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DIY Faucet Repair

Should I REPAIR or REPLACE my faucet?

Faucets are a key part of your home for an obvious reason:  They dispense water. Therefore, keeping your faucets in working condition is of great importance. A number of things can go wrong with your faucets, from leaks to noise. Sometimes you'll need to replace a faucet altogether to solve the problem.

A dripping faucet is the most common plumbing problem as well as one of the easiest to repair. Yet many people ignore it and leave the dripping faucet unrepaired. That costs money. A steady drip can waste $20 or more in water in a short time. Multiply that figure by the number of faucet drips in your home, and you can calculate how much of your money is literally going down the drain. The waste from a dripping hot water faucet is even more because you're also paying to heat the water before it goes down the drain. What's the solution? A drip is caused by seepage from the water supply. Remember the water supply enters your home under pressure, so there must be a watertight seal holding back the incoming water when the faucet handle is in the OFF position. That seal is usually created by a washer pressed tightly against the faucet seat. Obviously, when the washer or the seat is not functioning properly, a little water can seep through and drip out of the faucet spout. To stop the drip, all you usually have to do is replace the washer or repair the seat.

How To Fix a Leaky Faucet

The first thing to do when fixing a faucet drip is to turn off the water supply. You should be able to turn off the supply at a nearby shutoff, but if your house is not equipped with shutoffs for individual fixtures, you'll have to go to the main shutoff and turn off the entire water supply to your home. What follows are ways to address a drip in a compression-type faucet.

No matter what a compression-type faucet looks like, whether it has separate handles for hot and cold water or just one that operates both hot and cold, it operates according to certain basic principles. Here's how to disassemble a compression-type faucet and stop a drip:

Step 1:  Remove handle by removing screw or allen key screw.

Step 2:  Remove stem packing nut to access stem.  Unscrew stem from valve body.

Step 3: Remove screw that secures washer. Use penetrating oil, if necessary, to loosen screw. Examine screw and stem, replacing if damaged.

Step 4: Replace old washer with an exact replacement. Washers that almost fit will almost stop the drip. Also note whether old washer is beveled or flat, and replace it with one that is identical. Washers designed only for cold water expand greatly when they get hot, thereby closing the opening and slowing the flow of hot water. Some washers will work for either, but you should make sure the ones you buy are exact replacements.

Step 5: Fasten new washer to the stem, and reinstall assembly in faucet. Turn stem clockwise. With stem in place, put packing nut back on. Be careful not to scar metal with wrench.

Step 6: Reinstall handle and replace button or disc. Turn water supply back on, and check for leaks.

How To Repair a Faucet Valve Seat

If a faucet still drips after you've replaced a washer, there may be something wrong with the faucet valve seat. A defective washer may have allowed the metal stem to grind against the seat and leave it uneven, or chemicals in the water may have built up a residue that now prevents the washer from fitting tightly against the valve seat.

What do you do to repair a bad faucet seat? Of course, you can replace the entire faucet. Another option is to replace the seat. Removal of the old valve seat is fairly simple if you have the right tool, called a seat wrench. Insert the seat wrench into the seat and turn it counterclockwise. Once you get the old seat out, be sure the replacement seat you buy is an exact duplicate. If the valve seat is impossible to remove, insert a seat sleeve that slides into place in the old seat and provides a tight seal.

Another option is to use a valve seat grinder, or dresser, which is an inexpensive tool that will even out a worn seat. Be careful not to use this tool too long or with too much force because the seat is made of soft metal (usually brass), and you can grind too much of it away quite easily.

To use a dresser, remove the faucet stem and insert the seat grinder down to the valve seat in the faucet body. Using moderate pressure, turn the tool clockwise a few times. Then clean the valve seat with a cloth to remove any metal shavings.  Reassemble the faucet and test for leaks.

Find out more at HOME REPAIR

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