How to Repair or Replace a Leaky Hose Bib

A hose bib attached to a wire mesh covered wall.
What You'll Need
New hose bib
Teflon tape

One of the most common problems homeowners have with their hose bib—or the exterior faucet that connects a garden hose to water—is leaking. Many homeowners will ignore the leaking unless it is particularly dramatic, seeing it a minor annoyance and not something to be concerned about. However, a leaky hose bib can be more than an occasional irritation. They waste a great deal of energy, even if they are small. In addition, they can cause water damage over time to your foundation. So, rather than wait for this leak to cause a real problem, nip it in the bud and repair the hose bib as early as possible.

Step 1 - Try a Simple Fix First

Inspect your hose bib to understand how it works and what the problem is. In most cases, a leak can be fixed by finding the packing nut under the spigot and tightening it. This is a simple process that requires only a wrench. However, if this is ineffective, it may be necessary for you to replace the entire fixture. If that is the case, move onto the next steps.

Step 2 - Buy an Appropriate Spigot

You have several choices when buying a new spigot. In order to determine which one is right for you, you must take a look at your piping; materials should be matched up whenever possible. It is more important to note, however, that different kinds of piping will require different hose bib fittings. Gray plastic, steel, and copper pipes need compression fittings.

If you cannot determine what your pipes are made out of, take a look at the most common piping materials during the period your home was built. For example, homes built in the seventies usually have copper piping, and pipes that are more than 50 years old generally have galvanized, threaded pipes. If you still are unsure what materials yours are, a professional will be able to tell, either for free or for a small fee.

Step 3 - Replace

Threaded pipes are the simplest to work with when adding a new hose bib. In essence, all you must do is unscrew the faulty fixture, wrap Teflon tape around the threaded pipe (sometimes referred to as the 'nipple'), and then screw your new hose bib onto it.

However, there are a plethora of ways that your hose bib can be connected to your pipes, many of them vastly more difficult to repair than those that are screwed on. Soldered pipes, for example, require more specialized equipment, knowledge, and experience.

Step 4 - Call in the Pros

If you are uncertain as to what kind of hose bib to buy and how to replace it once you have bought it, calling in a professional is your best bet. In general, using a pro to replace your hose bib will cost around $50, plus the cost of the new hose bib. Although you should certainly attempt to complete the task yourself, $50 is a small price in comparison to the costs of repairs if you make a mistake and end up compromising your plumbing.

And, of course, in many cases, the process described in the first step will solve your problems with a leaky hose bib. Always try the simplest solution before worrying about total replacement.