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How to repair a washer-type faucet

REPAIRING A LEAKY WASHER-TYPE FAUCET

  • Washer-type faucets work with a rubber or composition washer that closes onto a metal washer seat (Fig. 1). The washer can become hardened, worn or the seat wears, causing the faucet to leak. You can close the faucet tighter to stop the leaking temporarily, but this increases the internal damage to the faucet.

  • To repair the leak, first turn off the water. If there's a shutoff valve beneath the fixture, turn off the water at that point. Otherwise, turn it off at the main house shutoff valve in the basement, utility room, or crawlspace. Turn off the hot water supply at the water heater.

  • Take the faucet apart by removing the handle (this may not be necessary on some older faucets). Loosen the Phillips-head screw, which usually is beneath a decorative cap in the center of the handle. The cap either unscrews or snaps off when you pry it with a knife blade. If you must use pliers on decorative faucet parts, pad them with electrical tape or cloth to protect the finish. And take special care with the plastic parts found on many modern faucets. Next, lift or pry the handle off its broached stem. Unscrew the packing nut beneath the handle, exposing the rest of the stem. Remove the stem by rotating it in the "on" direction. It will thread out. Reinstall the handle if you have difficulty turning it (Fig. 1). Clean chips from the faucet cavity, but do not use harsh abrasives or a file.

  • Examine the stem. If the threads are badly corroded or worn, take it to your retailer and get a new stem to match. Clean the stem if it's dirty.

  • Now look at the washer, which is located on the lower end of the stem and held in place by a brass screw. If the washer is squeezed flat or has a groove worn in it, replace it–this should stop any dripping. Take the washer with you to your dealer to ensure an exact match in size and style. If the brass screw is damaged, too, replace it with a new brass screw.

  • The washer seat is located inside the faucet body. You probably can't determine if the washer seat is causing the leak just by looking at it. Any faucet that needs frequent washer replacement obviously has a damaged seat. The seat should either be refaced with a seat-dressing tool. A seat-dressing tool is not costly. Every home with washer-type faucets needs one. Use the tool according to the manufacturer's directions, placing it in the faucet along with the packing nut. Then rotate (Fig. 2) until the seat is smooth, and blow out the chips.

  • Some washer seats can be unthreaded and replaced. Check the faucet body with a flashlight to see if it has a square or hexagonal hole through its center or is slotted for a screwdriver; if so, it is replaceable. However, if the seat simply has a round hole through its center and no slots, it is not replaceable. In this case, dress it with a seat-dressing tool. To replace it, you'll need a faucet seat wrench, which comes with a combination of square and hex heads to fit most faucet seats. Turn the washer seat counterclockwise to loosen, clockwise to tighten (Fig. 3). Add a little silicone rubber sealant (RTV) or pipe joint compound around the threads of the seat before you install it to make it easier to remove during future repairs.

  • It's important to install the correct type of faucet washer (Fig. 1, bottom). A swiveling washer (C) is preferable to either (A) or (B). To install washer style (C), file the shoulder off the end of the stem, drill out the threads of the screw hole. Instead of rubbing against the seat as it closes, a swiveling washer closes with a straight-down, frictionless action – this allows it to outlast fixed washers.

  • Following this seat and washer service, your faucet should be like new. Put the parts back together in the reverse order of taking them apart. Spread a bit of petroleum jelly or silicone grease on the threads of the stem to lubricate the faucet's action.

  • If the faucet leaks around the stem rather than from the spigot, install new packing. You may want to install one of the newer nylon-covered or graphite-impregnated packings–their lubrication allows the faucet handle to turn more freely. Wrap one turn of this packing around the stem just beneath the packing nut (Fig. 1). Use three complete wraps if you're applying string-type packing. Some stems use O-rings, rather than packing. For these stems, replace the O-ring with a matching one to stop a leak. Hand tighten the packing nut, then tighten it another half-turn.

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1 Answer

We have a steadily dripping tap. Can you please help? thank you.


You don't say anything about what kind of faucet you have, so this may not apply. But if yours is the kind with handles you turn to control the water, you probably have worn-out compression washers. In this kind of faucet, water is shut off by pressing a rubber washer on the end of a threaded stem against an opening in the faucet body. When you turn the handle, you move the washer away from its seat and the water can flow. Over time the washer gets worn and no longer seals off the water. Also, the valve seat the washer presses against can wear and allow water to sneak past the seal. The result is that annoying drip or a steady trickle.

This site, among many others, shows how to change a washer and fix most drippy faucets. If you search for "repair a leaky faucet" you'll find lots of sites to pick from, including many with videos. If you faucet is not a compression type, a single-lever cartridge for instance, there are links to other repair procedures.

If your faucet is old and the parts very badly corroded and worn, you might want to fix the leak by replacing the entire stem as a unit. You can find replacement stems for most brands of faucet at big-box home improvement stores and at many hardware store. It's a little more expensive, but often much easier to unscrew the old one and pop in the new than to start trying to get the old washer off the stem.

A last tip: Whenever you do any work on a faucet, remove the aerator from the spout and run the water to help clear the line. If you just turn the water back on and run the faucet, debris that was kicked up during the repair can clog the aerator screen. Then you're left wondering why you get only a weak trickle or no water at all after you fixed the trouble.

Mar 10, 2011 | Microwave Ovens

1 Answer

dripping faucet


first step would be to change the rubber washer or o ring.
  1. buy a proprietary washer kit from any DIY store.
  2. Turn water off at isolating valve on teh pipe underneath the sink / bath or at the mains and or hot water tank as appropriate
  3. Remove the top of the faucet (often there is a plastic circle at the top that prises off to reveal a screw - mixer taps may have a grub screw on the side)
  4. Gently using a wrench to loosen the nut unscrew and remove the tap (faucet) barrell (middle bit)
  5. Remove nut that holds washer in place and remove it or, in the case of an O ring - prise it off with a pin or needle.
  6. Reassemble in reverse order - do not over-tighten.
If that doesn't stop the drip then the seat that the rubber washer / O ring seals against may be pitted or grooved. Either buy or hire a 'tap (faucet) seating tool.
  1. Turn off water before opening the faucet
  2. dismantle faucet as above
  3. Find which of the sleeve adapters that comes with the seating tool is teh right one to screw into the top of the faucet body
  4. select the grinding disc that is closest to the size of the seat and screw it onto the end of the seating tool
  5. Screw the tool into place in the top of the faucet body - just finger tight.
  6. Pressing down firmly with even pressure (but not too hard) on the top of the seating tool rotate the handle backwards and three or four complete rotations.
  7. reassemble the faucet but DO NOT close the faucet off
  8. slowly turn the water back on and allow it to flow hard for a few seconds to flush and debris out of the spout
  9. Slowly close the faucet and check for leaks.
  10. If necessary repeat re-seating process

Feb 27, 2011 | Home

1 Answer

Leaky Tub Faucet (Antique Reproduction)


sometimes check the faucet screws they come loose or if they are old you might want to replace the whole diverter, take them to lowes or home depot and have them guys in the plumbing department hook you up. trust me you are opening a can of worms with rubber valve seats just get new ones. Make sure before pulling you cut off water supply to them.

Jul 20, 2010 | Home

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