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Leaky Faucet Repair

By Jim Sulski

Summary: Leaking faucets are annoying but easy to fix. Repairing a leak is simple with these instructions.

In addition to being a waste of water, a leaky faucet is also an annoyance. Repairing a leaky faucet, however, is a fairly simple task, even for those do-it-yourselfers who are inexperienced with plumbing.
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The key to repairing faucets is the inexpensive repair kits, which contain all you need to repair and rebuild a faucet.

The kits cost a few dollars, which is better than the price of a new faucet.

No matter where the faucet is leaking, it's worthwhile to rebuild the entire fixture once it's apart to prevent any future leaks.

To buy the correct repair kit, you'll need to know the manufacturer of the faucet as well as its type: Washerless or cartridge.

If you don't know what type of faucet you have, take it apart and take the various parts into you local hardware store to match them up.

Before you disassemble a faucet, however, close both the hot and cold water shutoff valves that are hopefully located under the sink.

Then, plug the drain with a stopper so that you don't lose any parts. Cover the sink with a towel to prevent damage in case you drop a tool.

As you take the faucet apart, note how it disassembles so that you can rebuild it correctly.

What follow is a guide to repairing the two most common types of faucets:


Washerless faucets are one of the most common type of faucets on a kitchen sink. They're usually controlled with one handle that mixes the hot and cold water.

Start the repair by determining where the leak is coming from: Around the handle or the spout.

If it's around the handle, you'll need to tighten the body cap on top of the spout sleeve. Use an allen wrench to remove the handle by loosening the set screw in the handle and pull the handle up.

Then, use a pair of slip nose pliers to tighten the cap clockwise until the leak stops. Wrap a piece of cloth around the jaws of the pliers as not to strip the chrome from the cap. There is also a cap wrench you can buy specifically to remove the cap.

If the leak is coming from the spout, you'll need to rebuild the faucet. Remove the handle and the cap. Below the cap should be a rubber and nylon cam, followed by a seal, followed by a stainless steel ball with a stem. Pull these out of the spout collar.

Below will be two small rubber seals covering a couple of springs. There will also be a pin - more about that later.

Remove the seals and pull the springs out with a pair of long-nosed pliers. Place the old springs and seals to the side so you don't get them mixed up with the new parts.

Then, pull up gently on the spout until it comes free of the faucet body. Cut the old O-rings with a knife and put new O-rings in their place.

Then, place the new springs and seals into the seats, with the flared ends of the seals on top.

Next, put the new ball in the spout, lining the slot in the side of the ball with the pin in the inside of the faucet body. Replace the spout and put the new cam and seal inside the faucet, lining up the tab on the cam with the slot on the top of the spout sleeve.

Finally, tighten the cap and replace the handle.


A Cartridge-type faucet is another washerless faucet that is similar to a seat-and-spring unit, except it has a core or cartridge instead of a ball.

At the top of the faucet will be a coverplate. Remove it with a screwdriver to expose the handle screw. Loosen the handle screw, lift up the cap and spout sleeve, and look for a brass clip that locks the cartridge in place.

Pull the clip out with needle-nose pliers, and then remove the cartridge and replace it with a new cartridge. Make sure to align it with the tabs in the faucet body.

Replace the clip and the O-rings below and put the rest of the faucet back together.

© June 22, 2005.

NOTE: This column is distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, Illinois, 60022. This column may not be resold, reprinted, resyndicated or redistributed without written permission from the publisher. 

2005 by Ilyce R. Glink. Distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate.




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