How To Fix A Leaky Faucet & Problems To Look Out For

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Is that leaky faucet keeping you up at night? Is the drip drip drip into the sink driving you mad? So many of us put up with leaky faucets in the hope that they will just fix themselves. Why do we put up with it? Because we don’t know how to fix them ourselves! So here we thought we would help you learn how to fix a leaky faucet. 

You don’t need any fancy plumbing qualifications or many specialist tools. All you need is a bit of instruction and a few handy tools. We will give you a step by step guide on how to fix a leaky faucet so that you don’t have to put up with that drip any longer! 

Table of Contents

Faucets Explained

Before we go fixing your leaky faucet, we need to understand what type of faucet you have. Below are the different types of faucet that you might have in your home. 

Single Handle Faucet 

This type of faucet is usually found paired with a sink and has only one handle to control both the water’s pressure and its temperature. Coming in many different designs, the handle lifts up and to the sides to determine how much water comes out. The mixer within the faucet blends the hot and cold seamlessly while regulating the amount of pressure that comes out. If you have this type of faucet in your bathroom, then you will be pleased to know that there aren’t many places this faucet will leak from. 

Double Handle Faucet

Like the single-handle faucet, these two-handled faucets have one water outlet with two handles to control the hot and the cold water independently. Usually bought as a whole unit, this system has a few places it can leak from, but we will discuss this in more detail further on. 

Widespread Faucet

More traditional in style, the widespread faucet is designed to use two independent handles and usually a single water outlet. One handle will control the pressure and temperature of the hot while the other will control the temperature and pressure of the cold. This is often then blended into the single outlet, which is situated in the middle of this widespread set. Occasionally you’ll find that two individual handle and outlet combos placed together are classified as a widespread faucet as well. 

Waterfall Style Faucet

The waterfall element to a waterfall faucet describes the flow of the water as it leaves the spout of the faucet. Usually, cascading over the top of the spout rather than pouring from it creates a beautiful waterfall effect. However, this look, while attractive, isn’t always functional and, as such, should be considered carefully before installing it into a family bathroom that will be in constant use. These faucets also use a lot of water and often, due to the nature of the outlet, don’t provide much pressure in the stream. 

Spray Function Faucet

A spray function faucet can usually be found in a kitchen or a utility and will combine both a traditional faucet with an additional shower style spray head. These spray heads are great for rinsing off debris from plates or for soaking laundry before it goes into the washer. While these spray faucets are a great addition to a home, they do increase the likelihood of a leak simply because they have additional components that could break or wear. It is, however, easier to identify the leak when it happens. 

How to Fix A Leaky Faucet

So now that you know which type of faucet is yours, we can begin looking at how to fix the leak. 

Identify where your leak is coming from

If you have a dripping faucet, then it’s pretty clear cut where the leak is coming from, and that is out of the waterspout. If you have pooling water around your faucet, then it might mean that your leak is situated around the joints or hinges. If you have a leak under your sink, then the likelihood is that there is a problem with your supply lines or your waste pipe. Search all of these to see if you can identify exactly where the leak is. Then, you will be able to tackle the problem much more efficiently. 

Turn off the water

This might sound silly, but you’d be amazed by how many people forget to turn the water off and then wonder why they end up with such a mess to clear up! Turn the water off at the stopcock under the sink or by your water meter in the road/under your house. Once your water is off, run the tap for a minute or two to make sure that the system is empty. 

Dismantle your faucet

Depending on where your leak is, take the faucet apart. This might mean removing it from your countertop, or it might simply be that you need to take the water spout off. If you suspect your leak is underneath your sink, then detach the supply lines. If you are of a nervous disposition or you haven’t performed this sort of task before, then feel free to take photos or make notes of how the faucet came apart. That way, you will be able to put your faucet back together much more easily! 

Replace washers, reseal parts, or tighten connectors

In almost all circumstances, your leak will have originated from a seal perishing, a washer dislodging, or a connector loosening. Luckily these are an easy fix, so all you need to do is to replace washers with new ones, replace old seals with newer models (or use plumbers tape to reseal them) or tighten any loose connectors that you might have between the supply lines and your faucet. 

