How to Repair a Leaking Faucet Stem

What You'll Need
Crescent Wrench
Replacement Stem
New Rubber Washer
Penetrating Oil

Stem-type faucets usually leak due to issues in the faucet stem. Some stems are threaded to the faucet assembly, so in order to repair the leak, the stem has to be removed to inspect it for possible damage. For loose thread, stem or washer problem, here is a guide on how to fix the issue.

Step 1 – Turn off the Water Supply

Locate the shut-off the valve located under the sink, behind the faucet assembly or behind a panel. There is no need to turn off the water supply for the entire home unless the faucet is not connected to any shut-off valve. Make sure no one is using the water supply during repairs.

Step 2 – Drain the Water

To ensure no water drips off to the floor during repairs, drain the water from the water supply lines. Turn on the faucet and let the water drain. If you turned the water off to the entire house, and there are faucets at the lower portion of the home, turn them on as well to completely remove the water from the pipes.

Step 3 – Detach the Faucet Handle

Every handle is secured to the faucet with a screw. Locate the screw and loosen it with a screwdriver. If the screw is hidden by a cap, pry off the cap using the flat edge of the screwdriver. If the screw is corroded and hard to remove, apply some penetrating oil and wait for a few minutes. When the screw is removed, pull off the handle.

Step 4 – Remove the Stem

Use a crescent wrench to remove the locknut fastening the stem in place. As soon as the locknut is removed, the stem can also be pulled out of the faucet. If the faucet stem is threaded to the assembly, turn it counterclockwise with a wrench until it disengages. Locate the rubber washer at the bottom of the stem. This may be secured using a small screw. Use a small screwdriver to loosen the screw. Remove the washer.

Step 5 – Replace the Washer and Stem

If the stem is to be replaced, the washer has to be replaced as well to ensure that the faucet does not leak due to a faulty or worn out washer. Take the washer and stem to a local plumbing supply store to obtain the correct replacement parts.

Install the washer to the stem. Position it into the faucet assembly and hand-tighten it first to ensure the threads are aligned correctly. Tighten it afterward with a wrench, but not too much so as to avoid causing damage. Install the handle back over the stem and tighten the screw. If the screw is corroded, purchase a similar screw for replacement. To ensure that the screw does not get corroded easily, clean any debris from the screw hole before inserting the screw. Replace the protective cap over it.

Step 6 – Turn on the Water Supply

Open the shut off valve or the main water supply. Turn on the faucet and inspect for any leaks.