Guide

How to Stop a Dripping Faucet – Step-by-Step Process

If you have a leaking faucet in your bathroom or kitchen, don’t just ignore it. A malfunctioning tap can cause more damage than one might think. Everyone should know how to stop a dripping faucet by themselves.

Having a faucet that is dripping is more than just an annoying issue. The sound can keep you awake at night, but you are facing more severe problems if you don’t fix it fast. A leaking faucet can cause all sorts of damages. First and foremost, your utility bills may skyrocket, as you’ll be wasting water unnecessarily. Every drip you hear is a drip you’ll have to pay at the end of the month. Not only that, but all that water can cause substantial damage to your property’s structure and cause health hazards such as mold.

What Causes a Dripping Faucet?

Faucets control the water flow using the inner stem, or sometimes cartridge, with washers and seals that allow or block the water flow. Sometimes, these seals don’t work, or something gets broken, and the leaks occur. You’ll most likely notice this by hearing the annoying dripping sound, but sometimes the leaks can be more apparent. 

Here are some of the common causes of a dripping faucet:

1. Mineral buildup. If you have buildup on any of the inner parts, it may block the seals and allow the water to get through. 

2. Corrosion. If faucet’s body corrodes, it can deform its insides so much that the seals won’t work correctly. Sadly, if this is the case, you should replace your entire sink.

3. Worn-out parts. If the O-rings or washers haven’t been replaced for some time, this might be the issue. If you have a cartridge faucet, then maybe the problem is caused by worn out neoprene seals.

Knowing what caused the leak is the best way to ensure you’ll be able to repair everything. Luckily for you, fixing this common plumbing issue isn’t tricky. You don’t have to be a professional to fix most of the common problems.

How to Stop a Dripping Faucet – Step-by-Step

If you want to learn how to stop a dripping faucet, you should follow these steps:

Tools you’ll need:

  • C wrench
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Lubricating oil
  • Replacement O-rings and washers

Step #1

First and foremost, you should turn off the water supply. Some properties allow you to shut down water only in the kitchen or the bathroom, without disrupting the rest of the house. If this isn’t the case, turn off the water supply in the entire house. Make sure to prepare everything at least a day prior if this is the case. Simultaneously, the water should be turned off completely, all from the handles to the knobs underneath it. You don’t want to turn your entire room into one big pile of wet mess! 

Also, place a rag on top of the drain, to ensure that nothing can fall inside of it. You don’t want to lose some essential, smaller part! Place some old cloth on the floor. This is where you’ll place all the removed parts. Faucet parts can be dirty and oily, and you don’t want to make a mess. Preparation is the key when learning how to stop a dripping faucet without any damage.

Step #2

Take off any decorative caps or other unnecessary parts from the handle knobs. Some can be taken off by hand; others require a flat-head screwdriver. This should expose screws underneath each knob. This screw serves to mount the handle and the stem together. Unscrew them, then remove the handle. Make sure you are gentle, as you don’t want to damage anything. If the screws are hard to remove, use a lubricating oil, such as CRC or WD-40. This should help loosen them and remove the handle from the stem.

Step #3

Loosen the packing nut using an appropriate wrench. This will expose the stem, which you should also remove. Note that, depending on the faucet type, this might be more or less difficult. Some stems will pop right off, while you should twist off the others. Once again, if anything is too stiff, use lubricating oil. Make sure that none of the parts have damages before temporarily removing them away.

Step #4

If none of the stems or handles are broken, the problem probably lies with the broken O-ring or washers. Inspect them to see if you can notice any damage. 

You should remove the washer and place a replacement one inside the seat. Sometimes, the only thing that should be replaced is the worn-out O-rings. If the O-rings are what’s causing the issue, simply roll them off of the washer and place the new ones. Make sure they are an exact fit, as otherwise, this can cause leaks as well. If you aren’t certain about the size, feel free to take the old O-rings to the hardware store and ask the clerk to verify the exact size. If you are the shy type, you can always get yourself a package with several different sizes of O-rings. Keep in mind that these sets typically cost a bit more money. 

If the washer is broken, you should place new O-rings on it, as well. Using old ones is a waste of time, as they will most likely break in no time.

Step #5

Reassemble all the parts in the opposite order. Make sure you clean and lubricate everything beforehand, as this can prolong the sink’s lifespan. Turn the water supply back on and test the sink. It should work properly now.

What to Do if the Faucet Is Still Dripping?

If you still notice leaks, this doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t know how to stop a dripping faucet. Sometimes, the cause can be more serious, such as a damaged valve seat. If the valve seat has corrosions that haven’t been removed in time, it can break and leak. Other issues might be with loose parts, worn-out seals or, the worst-case scenario, broken pipes. If you suspect any of these issues, you should contact your plumber immediately. 

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