Leaking faucets are not only nerve wrecking, they can also run into costly bills. Small leaks that are left without any correction can use up to as much as 3 gallons of water and the bill from a plumber to fix the leak can be expensive and totally not justified. Most of the times, a leak can mean that the washer is damaged and needs changing and this is a very straight forward job that anyone with a little bit of patience can do on his or her own at home saving time and money.
Step 1 - Loose Nut
If you have just connected the faucet recently and it is already leaking, the probable fault is that you left the connection in the packing nut area a little loose. This nut is located below the handle and in most modern faucets, hidden inside a decorative handle. Remove the handle so that the faucet mechanism is revealed. Make use of an adjustable wrench to tighten the loose nut.
Step 2 - Washer Warn Out
If the faucet is relatively old, or the nut well tight in place, the next problem to think of is the washer being warn out, damaged or hardened. This commonly results in water dripping out from the handles or pooling of water around the handle area.
Step 3 - Shutting Water Supply
Before starting, make sure you have closed the water supply from the shut-off valve that is normally located just underneath the sink or by shutting off the water supply of the entire house. Confirm that the water supply is closed by opening the faucet and letting the water present in the pipes to drain. Eventually the water should stop flowing.
Step 4 - Exposing the Washer
Remove the faucet handle. This might require you prying the decorative handle out using a screwdriver. To avoid damaging it, first cover the edge of the decorative handle and that of the screwdriver with masking tape. Turn anti-clockwise and loosen the now exposed packing nut. At this point you should pull out the entire valve unit. You might need to twist it and move it around a little bit for it to come out free. By holding the valve unit in your hand look for the washer, which is normally located at the bottom and using a screwdriver, unscrew and remove the holding screw that holds the washer in place.
Step 5 - Buying a New Washer
Take the old washer with you to the hardware store so that you make sure you are purchasing the right washer with the exact size and shape as the old one.
Step 6 - Mounting Everything Back
Screw the new washer in place and mount the valve unit back into the faucet. Before tightening everything in place make sure that you turn the handle in the right position. Tighten the packing nut in place making sure you have tightened it well using a wrench.
Step 7 - Leak Test
Before placing the decorative handle back in place, open the water supply and test for any leaks. If leaks are still present, re-check the packing nut. If it’s tight, the probably problem is the size of the washer. Dismantle everything once again and check if the washer looks too big, small or loose before removing the screw holding it in place.
Step 8 - Lubrication
When dismantling everything, make sure you place everything in the order you removed them so as not to get mixed up. Use a bit of petroleum lubricant in the movable parts especially the handle to keep the movement of the faucet as smooth and as feeling new as possible.