Put your faucet back together and test it

Now it’s time to reassemble your faucet and test it out. This will mean turning the water back on and seeing if it leaks from anywhere, so be prepared with towels and a quick hand to turn the water back off, just in case. 

Problems to Look Out for With Your Leaky Faucet

Most of the time, the reason your seals or washers have perished is because of old age and sustained use. This is known as wear and tear and is perfectly normal for an item that is often used is subjected to extreme temperatures. However, there are occasions where cheaper faucets might break or crack due to this wear and tear being too much for the material to bear. Often cheaper faucets are made from low quality plastics or metals that bend and warp over time. These then crack and create leaks. 

In our opinion, if you feel your faucets are not of high quality, then it might be time to simply replace them before you end up with a significant leak that could cost thousands in repairs. 

FAQs About Leaky Faucets

“My faucet keeps dripping, what could it be?”

If you have a faucet that is continuously dripping, then the likelihood is that it needs new washers (also known as O rings). These are used to seal off parts of the faucet where water can’t come out and are usually found in the joints of your faucet (such as where your handles twist or where the spout is adjustable). Simply take your faucet apart using the installation instructions and replace these washers. 

“My plumber friend says my ceramic disks are clogged; how do I fix that?”

The ceramic disc valve is what is inside your faucet. In order to reach this, you will need to take the water spout off and remove the ceramic disc with some pliers. Simply leave the disc to soak overnight in some cleaning fluid, and this should clean out any debris or build-up that is lurking in there. 

“The water won’t come through my faucet, but I don’t have a leak. What is wrong?”

If you are struggling to get water through to your faucet, then there are two reasons this could be happening. The first is that there is a blockage with your supply lines. These lines are only narrow and can easily get blocked by debris or limescale build-up. Take them off, soak them overnight in descale, and try the following day again. 

Replacing Your Faucets 

In some cases, a leak isn’t always fixable and can mean that you have to replace your faucets rather than mending them. There are several benefits to this. The first is that you are able to deal with your existing leak quickly and efficiently! 

The second is that older faucets are often less water efficient and can cost you more money to run. By replacing your faucets for new ones, you will not only benefit from a nice shiny new faucet but also benefit from reduced water bills. 

Thirdly, depending on your water quality and the age of your faucets, your old faucets could be harboring all sorts of germs and bacteria. Most of the water in the US holds a certain amount of debris and bacteria that, in large quantities, can be harmful to us. If these bacteria find a hiding place inside your faucet, then it has the perfect breeding ground to grow and multiply. Add in warm, humid conditions, and before you know it, your water is pretty dirty. It can be nearly impossible to clean out the inside of your faucet, so the safest way to ensure there are no harmful bacteria is to replace the entire faucet. 

You can find new faucets at your local hardware store, or you can purchase them online for a fraction of the price. We always recommend that you check how many holes your sink has and whether the new faucets you’d like to buy are compatible. It is also worth looking at the reviews on new faucets, too, as customer reviews are one of the best ways to get an impartial, informative view of a product. Again, you can do this easily online and can see what people like about their new faucets, how long it took them to install, and whether they felt they were worth the money. 

Where to Buy A New Faucet

As we have said, both hardware stores and online stores will sell a wide range of faucets. It is worth shopping around both online and physically because you never know what deals are on. As a rule of thumb, physical stores tend to be more expensive because they have larger overheads than online ones. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up a bargain. 

End of line faucets and returned faucets are normally knocked down to up to 50% off their ticket price, just make sure that you check the box and that everything is inside. The last thing you want is to pay the half marked price only to get home and realize that it’s because there is only half a faucet set in there! 

When looking for a new faucet, also make sure that the set you are buying has supply lines and waste included too. Occasionally companies will make their faucets appear cheaper because you have to buy these components separately. Try to find a “complete package” as it will save you money and will make installation so much easier. 

We hope you now have the confidence to know how to fix a leaky faucet and that you can identify, fix, and enjoy your existing faucets again. Remember that you can never have too much plumbers tape and that perished seals are often a problem with all faucets, so it might be worth buying some in bulk to have for the future. If you enjoy performing DIY in your own home, then why not take it to the next level and see what sort of renovation project you could take on next? 

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