Dripping faucets are not only an annoyance, but they waste water and can increase water costs if left to leak over a long period of time. Faucets are comprised of many small parts contained within the fixture. A dripping or leaking faucet is usually an indication that one or more of those parts has worn out. The good news is that replacing just the worn part will oftentimes fix the problem. In severe cases you may have to replace the entire faucet. Depending on the age of the hardware, that might be a good idea. New faucets are much more efficient than older, worn out models. Assuming, though, that the dripping is caused by a worn seal, washer or O-ring, replacing one or all of these parts is something you can definitely do on your own.
Step 1: Determine Where the Leak Is
There are four basic faucet types: compression, disc, ball and cartridge. You have to first figure out what type of faucet you have in the bathroom. Faucets with separate handles for hot and cold water are usually compression, while faucets with an adjustable lever can be one of the other three. Compression faucets often leak around the handles. The other types often leak where the seals join the spout and the handle.
Step 2: Turn Off the Water to the Sink
Reach underneath the sink and turn off the valve that controls the water flowing to the sink. Make sure you do not forget this step or else you will be in for an unpleasant and wet surprise.
Step 3: Take Faucet Apart
Whatever the type of faucet you have, carefully take it apart. Do not lose any of the parts, especially the worn seal or washer. Oftentimes there is a cap that conceals a screw. Once this screw is removed, the rest of the fixture comes undone. Ball, disc and cartridge faucets often need the handle removed before the screw(s) become visible.
Step 4: Check the Washers, Seals and/or O-Ring
Look carefully at the seals and washers once the fixture is apart. Seals may have corroded or the washer may be damaged, both of which can cause the faucet to leak. A leaking faucet can only be caused by a few faulty parts, so you should be able to find the culprit quickly. Save the damaged part.
Step 5: Find a Replacement
Take the faulty part with you to the plumbing store to match it with a replacement. If, by chance, you have replacement gaskets, seals and washers around the house, you might match it with something you already have.
Step 6: Replace the New Part
Carefully put the faucet back together with the new part correctly in place. Make sure the washer is situated correctly and that the bendable gasket is not buckled when you put the fixture back together again. Don’t torque out the screw when you tighten up the faucet. That could cause irreparable damage to the whole faucet.
When repairing a dripping faucet, you can usually find the failed part quickly after taking the faucet apart in the correct manner. Because it is usually a seal or a washer, the part is easily replaceable and your dripping faucet will drip no more.