As a resident of San Diego or the surrounding areas, you know how annoying the sound of and drain on your water bill a leaking faucet is. Assuming the cause of the drip (or stream) isn’t serious enough to require the aid of a plumbing specialist, a leaky spigot can be a fairly easy, inexpensive repair to do yourself. There are four different kinds of faucets: ball type, cartridge, ceramic disk (all washerless faucets), or compression (washer).
Why Faucets Leak
As water enters the faucet from the pipes, it does so from the force of pressure. The only thing preventing water from flowing while the spigot is turned off is a waterproof seal, consisting of a seat washer (usually rubber) compressed onto a spigot seat. The most common method to fix a leak is to halt the drip caused typically by a broken washer or seat. For any repair you will first want to turn off the water source, either at the faucet itself or if necessary the main water valve to the house.
How to Stop the Leak
Locate, unscrew, and take off the faucet handle(s). The packing nut must then be taken off with either the appropriate wrench or pliers and subsequently the faucet stem, rotating it as you would the faucet handle. Unscrew the washer. If any of these parts are unusable, replace them. The washer must be replaced only with one just like it in both design and size, or it won’t completely prevent leakage. When the new washer is in place, reverse the faucet removal method exactly to put the unit back together. Upon your testing, if the leaking still exists the problem may lie with the faucet valve seat itself.
Sometimes chemical and mineral accumulation around or the faucet stem grating against and warping the seat prevents the necessary watertight seal. At this point, besides getting a completely new faucet, you can either use a specially designed wrench to remove and replace the valve seat with an identical one or use a seat dresser tool to smooth the old one by a few gently firm, clockwise rotations inside the seat, washing it afterward. Should your faucet be one of the other washerless types, each has a unique sealing system which may need replacement.
If the leak occurs at the base of the faucet or handles near the basin, the spigot O-ring(s) may need replacing.
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