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Faucet leaks can be annoying and costly. They also come in many different designs, making fixing the leak a daunting process. Read on to learn leaky faucets of all different designs.
Washer faucets are the most common kind. They have separate taps for hot and cold, which have to be tightened to shut off the water. To fix one, turn off the water to the sink, then snap off the decorative cap and loosen the screw underneath it. Remove the handle from its setting. Unscrew the nut underneath the handle, then rotate the stem until it is unscrewed. Clean out the cavity underneath the stem using a cloth or sponge.
The most likely problem is an old washer. If it looks old and worn, replace it, and then reassemble the faucet by following the above steps in reverse. If the washer is not the problem, take a look at the threads on the stem. If they are damaged, take those parts to a hardware store and get some replacements.
Disc faucets usually have just one tap, which consists of a wide cylinder with a lever on top. To fix a leaky disc faucet, shut off the water to the sink, loosen the set screw on top of the handle, and remove the handle. Pull out the disc assembly that is underneath using pliers. The O-ring should now be visible, and it is the most likely cause of the problem. Replace it, and then reassemble the faucet. If replacing the O-ring does not work, you will need to replace the disc assembly.
Ball faucets have a single handle that moves over a rounded cap. To fix a ball faucet that is leaking from the handle, loosen the set screw on the handle and slide the handle off of the stem. Note: unlike the other faucet designs, you should not turn off the water first for this repair. Use a wrench to tighten the adjusting collar until the water leak stops.
If you can't turn the adjusting collar with a wrench, it must be corroded. Turn off the water to the sink. Unscrew the cap. Apply some lubricating oil to the threads and let it soak in for a few minutes. Then remove the ring, clean all of the parts, and reassemble the faucet. If the corrosion is too severe, you might need to replace the adjusting collar.
A ball faucet that is leaking from the spigot needs a different kind of repair. Turn off the water to the sink and take the handle off, as described above. Pull the ball out of the stem the handle was sitting on. Using needle nosed pliers, remove the rubber seats and springs. Replace them with new ones, putting the springs in before the seats. Clean the ball or replace it if it is too worn or corroded. Reassemble the faucet using the reverse of the steps you used to take it apart.
A cartridge faucet can have one or two taps, which turn like the taps of a washer faucet do. You can tell them apart by the feel of the turning, however. A washer faucet grows more difficult to turn as it gets closer to the off position. A cartridge faucet turns smoothly the whole way. Repairing a leaking cartridge faucet requires replacing the cartridge.
Turn off the water line to the sink. Loosen the set screw and remove the handle. Look for a retaining clip holding the cartridge in place. Not all cartridge faucets use them but, if yours does, you will need to remove it with pliers. Pull out the cartridge, and install the new one. Put the retaining clip and the handle back in place.
If you have to use a wrench or pliers on any outside surface of the faucet, wrap it in duct tape or electrical tape to prevent cosmetic damage to the finish. Also, you should put a towel in the sink before starting the repair, so that any parts you accidentally drop don't get lost down the drain.
You should be able to handle fix leaky by yourself, with minimal fuss. However, if you find yourself completely lost and unsure of what to do, then it's time to call the professionals, or risk causing even worse damage yourself.
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