Let's fix a leaky faucet. Drip, drip, drip...that's the annoying sound of money going down the drain

fix a leaky faucet
To fix a leaky faucet is an easy job and shouldn't take more than an hour or so. That drip can be quite an annoyance but more importantly it's wasteful of the precious resource of water and it can be expensive to you.

There are about four types of faucets in use today, they are the washer style (compression), ball, cartridge and ceramic disk. Your faucet should be one of these types.

All of these are pretty simple fixes so you're first job is to determine what kind of faucet you have dripping then you can begin the repair job.

Most washer styles (compression) are the two handle kinds like in your bathrooms.

The ball styles are the newer ones in your bathroom or kitchen that have only one handle that you push right or left and rotate or lift and push back to turn on. Most newer kitchen faucets are ball style.

The cartridge style is probably the kitchen sink with one handle that pushes right or left but lifts up instead of rotating on a ball.

The ceramic disk style is very similar to the cartridge type except that the insides are different.

Okay now that you have figured out what type you have let's go.

  • Pliers
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Allen wrench set
  • Phillips and slotted screwdriver
  • Rags
  • Bucket

Visit our tools page for more information on these.

If you know the model of your faucet, you can call the hardware store and ask them if they have a repair/replacement kit on hand. If you don't and most of us don't know, then you'll have to take the faucet apart and bring in the insides for them to find one for you.

So to fix a leaky faucet, first turn OFF the water supply to the faucet.
Look under the sink for two valves, one cold and one hot. Even if you have separate hot and cold handles turn them both off just to be sure, then plug the sink drain. Many a tiny part or screw has fallen down the drain and thus precipitates a removing of the trap to get it back. Why create more work when you can prevent it by plugging the drain. No plug? Lay a towel in the sink to cover the hole.

*If you should have to get something out of the drain, please visit the clogged sink page.

There should be a "set screw" somewhere on the handle. It's usually located in the back where it's really hard to see and get to but it's probably there. It may be under a decorative cap on the top of the handle where the C(cold) or H(hot) is. Remove it and take off the handle.


compression faucet
A repair kit will be needed to fix a leaky faucet of this type. Remove the retaining nut and then pull out the stem.
The bottom of the stem contains a washer with a screw holding it in. Replace this washer and rescrew the part on. Some faucets have a cartridge that has all the moving parts, if this is your case then replace the entire cartridge. It may take some time for the new washer to get snug but this should only take a couple of days. This should fix your drip.

ball faucet
To fix a leaky faucet on a ball faucet, a repair kit will be needed.
First thing you need to do is remove the set screw and remove the handle. Now loosen the adjusting ring to release the tension on the ball, the wrench needed is usually included in the reapir kit. Unscrew the cap and and remove the plastic cam holding the ball in place then remove the gasket and ball.
Using needle nosed pliers, remove the rubber seals and springs that were underneath the ball. Clean out any build up or deposits. Remove the spout and replace the o-rings underneath the spout while you're at it. They may not need replacing but hey, you're already in there so why not.
When replacing the o-rings, put a little valve grease on the rings first. Now reassemble the faucet in reverse order and open the the handle a quarter to half. Turn on the water valves under the sink and let the water run for a few minutes and check for leaks.
If no leaks then you just fixed a leaky faucet.


A new cartridge kit will be needed for this leaky faucet repair. Remove the cap and unscrew the set screw. Take off the handle, and handle assembly and the spout. If there is a screw holding the spout, remove it too.
If you have a sprayer on the faucet then you'll have to remove a collar holding it in. Now remove the retaining clip (u-shaped clip).
Now remove the cartridge and clean out any build up or gunk from the housing. Replace the o-rings of the faucet just to be sure. Put some valve grease on the new cartridge and insert it into the housing.
Make sure that the notch in the new cartrdge is facing the sink bowl. Now replace the clip and reassemble the faucet in reverse order.
Check the faucet by opening the faucet about halfway and turn on the water supply. Let it run for a few minutes and if no leaks, you fixed a leaky faucet.


These types of faucets are very similar to the ball types. Remove the set screw and handle. Remove the ceramic disk assembly and clean out any gunk. Now replace the rubber seals located in the spout assembly.
Reassemble the faucet in reverse order and test the faucet by opening the handle halfway and turning on the water supply.
If no leaks you just fixed a leaky faucet. If there are leaks then replace the ceramic disk.

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