How to Repair a Leaking Outdoor Faucet

dripping outdoor faucet
What You'll Need
Fasteners: nuts, bolts, and washers
Crescent wrench
Lubricating grease for plumbing
Small tray for tools
Jar for small parts

Repairing your leaking outdoor faucet will save you money and can prevent water damage to your home's exterior or leakage into your basement windows. Follow these tips if your outdoor faucet has sprung a leak.

Step 1 - Prepare

Locate outdoor water supply valve, which is usually under the kitchen sink or in the basement.

Once you locate the specific pipe that runs to your outside faucet, turn off the water supply using the shut off valve.

TIP: Bring all your supplies with you on a small tray. Bring a jar for nuts, bolts, and washers so that they don't disappear in the lawn or in between your patio paving stones.

Step 2 - Remove the Faucet Turn Handle

Use the correct size and shape of screwdriver to take off the faucet turn handle. Set the handle and screw on your tray so you do not lose any parts.

Step 3 - Remove the Spigot

Take the faucet spigot, or tap, off by gripping and turning it with your crescent wrench. Check the washer inside the spigot. If this washer is damaged or seated incorrectly inside the spigot it, you may have found the cause of your leak.

Step 4 - Replace the Washer and Test

outdoor faucet washer

Dig out the old washer with a flat-bladed screwdriver, and put in a new washer. Reattach the valve and handle, restore the water supply temporarily from inside the house.

Test the outdoor faucet by turning on the water. If the faucet does not leak when you shut off the faucet, you have solved the problem. However, if the faucet leaks, even with a new washer, you need to once again turn off the water supply and continue your investigation.

Step 5 - Access the Faucet Valve Stem

Release the handle and spigot from the faucet again (as in Step 4). Use the crescent wrench to reach and turn the packing nut to release it. Lift out the packing nut and pull out the faucet valve stem.

Step 6 - Replace the Washer on the Faucet Valve Stem

Find the washer on the bottom end of the valve stem, and take it off. Replace the old valve stem washer with a new one. Check the valve stem itself for rust, corrosion, and hard water build-up that may be interfering with its effectiveness. If the faucet valve stem is damaged, you will need to replace it at the plumbing or building supply center.

Step 7 - Reinstall the Faucet Valve Stem

faucet parts

Put either the new or old faucet valve stem back into the faucet hole, and reattach the packing nut by using your crescent wrench. Apply a thick layer of lubricating grease around the packing nut and its washer.

Step 8 - Reattach the Spigot and Faucet Handle

Reattach the spigot, turning it carefully to avoid warping or bending it. Screw the handle back onto the faucet once more. Restore the water supply to the outdoor faucet, and check carefully for leaks. Keep your eyes open for water drips from the faucet both while water is flowing and when it is shut off.

Replacing washers on both the spigot and valve stem should solve the problem.