How to Fix a Leaking Faucet

A leaking faucet can cause water damage. Fixing a leaky faucet is usually a matter of replacing small parts and can be accomplished with tools found in a repair kit. Before beginning, turn off the water supply.

faucet repair

Remove the handle by unscrewing its screw. Pull out the decorative part of the handle. This exposes the hex-head screw that holds the valve stem assembly in place. For more information, visit

The valve seat joins the faucet’s inlet hole and spout. A good valve seat creates a tight seal, stopping the flow of water when the handle is turned off. A bad one allows water to leak out of the inlet hole. A common cause of a leaky faucet is a worn valve seat. It can be replaced, but it’s an in-depth repair job that requires specific tools.

You can find a new valve seat at most hardware stores. They offer Brass, Monel Metal and Stainless Steel seats. Look for a replacement with the right diameter and shape to ensure a good fit. The old valve seat can be removed using a special tool, known as a seat wrench. It looks like an extra-long Allen wrench, with a hexagonal tip on one end and a square tip on the other. The tool reaches into the inlet hole and turns the screw inside that holds the seat in place. If you don’t have a seat wrench, you can try loosening the seat by hand, though this can damage the counterbore, so be careful.

Valve seats wear out for a variety of reasons, including hard water, mineral deposits and general age. They may also be damaged during the manufacturing process or by the way they’re handled. A worn valve seat will not close all the way or shut off water completely, so you’ll need to replace it to stop the drip.

Replacing a valve seat can be tricky, especially if it’s been some time since you last did this work in the kitchen or bathroom. It’s not the best first project for homeowners who have never worked with plumbing before, but it can be done with a few hours of dedicated effort and some specialty tools. The key is to have a clear idea of what you’re doing, so be sure to review any instructional videos or manuals before beginning. You’ll also need a tool called a valve seat grinder or dresser, which will even out the worn edges of a new or replacement valve seat.

Disc Cartridge

Cartridge faucets use a ceramic disc or a series of ceramic discs to seal and unseal water inlet ports to control flow and pressure. Over time, the cartridge can wear out or become coated with mineral deposits and lose its ability to seat properly. This can cause leaks, inability to adjust water temperature or sudden changes in hot and cold water output. When this happens, it is time to replace the cartridge. Fortunately, cartridge replacement is easy with the right tools and knowledge. Consulting the manufacturer’s instructions or a professional plumber can ensure that the process is smooth and accurate.

Generally, the first step in replacing a cartridge is to shut off the water supply valves. Next, remove the handle and any decorative trim pieces that are fastened to it with screws or snaps. Carefully unscrew the screw or snap that holds the cartridge retaining nut in place, using an adjustable wrench or pliers to avoid damaging any other components. Once the nut is loose, pull the cartridge straight up from the faucet body. Be sure to note the orientation of the cartridge, as it must be reinstalled in the same way.

Some cartridges may have a brass clip that is used to hold it in place within the faucet body. This clip is a U-shaped piece that surrounds two plastic tabs on the cartridge. Insert a flat-blade screwdriver behind the clip, or use groove-joint pliers, to gently pry it out of its retainer slot and set it aside with the other removed parts.

The ceramic discs on a cartridge faucet are near indestructible, but the rubber or silicone seals that seat them can wear out over time. This is especially true of the seals that are exposed to hot water, as they tend to deteriorate faster than those in cold water. It is important to replace the correct seals for your cartridge, as the wrong ones can lead to water leaks.

It is a good idea to purchase a cartridge faucet repair kit that includes the new rubber seals and springs, which can make the job much easier and more precise. It is also a good idea to have a can of plumber’s grease handy, as this can help you to lubricate and adjust the new parts, ensuring that they are seated correctly and that all connections are tight and secure. Once the new cartridge and other parts are in place, reassemble the faucet in reverse order of disassembly, retightening any screws or snaps as needed. Reopen the water valves and test the new faucet for water flow and temperature, adjusting as necessary.


Dripping faucets are not only annoying, they can also cause water damage to your home. It’s important to address these issues immediately so that the problem doesn’t get worse. In some cases, a little elbow grease and new seals can fix the issue. In other cases, the underlying problem may require you to replace your entire faucet.

There are many reasons for leaking faucets, but one of the most common is excessive water pressure. This can wear out the valve seat, which is located inside the faucet body and connects to the spout. The resulting hole can leak, and sediment can build up on the valve seat, causing it to erode.

Another common cause of dripping faucets is worn O-rings. These are small discs that are attached to the stem screw and hold the handle in place. To check or change the O-rings, you will need to remove the handle and other components. You can find replacement O-rings at most hardware or plumbing supply stores. Make sure you get the right size, as there are several sizes available for faucets.

If you have a cartridge-style faucet, a worn out valve seat is another common cause of dripping faucets. This can happen over time, as the washer wears out and doesn’t seal the seat anymore. The good news is that this is an easy fix. You can buy a kit that includes all the necessary parts for the repair at most hardware or plumbing supply stores.

The kit typically contains the cam washer, a plastic cam and packing, the rubber seat and springs and a stainless steel ball. To replace the valve seat, unscrew the cam cap by turning it counterclockwise with a wrench or screwdriver. Then remove the old seat and springs, and slip a new valve seat and washer into place.

You can use plumbers’ putty to seal the valve seat, but be careful not to overtighten or you could crack the faucet body. You can also use a sealant made specifically for sinks, which is more durable and comes in a variety of colors to match your sink. Be sure to use a waterproof sealant so that it will prevent mold and mildew from growing under the faucet.


Most faucets have internal “stops” that limit how much the handle can turn to allow you to control the flow of water. When one of these is stripped or worn, the faucet handle often feels loose or will spin on end. Fortunately, this is a relatively simple repair that can be done without professional help. First, shut off your house water supply by turning off the valves underneath your sink and at the main line coming into your home. This step eliminates the possibility of flooding your bathroom if you accidentally damage any plumbing components while performing the faucet handle repair.

Next, carefully examine the handle to determine how it is attached to the stem and base plate. Most porcelain handles are held to the valve stem by a setscrew. The screw may be located on the side or back of the handle base, or it might be hidden beneath a decorative cap, button, or plug that you’ll have to pry off. Once you find the set screw, unscrew it and remove the handle.

Reassemble the faucet, following the steps you used to disassemble it. Then, screw the handle back onto the stem and tighten it clockwise to make sure it’s securely in place. Finally, reconnect the water supply and test the handle to ensure it’s working properly.

If your faucet is leaking or you’re not satisfied with the way it looks, replacing the handle can give it a new lease on life. Our wide selection of stylish replacement faucet handles comes in a variety of designs to suit your tastes, so you can find the perfect match for your bathroom.

We also offer a number of faucet kits that include everything you need to fix your leaky faucet, including the cartridge and other necessary parts. Once you’ve replaced the old cartridge and reassembled the faucet, be sure to use a bit of the plumber’s grease to lubricate the new cartridge to prevent future leaks. With a little patience and the right tools, you can save money by fixing your leaky faucet rather than calling a plumber.

Larry Cook