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How can I fix a leaky outdoor faucet? main full
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How Do I Fix a Leaky Outdoor Faucet?

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 You Find Your Hose Spigot Leaking

Is your outdoor faucet leaking? Is the hose bib leaking when off? Or is the hose bib leaking from the handle? Whichever the case, a leaky outdoor faucet is worrying because of how it sneakily drives up your water bill.

It makes it important to find where the leaks are as early as possible, to limit both your water and money waste. To help with that, this article discusses how to fix your outdoor faucets on your own.

Plumbing Outdoor Faucet Leak Tips
Check out the list below for the most common causes your outdoor faucet is dripping.

Types of Outdoor Faucets

Before we talk about how to fix your outdoor faucet, it helps to know the type of faucet you have. It also helps to know that standard outdoor faucets don’t let you access both cold and hot water, unlike indoor faucets.

This is because you don’t necessarily need hot water outdoors. As such, outdoor and indoor faucets have slightly different designs and mechanisms. Therefore, it helps to know more about outdoor faucets.

There are at least eight types of them, and they are:


Spigots or hose bibs are the most common type. You will find them in most homes, designed to help in yard work, such as watering plants. The spigot has a compressor valve that restricts water flow by tightening and loosening.

They are also available in different types of material, such as brass, aluminum, cast iron, die-cast aluminum, ABS or Celcon plastic, steel, and zinc.

Ball Valve Faucets

This type of outdoor faucet has a simple design, making it easy to use. However, it limits your control over the water. It’s easy to shut it off and on, but controlling water pressure isn’t possible. This makes it ideal for yard work.

Yard Hydrants

A Yard hydrant is a special type of outdoor faucet connected to the underground water supply. Unlike spigots, yard hydrants are less likely to clog or freeze in the winter. They can also be installed far away from your home, not on the exterior wall of your home.

Yard Hydrant schematic illustration
Yard Hydrants are a special type of outdoor faucet. Source: Woodford Products

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

Wall Hydrants

Wall hydrants extend and connect to the house’s water supply. For the most part, they’re similar to yard hydrants except that it’s attached to an exterior wall. This outdoor faucet can also cover a wide area.

Anti-Siphon Valve

Anti-siphon valves are a type of faucet that prevents water from going back into the house. It helps prevent water damage and contamination. Most modern homes today use this type of faucet to protect their house’s water quality.

Freeze-Proof Faucets

This is a special type of faucet ideal if you are in cold climates. It has a long metal inner tube inside that helps to keep water always warm so it doesn’t freeze. Its design allows it to withstand freezing temperatures and not burst, unlike normal spigots.

Freeze Proof Faucet
Some faucets have special features for preventing freezes. Source: Freeze Miser Products

How to Fix a Leaky Outdoor Faucet

Since most homeowners have the spigot outdoor faucet, the instructions we’ll provide you are all about this specific type. Follow the step-by-step procedure below on how to fix and replace the malfunctioning parts of the faucet that are causing it to drip.

Shut Off the Water Supply

Start by shutting off the water. Locate the water line that supplies water to the outdoor faucets and turn it off. This way, you will be able to work on the spigot easily.

Remove the Handle

Now, let’s work on the spigot. Using a screwdriver, unscrew the handle that holds the faucet. After removing the screw and some wiggling, you might need to pull the handle but be really careful. Set it aside once you’ve removed it.

Unscrew the Packing Nut

The next part to remove is the packing nut using either an adjustable wrench or channel-lock pliers. By removing the packing nut, you will be able to get to the valve stem and the body of the faucet.

Remove the Valve Stem

After removing the packing nut, it’s the valve stem you’ll need to remove next. Typically, you will have to unscrew it from being threaded to the faucet’s body. Use an adjustable wrench to unscrew it, if necessary.

Change the Stem Washer

At the end of the valve stem is a rubber or a neoprene washer. Check it to see if it’s been deformed, hardened, or cracked. If it is, then it’s probably why your outdoor faucet is leaking. In that case, you need to replace it.

Do this by unscrewing the brass screw that keeps the washer in place on the valve stem. Look for the exact-same stem washer that your faucet has and attach it to the stem the same way as the old one did.

Change the Packing String

The next part of the faucet you should inspect is the packing string, which is the Teflon or old graphite string wrapped around the valve stem. It’s probably already worn-out, so you should unwrap it and then wrap a new one.

Reassemble the Faucet

Once you are done replacing the broken, worn-out, or corroded parts of the faucet, time to put it back together. Thread the stem back followed by the packing nut. Put the handle back as well, the same way it was before.

Tighten the packing nut just a bit, not too much or it will be hard when you turn it later. Remember that you should be able to turn the handle freely. After you are done reassembling, test the faucet to see if it still leaks.

DIY vs. Professional Solutions

Fixing a leaky hose bib is a simple enough job. For the most part, any homeowner can do it themselves. But it all depends on the nature of the problem and the homeowner’s knowledge.

If you’re not confident you can fix your outdoor faucet, you can always call a trusted local plumber using the phone number or form on this page. They can quickly repair a hose spigot that is leaking and install a new one if necessary.

Dripping Outdoor Faucet FAQs

What Causes an Outdoor Faucet to Leak?

Several things can cause the outdoor faucet to leak. It could be that it’s already old and worn-out. The hose bib might have frozen and burst. The faucet could have a worn-out washer, causing it to leak because it’s no longer able to stop the flow of water.

Should I Let Outdoor Faucets Drip During Winter or Cover Them?

Even if you have a “freeze-proof” outdoor faucet, you should still cover it during winter or freeze. This is because this particular type of faucet still has rubber parts, which aren’t freeze-proof. You should also turn off your water supply to the outdoor faucet. This way, no water sits inside the supply pipe, which can freeze and end up causing costly damage.

How Do I Care for My Outdoor Faucet?

Clean it regularly with a brush, dish soap, and water. It also helps to drain the faucet every week to prevent scale buildup. Also, make sure that you turn it off when not in use. More importantly, you should cover the faucet with an insulated foam cover before the weather becomes freezing.

How Much Will It Cost to Replace an Outdoor Faucet?

The cost of installing a new outdoor faucet can range from $100 to $300 if it’s done by a professional. This cost still varies depending on the type of faucet and certain features like being weatherproof or freeze-proof. The cost can also increase depending on the distance between your home’s nearest pipes and the desired location for the faucet.

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