It’s a sound we dread hearing: the subtle, persistent drip, drip, drip of a leaking sink faucet. You’re not alone if you’ve opted to grin and bear it rather than take the time to actually fix the issue. It seems easier to ignore it, learning to coexist with the seemingly minor annoyance.
A leaky sink faucet can actually cause a lot more issues than you may imagine. But don’t worry! Fixing the problem won’t be as difficult as you might be working it up to be. In fact, it’s a fairly quick and inexpensive fix even a beginner can tackle.
Why It’s Important to Fix That Leak
Sure, the sound of water dripping in the sink can be maddening but there’s more to be concerned about when you notice this issue crop up. It can lead to an increase in your monthly water bill and even further damage to your sink.
Every leak will release a different amount of water depending on the frequency of the drip and the severity of the leak. According to an expert at Appliance Analyst, the average leak will waste around 0.3 gallons of water daily. That totals out to a whopping 9.3 gallons of water monthly. This may not seem like a lot but it can add up over time. And, if your county is in a drought, this could make a larger impact on your neighborhood than you realize.
Remember, this number is just an average. You could see more or less wasted water depending on your situation.
A leaky sink faucet can also cause damage to your plumbing and home. One major issue that could arise is corrosion and rust. Your pipes are equipped to handle water but the other components of your sink are less reinforced. As the continuous stream of water interacts with the metal around your sink, faucet, and handles, it could discolor or damage them.
Depending on the location of the leak, it could also lead to mold or damage to other parts of your home too.
What Causes a Leaking Sink Faucet?
There are a lot of reasons why your faucet might start leaking. There are four different types of sink faucets (cartridge, compression, ceramic disk, and ball type) each with their own distinct functionality. But the issues they encounter do have some overlap. Here are a few common general issues that might cause a leaky faucet.
Improperly installed or worn-out washer.
Worn-out O-ring or neoprene seal.
Corrosion in the valve seat.
How To Fix A Leaking Faucet DIY
Fixing a leaking sink faucet is a fairly straightforward process. It can typically be completed in under two hours. Even a beginner can handle this fix smoothly. You’ll simply need to identify the type of faucet you have and secure the proper tools for the job.
Honestly, if you’re looking to fix a faucet yourself, look up some videos on YouTube that have a lot of likes rather than dislikes. This means that the video most likely solved the problem and was a good tutorial.
Tools and Materials You May Need:
Cloths or rags
Replacement parts for your faucet type
Before starting any project with your sink, be sure to shut off the water supply. There should be a shut-off valve underneath your sink. If there isn’t a valve under your sink you might need to shut off the water supply to your whole house. Now let’s take a look at how to repair a leak for each type of sink faucet.
Off to the side of the handle near the base of the faucet, you’ll see an index cover. Remove this cover to reveal a hex- head screw. Loosen it with a hex-key wrench.
Remove the faucet handle.
With pliers, remove the cap and collar underneath.
Now you’ll see a faucet cam. Loosen it and lift it out with the rotating ball and cam washer.
With needle-nose pliers, extract the springs and rubber seat within the body of the faucet. Lower new springs and rubber seats in their old place.
Put the rotating ball back into its place. You’ll be able to tell if it’s in the correct spot by matching it up with the tab inside the faucet body.
Install a new cam cap and rubber gasket.
Tighten the top cap and faucet handle back into place and tighten the hex-head screw.
Remove the cap at the base of the sink faucet. There will be a screw underneath holding in the handle.
Remove the screw and pull off the handle.
You’ll notice a threaded retaining clip holding the sink cartridge in place. Use a pair of pliers to remove it. You’ll need to pull straight up to get it loose.
Now you can remove the spout and the worn-out O-ring. You’ll need to use a small knife to get it off.
Replace the old O-ring with a new one greased with plumber’s grease.
Replace the entire cartridge with one the same length as the old one.
Reassemble the entire sink faucet.
Ceramic Disk Faucet
When you lift the ceramic disk faucet handle you’ll see a set screw. Unscrew it and remove the handle.
Remove the escutcheon cover and unscrew the disk cylinder mounting screws underneath. Now you should be able to remove the entire cylinder.
Use a screwdriver to remove the neoprene seals from within the cylinder. Replace with new seals.
Clean the opening of the cylinder with a rag and a gentle, non-toxic cleaning solution (or distilled white vinegar).
Reassemble the faucet. When you test the water be sure to keep the water pressure low to start. The pressure build-up from the returning water could be too much for the ceramic disk to handle.
Remove the cover from the handle that seems to be the source of the problem.
Under the cap will be an attachment screw holding the handle in place. Remove this screw and pull off the handle.
Unscrew packing nut.
Next, remove the stem from the body of the faucet. At the bottom of the stem, you’ll see a small rubber seat washer.
Remove the washer and replace it with a new one. Be sure to coat it with plumber’s grease.
You’ll see a packing nut at the top of the stem. Remove it to uncover the O-ring. Replace the O-ring with a new one. It’s vital that you have the correct size or you may encounter other issues down the line. Once you replace the old O-ring, coat it in plumber’s grease.
Reassemble and check for the leak.
If it’s still present, you may need to replace the entire handle set with a new one.
Call In the Professionals
Overwhelmed? Don’t have the right tools? The fixes above didn’t solve the problem?
If you’re in the Central Pennsylvania area and need help fixing a leaking faucet, WM Buffington is here to help! From minor plumbing issues to plumbing emergencies, you can call on us 24 hours a day for service.