If it is heard, a dripping faucet can be very annoying. Slow drips add up to many gallons of wasted water per day, and leaking faucets get worse rather than better. They are not hard to repair and are considered basic plumbing work. However, the do-it-yourself type should consider what is involved with fixing a leaky faucet before getting started.
Tips for Fixing Leaky Faucets
A professional plumber has the tools needed to fix a leaky faucet. Most old and new faucets require a Phillips screwdriver, an Allen wrench and assorted open end wrenches to remove the valve that is leaking. Also, regardless if the faucet is very old and uses washers or modern cartridge assemblies, replacement parts will be needed. However, unless the original paperwork is available that came with the faucet, the exact replacement parts needed will not be known until the faucet is disassembled.
Under most sinks are shut off valves for the hot and cold water supply lines. These should be turned completely off before beginning work. Open the faucet valves to make sure no water is coming out. If water is still coming out, expert plumbing services will be needed to fix the shut off valves.
It is best to replace the washers or cartridges in both sides even if only one side is leaking. The screw or other attachment device that holds the handle onto the valve stem is likely hidden under a plastic cover or is accessible through a hole in the handle. Look for it. Loosen screws that require an Allen wrench, and completely remove any regular screws. Lift off the handle to reveal the valve stem.
An adjustable (crescent) wrench or open end wrench can be used to remove the valve stem. Be sure to attach the wrench at the lowest spot where the valve is in contact with the faucet housing. Remove the valve stem assembly by turning it counter clockwise. If a plastic cartridge comes out, pay attention to the position of any rubber O-rings. If the assembly is all metal, then it will require a rubber washer. Washers can deteriorate so badly that they fall apart when removed.
Take the valve assembly to a local plumbing supply outlet and attempt to purchase replacement parts. Re-installation goes in reverse order. If replacement parts are not available, or if they are prohibitively expensive due to the age of the faucet, installation of a new faucet is then warranted. If this occurs, it may be best to call a residential plumber to have the faucet replaced. A fast response plumber can quickly and efficiently replace an entire faucet in minutes.