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Why Is My Faucet Dripping?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

Don’t Panic if Your Sink Faucet Won’t Stop Dripping

A leaky faucet is without a doubt annoying. The drip, drip, drip constantly reminds you there’s something wrong with your kitchen faucet or bathroom sink, and that you are wasting water. Therefore, you are wasting money too.

Well, you don’t have to put up with it. You can fix it yourself with simple troubleshooting tips like the ones we will discuss in this article.  But first, let’s take a look at the different possible causes of a dripping faucet.

Faucet Dripping Solution Ideas
Check out the list below for the most common causes your faucet is dripping.

Common Causes of a Leaky Faucet

Do you know the different types of faucets? Your kitchen or bathroom faucet can be a cartridge, ball, ceramic disk, or compression type. Knowing the different types is essential in fixing the faucet due to the type of components it has.

If it’s a compression type, it seals the valve seat using rubber washers. These washers can wear out over time, which then must be replaced. What about ceramic, ball, and cartridge faucets?

The other three have either neoprene or an O-ring seal. If the cause of the leak is the seal, it will also need to be replaced. But there are other possible causes of a dripping faucet. We’ll discuss them more in detail below.

Damaged Cartridge

As we said before, your leaky faucet might be due to the cartridge. The cartridge controls the water flow in the faucet spout, so if it’s damaged, it definitely leads to dripping. In that case, it needs replacing but make sure that you get a matching type.

Bad O-Ring

If not the cartridge itself, it might be that the problem is the O-ring. It’s a small disc attached to the faucet’s stem screw, keeping its handle in place. It could be worn out or loose, which is why the faucet handle is leaking. Replacing the O-ring should fix the problem.

Fix a dripping faucet tips
See our list of common repair tips for leaky faucets.

Corroded Valve Seat

The valve seat connects the spout and the faucet. It is likely the origin problem if your faucet’s leak originates from the spout. It might be that the valve seat has been corroded as a result of water sediment buildup. Regular cleanup of the valve seat should prevent this, but if it’s already corroded, you can replace it.

Our resident home repair guru, John Turpin, has provided a list of common reasons why your faucet’s leaking, along with some suggested solutions and DIY tips to fix it.

Worn-Out Washers

A worn-out washer is another common cause of a leaky faucet. The washer rests against the valve seat, which creates friction. This friction eventually wears down the washer, leading to leaks. The leaks can also happen if the washer is the wrong size or if it wasn’t properly installed.

Loose or Broken Parts

A dripping kitchen sink can also be due to loose or broken parts. The faucet’s packing nuts and adjusting ring can all become loose after some time. As a result, the sink handle begins dripping. You can fix it either by tightening the nut or replacing the broken parts.

Broken Down Seals

Like the valve seats, the faucet’s inlet and outlet seals can break down over time. The water sediments build up and can end up corroding these seals, thus causing the leaks. Replacing the seals should fix your dripping kitchen sink.

Water Pressure

We mentioned before that the worst possible cause of a dripping bathroom sink or leaky kitchen faucet is water pressure. A sign that the culprit of the dripping is the water pressure is when the faucet only drips at certain times during the day. You will know for sure if you let a professional check your plumbing system.

DIY repair ideas for fixing a dripping faucet
Each of these solutions could fix your faucet problems.

How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

There are different ways to fix a leaky faucet. You can do it yourself by following the steps listed below.

Turn Off Water

Before repairing or replacing any part, be sure you turn off the water first. Look for the main water line and shut off the water from there. That way, you can prevent water damage and more leaks that could lead to an increased water bill. It also lets you work on the faucet pretty easily.

Plug The Drain

Don’t forget to plug the drain. Even if there’s no water (since you turned it off), plugging the drain is important to prevent any parts or tools from getting inside it, which could lead to more serious problems.

