Faucet Types and How to Repair Them: Compression and Cartridge Faucet Types and How to Repair Them: Compression and Cartridge
Repairing a Compression Faucet
A compression faucet leaks for one of two reasons: Either the washer or the valve seat is worn.
Replacing a washer
Take the handle off the faucet. These are usually held on with a screw hidden under a decorative cap on the faucet. You should be able to see a spot where you can get the tip of a screwdriver under the cap to pry it off, then undo the screw holding the cap in place. Loosen and remove the water valve by turning it counterclockwise. An adjustable wrench or a pair of Vise grips work well. A rubber washer will be attached to the bottom of the valve stem. Remove the screw holding the washer in place and replace it with an identically sized one.
Repairing a valve seat
If your valve seat is worn or corroded, you can replace it as well. Take out a removable valve seat using an Allen wrench or valve seat wrench. Replace it with a new valve seat of the exact size. If your valve seat is not replaceable, you can recondition it with a "valve seat dresser," an inexpensive tool that grinds away high spots - these are available at home stores or plumbing supply stores.
Repairing a Cartridge Faucet
A cartridge faucet has holes inside the assembly to control both water flow and temperature. They will normally leak for one of two reasons: either an O ring has deteriorated or the cartridge is faulty.
- On either single handled or double handled cartridge faucets, your obvious first step is to remove the faucet handle and body by undoing any screws or small bolts holding them. They are likely hidden from view under decorative caps and will either unscrew or require a small Allen wrench to remove them.
- The next step is to actually remove the cartridge. Most will have a locking nut holding it in place. Unscrew the nut with an adjustable wrench and it should lift out - if it sticks, use a pair of pliers to lift it out.
- Your problem could be as straightforward as the O ring around the cartridge having deteriorated over time, or the cartridge itself could be faulty. If the O ring looks good, you'll need to replace the cartridge itself. Take it with you to your plumbing supply or home store where you can get an exact replacement.
- When you are replacing the cartridge, remember it needs to be reinserted properly or the hot and cold will be reversed. Most cartridges have a flat side that faces the front, but to be on the safe side, read and follow any directions that come with your replacement cartridge. Now just reassemble the faucet and turn the water back on.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with articles published in both the United States and Canada. He has written on a wide range of topics, but specializes in home maintenance and how to's.