Faucet Repair Guide

If a faucet still drips after hand-tightening, you need to make some basic repairs.   Most standard faucets have washers which can become worn and cause leaks.   You can replace a washer with help from these instructions.  The materials you will need are available at a hardware or plumbing supply store.  Many new homes have washerless faucets.  Contact the manufacturer, or your local home improvement retailer, for tips on the maintenance of these types of faucets.


To Replace Washer

Step l
Turn off both the cold and hot water supply valves.  Most bathroom and kitchen sinks have shut-off valves underneath the fixture.  Turn the valve clockwise until it is tight.  This shuts off the water to the sink being repaired and doesn't affect water service for the rest of the house.   If your sinks are not equipped with shut-off valves, you may want to have some installed.

Faucet deconstructed

Step 2
Faucet handles usually pull off or have a plastic decorative cap that, when flipped off with a screwdriver, exposes the screw underneath (see diagram).   Remove the screw and lift off the handle.  Using an adjustable crescent wrench, grip the large hexagonal nut and unscrew it to reveal the stem.   If your faucet does not have decorative handles, simply unscrew the already exposed hexagonal nut.

NOTE: Take care not to mar your fixtures.   Put masking tape around visible nuts, stems and handles before handling them with tools.

Step 3
With the hexagonal nut loose, pull out the stem.


Step 4
At the bottom of the stem you will see the washer held in place by a screw.   Remove the screw and replace the washer with one of the correct size.   Be sure to install the new one properly, with its flat side snugly within the rim of the stem, so the screw fits into the round part of the washer's D shape.   Replace the screw.

Step 5
Coat threads of stem with petroleum jelly.

Step 6
Reassemble the faucet by reversing the steps you followed to take it apart.   Be sure the stem is in the open position (water on) when you tighten the hexagonal nut.

Step 7
Turn the supply valves back on.  If the faucet still drips after the repair has been completed, it may be best to call a plumber.

To Replace Packing
If your faucet leaks around the handle only when the water is turned on, you need to replace the packing.  Complete steps 1-3 above.   Look at the hexagonal nut and stem.  The material under the hexagonal nut is the packing.  Put lots of petroleum jelly on a short piece of packing wool and wind the wool clockwise around the stem.   Replace the hexagonal nut and use it to secure the packing.   Complete steps 6 and 7.

NOTE: Take care not to get the packing material and/or petroleum jelly inside the piping of the faucet that carries your drinking water.   The diagram above shows the sections of a common type of faucet.   Contact the manufacturer for maintenance tips on other types of faucets.