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How to Fix a Leaky Outdoor Spigot

A highly overlooked and neglected fixture of our homes is the outdoor water spigot. Sometimes they can go years without proper servicing. Crazy right?!

All plumbing should be inspected every now and again to ensure the system is working properly and to prevent things like leaks.

As tempting as it is to look the other way when you notice a leak, it’s vital to take care of the situation in a timely manner. 

Ignoring The Problem Can Cause More Damage Than You Think

Not only is your money quite literally going down the drain when you leave a leak to drip away, but it can also lead to ground expansion near the foundation of your home. This can lead to undue pressure on nearby pipes and possible slab leak issues.

Because this type of dripping can go undetected for a long time, it can be especially destructive to your foundation. In some extreme cases, it can even cause the concrete under your home to collapse.

Luckily, if you noticed the leak in the summer, you caught it just in time before the cold set in. This could have lead to a burst pipe!

How to Fix Your Outdoor Spigot

The spigot goes by a multitude of names: sillcock, outdoor faucet, or even a hose bib. These are all one in the same in reference to your outdoor spigot that you will typically use to connect your water supply to your hose.

You may avoid dealing with a leaking spigot under the assumption that it’s going to be a difficult fix. But feel free to set your dread aside. Assuming there is no corrosion, it’s a reasonably easy repair

Here are some useful tools to have handy:

  • Adjustable pliers
  • Phillips and flat screwdriver
  • Wrench 
  • Packing washer or string
  • Seat washer
  • Spray lubricant or penetrating oil
  • Stiff bristle brush

Typically, a leak appears when washers or packing around the handle wear down. To replace this you’ll have to remove the packing nut and replace the old part. Here is a 9 part step-by-step walkthrough of how to do this: 

1. Shut Off Water 

Before you start to take anything apart, you’ll have to turn off the water supply to the spigot. You can do so by either cutting off the water meter or by shutting off the main water supply to your home.   

2. Release Any Excess Water or Pressure

Turn the spigot handle counterclockwise to open and release any remaining water or pressure.

3. Unscrew Packing Nut 

Locate the packing nut beneath the spigot handle. In some cases, the nut will be too tight to unscrew. This is where spray lubricant can come in handy. Apply the lubricant on the area, wait a few minutes, and try again. Repeat as needed. If that’s not loosening it, take your stiff bristle brush and work away any corrosion.  

4. Remove the Valve 

Once you loosen and remove the nut, pull the valve stem out of its faucet housing. Usually, you’ll have to grasp the spigot and supplying pipe turning counterclockwise. Sometimes all you’ll have to do is pull firmly. 

5. Replace the Washer

You’ll find a washer at the end of the valve; pry it out with a flat screwdriver. Replace the washer with a new one of the same size. You’ll see that the new washer will be noticeably thicker. Don’t worry, it’s the right size. That just means the old washer was due for a replacement. Once it’s secured, reassemble the end of the valve.  

6. Replace the Packing Nut 

This step is necessary if you noticed a leak at the handle of the spigot. Unscrew the handle using a Philips screwdriver. Replace the packing nut or string there. Screw the handle back into place. 

7. Reinsert the Valve

Screw or push the valve stem back into place. Tighten the packing nut on the spigot until it’s snug. Turn the faucet handle clockwise to turn it off. 

8. Turn Water Supply Back on 

Go back to your water meter or main water supply to your home and turn it back on. Return to the spigot and turn the handle to on. Let the water run for a moment or two to release any air pressure. 

9. Check for Leaks

Pay close attention to the area near the packing nut and assess for leaks. After that, turn off the spigot and check for any abnormal leaks. 

Enjoy Your Repaired Spigot

There you have it! If you follow the steps above, your spigot will be in great shape! 

What to Do if You Don’t Have the Time or Tools to Fix the Problem

If you’re not up for repairing your spigot on your own, call in the professionals. WM Buffington Company offers an array of plumbing solutions including spigot repairs.

If you’re in and around the Central Pennsylvania area, give us a call! We offer 24-hour services and a free estimate. Let us take care of any and all of your HVAC and plumbing troubles!

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