Fixing A Leaky Compression Faucet

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If you have a leaky faucet, you're wasting not only water, but dollars on your utility bill. According to the EPA, a faucet that drips once each second will waste more than 3,000 gallons of water in one year. Save the water and money by fixing those leaky faucets. Here is how to repair the common compression faucet found in most homes.

Compression Faucet Anatomy

If you have separate hot and cold water controls on your kitchen, bathroom or washroom utility sinks, these are likely compression faucets. A metal stem screws down into the faucet. The water is controlled by turning the handle which moves the stem up and down in the faucet, allowing water to flow. At the bottom of the stem is a washer which, when cracked or worn, can allow water to leak when the faucet is closed. The following steps walk you through changing this washer, which will fix your leak.

Fixing Your Compression Faucet

You'll need the following tools:

  • screwdriver
  • pliers

The easiest way to make sure you have the replacement parts is to disassemble the faucet and take the parts to the plumbing supply store to match the washers.

  1. Turn off the water under the sink. If you don't have a water shutoff valve under sink, you'll have to shut the water off to the entire house. At some point in the future, have a plumber come in and install a shutoff valve to make repairs easier.
  2. Turn the faucet on to let any water drain out.
  3. Pull the decorative cap off of the handle that says "H" or "C," depending on which faucet you're repairing.
  4. Unscrew the handle and pull up to remove.
  5. Using the pliers, unscrew the large nut holding the stem in place.
  6. Unscrew the stem from the faucet.
  7. The stem will have a rubber o-ring near the top which sits in a groove in the stem. It will also have a flat washer at the very bottom, held in place by a screw. Take the stem to the plumbing shop and match the o-ring and washer. While at the shop, buy a small tube of plumbing grease.
  8. When you get home, remove the old o-ring by slipping it off. Slide the new o-ring into place and coat it with a small amount of the plumbing grease.
  9. Unscrew the flat washer from the bottom of the stem and attach the new washer. You don't need plumbing grease here.
  10. Screw the stem back into the faucet.
  11. Screw the large nut onto the stem to secure it into the faucet.
  12. Place the handle back onto the stem and secure with the screw. Replace the decorative cap.
  13. Turn the water back on to the faucet and check for leaks.

If you have any problems taking an old faucet apart, you may be dealing with rust or corrosion. Have one of the local plumbing contractors like one from Hager Plumbing come out and fix that faucet, or have them put in a new and more efficient design.

For a few dollars and a few minutes of your time, you can stop those leaky faucets, get rid of the annoying dripping sound, and save on your water bill.

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