Find Out Your Faucet Type

As we mentioned, there are four types of faucets. Knowing the type of faucet you have is crucial in knowing which steps to take as well. If you’re not sure what type yours is, know that:

  • Cartridge Faucet – has an interior cartridge; single or double handle
  • Ball Faucet – has a ball assembly
  • Ceramic Faucet – moves ceramic disks to regular water flow
  • Compression Faucet – has interior rubber washer seals; double handle

You can also compare pictures online to know the type of faucet you have. Once you determine the type of faucet, you can go ahead and fix your faucet with the following instructions:

Cartridge Faucet

  1. Remove the faucet’s handle by unscrewing it and tilting backward.
  2. Remove the retaining clip by pulling it out using pliers.
  3. Pull out the cartridge, which should be in a straight-up position.
  4. Remove and set aside the faucet spout.
  5. Find the O-rings and then replace them with new ones (grease them first).
  6. Reassemble the handle and put everything back into place.
  7. The leaky kitchen sink should be repaired now.

Ball Faucet

If you have a ball faucet, fixing it might involve replacing various parts. It might need special tools as well. As such, it’s best to get a whole replacement kit, which includes new parts and special tools for a DIY ball faucet repair.

  1. Purchase a ball faucet replacement kit.
  2. Unscrew and remove the handle. Set it aside for now.
  3. Take out the cap and collar using the pliers included in the kit.
  4. Loosen and remove the faucet cam using the tool included in the kit.
  5. Remove the washer and ball as well.
  6. Reach inside the mechanism with needle pliers.
  7. Take out the inlet seals and springs from inside the mechanism.
  8. Cut the old O-rings and install a new one after greasing.
  9. Install new cam washers, valve seats, and springs.
  10. Reassemble the handle by reversing the process.
  11. The leaky kitchen faucet should be fixed now.

Ceramic Faucet

  1. Unscrew and remove the handle.
  2. Find and then remove the escutcheon cap (made of metal).
  3. Take out the disk cylinder, which should expose some neoprene seals.
  4. Remove the seals.
  5. Clean the cylinders by soaking them in white vinegar for a couple of hours.
  6. Check if the cylinders are reusable.
  7. If they’re already worn out, replace the seals with an exact match.
  8. Reassemble the handle and put everything back together.
  9. Turn the water on very slowly to prevent the ceramic disk from cracking.

Compression Faucet

  1. Remove each handle of the compression faucet.
  2. Remove the nut using a wrench.
  3. Pull the stem out to expose the O-ring.
  4. Replace the O-ring if it’s thin and work it out.
  5. Remove and then replace the seat washer (don’t forget to grease the replacement).
  6. Reassemble the handle.
  7. The dripping bathroom sink should be fixed now.

Dripping Faucet FAQs

Is It Easy to Fix a Leaky Faucet?

It’s easy enough to fix most cases of dripping faucets. They are usually simple enough that you can complete them on your own. However, there is one issue related to leaky faucets that is best handled by a professional – the water pressure issue. If the cause of the leak is water pressure, it’s best to have an expert investigate your home, find out why you have this problem, and ultimately fix it for you.

Is a Dripping Faucet an Emergency?

A leaky bathroom sink or leaky kitchen faucet is not considered an emergency. However, it would still be better to have them repaired as quickly as possible. This is because if the root cause of the leak is a drainage issue, it may lead to some flooding. You could have water damage, which can quickly become an expensive repair. As such, be sure to get your dripping faucet fixed as soon as you can.

Is a Leaky Kitchen Faucet Covered in Home Warranty?

Home warranties don’t usually cover dripping kitchen faucets. But some home warranty plans may cover handyman services. If the cause of the leak is simple enough and you want a professional to take care of the issue, you can hire a handyman. In that case, it might be possible to use your home warranty. But to be sure, you should check with your home warranty provider.

How Much Does it Cost to Repair a Dripping Faucet?

The average cost of fixing a dripping faucet is somewhere between $65 and $150. But it can go as high as $300 depending on the cause, nature, and extent of the leak. The good news is that repairing a leaky faucet is fairly easy. Sometimes, it only involves changing a corroded valve seat or tightening a loose stem screw. But if it involves something more complicated, such as replacing a pipe, don’t hesitate to contact a professional.

Hire a Local Plumbing Pro

The methods above are effective DIY tips to investigate, diagnose, and fix your leaky faucet. But if you need professional help, then don’t hesitate to contact a local plumbing pro using the phone number or form on this page.

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