with plumbers grease. Then use the spanner wrench to put them back so they fit perfectly. This should stop any leaking caused by bad O-rings.
  • If the Leak is Coming from the Spout When the leak is coming from the faucet spout, you will have to take the faucet apart. Before you do that, make sure that the water shut-off valves under your sink are closed. Before using your slip-joint pliers, wrap the jaws of the pliers so the teeth don’t scratch the chrome on the faucet. Twist the dome cap off and remove it. Then you will need to remove the plastic cam and cam washer. Now you can remove the ball valve to inspect it for wear and tear.

Once you’ve removed the outer parts of the faucet, you will see the watertight seal that is created by two rubber valve seats when they rub against the ball valve. Use a screwdriver to snare them and then remove both of the valve seats. If the rubber is worn out, replace the valve seats. Take your screwdriver and line up the new springs and valve seats. Then carefully drop them back into their former position. Use your thumb or forefinger to push them firmly into place. This should stop the leak if it is coming from the end of the faucet spout.

When reassembling the faucet, be sure to follow the correct order. Start with the spout, then the ball. Next, insert the plastic cam and cam washer back where they were. Finally, put the domed cup back. Once the faucet is reassembled, tighten the collar ring with the spanner wrench. The last thing you need to do is reattach the handle. Don’t forget to turn the shut-off back on. Do one final check of all of the parts of the faucet to make sure nothing is leaking.

By doing simple repairs like this one yourself, you can save yourself from having to pay a plumber to do it for you. Purchase a ball valve repair kit so you have it on hand at all times for these types of repairs.

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