You may have adapted to the continuous dripping sound of a kitchen faucet such that it doesn’t keep you awake anymore, especially at night.
However, you should fix it despite getting used to the annoying sound. A leaking faucet leads to a lot of water wastage.
You’ll be surprised to learn that a leaking faucet can waste at least three gallons of water every day. You’re actually paying for the wasted water. Thus, you should treat water as a precious natural resource.
There’s absolutely no reason whatsoever to waste any drop of water. Stopping a leaky faucet is a very easy home improvement task. The problem is often as a result of a worn-out O-ring or rubber gasket.
In case the issue is a damaged hardware fitting, then you can replace the fitting to fix the problem. Valve seats that are screwed into the body of a faucet can also cause leaks in case they’re worn out.
Know the Design of Your Faucet
There’re four faucet designs and styles manufactured today. These designs have been incorporated into most kitchen faucets available today.
You should know the design of your faucet valve to stand a better chance of figuring out why it’s leaking before you remove it. These valve designs include:
These are the most commonly available valve designs in most faucets. Most single-handle kitchen faucets use this kind of valve design. You can also find double-handle kitchen faucets with this valve style.
This kind of valve design has a cylindrical housing within which the cartridge is housed. The rubber components of the cartridge may require replacement, especially if they’re worn out.
These rubber components include the O-rings surrounding the cartridge and the gasket within the valve seat inlet holes.
These valves are one of the oldest and simplest in design, making them extremely easy to fix. Compression valves are only used in faucets with two handles.
In these faucets, you open or close the faucet by turning the faucet handle several turns. The compression valve usually has a valve stem that is screwed downwards.
This valve stem comes with a washer made of rubber. In case this type of valve leaks, you’ll simply replace the worn-out washer to fix it.
Ceramic disk faucet valve
If the kitchen faucet comes with two handles, and each handle can only be turned 90 degrees, then you’re probably dealing with a ceramic disk type of valve. This valve design looks like the cartridge design.
This valve is removable, but you may have to unscrew a number of screws to access and remove the valve. This valve design is not prone to leaks.
However, not all faucets with a ceramic disk type of valve come with handles. Also, not all faucets with two handles that rotate 90 degrees have the ceramic disk type of valve.
Some of such faucets feature less durable cartridge valves made of plastic. Repairing ceramic disk faucet valves may require replacing the valve seats made of rubber or replacing the complete disk cartridge.
Ball-style faucet valves
In case your faucet comes with one handle and a dome-shaped faucet body, then you’re probably dealing with a ball-style valve.
In this type of valve, the components that leak are probably the rubber gasket or the spring. The gaskets are located within the valve inlet holes whereas the spring pushes the gaskets onto the ball.
At times, the ball may be cracked or nicked and thereby require replacement.
You might be lucky to find a manufacturer logo or label on the faucet handle cap. This may give you a clue about the faucet mechanism.
For instance, if the logo is Delta, then you’re probably dealing with a ball-style valve. If the logo is Moen, then you have a cartridge type of valve since Moen only deals with cartridge valve faucets.
Other faucet manufacturers such as Grohe, American Standard, Pfister, Kohler, Sisco, and others mainly deal with compression and cartridge valve faucets.
Fixing a Leaky Faucet
Here’re the tools and supplies you’ll need for the job:
- Hex wrench
- Phillips screwdriver
- Flat-head type of screwdriver
- Replacement washers or seals
- Valve seat type of wrench (where applicable)
- Plumber’s grease
Step 1: Shut off the faucet’s water supply
Before opening up anything, you need to completely shut off the water supply to the faucet to avoid flooding your home or wasting water. You can find the valves that shut off water to the faucet beneath the sink. The valves may be located at the stub-out pipes or the supply tubes connected to the tailpieces of the faucet. Turn the valves clockwise until they’re unable to turn any more. Next, turn the faucets to relieve any water pressure within the supply tubes and faucet.
Step 2: Detach the handle
Check for a cap on the handle of the faucet and remove it. The cap usually hides the screw that holds the handle onto the body of the faucet.
The cap may have the logo of the manufacturer on it. You can use a flat screwdriver to wedge the cap and pry it upwards to remove it.
Next, use the hex wrench or Phillips screwdriver to turn the screw and remove it. You can easily lift off the handle once the screw comes off.
In case your faucet is quite old, then the handle might be stuck on the stem due to mineral buildup. In this case, use a hammer to tap the handle lightly to break the bond.
Useful tip: In case the faucet handle is completely stuck, then you may have to use a faucet handle puller tool to detach it.
The handle puller looks like a corkscrew. You can easily find it from your local plumbing or hardware store.
Step 3: Removing the faucet valve insert
Upon removing the handle, you’ll need to remove the collar or retaining nut with a wrench. In case there’s a pin, use pliers to pull it off.
If you’re working with a Moen type of faucet, then you’ll probably see a pin. Upon removing the pin, collar, or nut, then lift the faucet valve insert, which may be a ceramic disk, cartridge, or ball insert.
In case the valve is a ball-style valve, then use your hand to unscrew the collar. Be careful when removing the ball to avoid the spring-loaded valve housing from popping out and going down the drainage.
Useful tip: In case the handle is stuck due to mineral buildup, and you’re working with a cartridge valve faucet, then there’s a possibility of the cartridge being stuck.
In the event that you’re unable to remove the stem with a pair of pliers, then try using a valve cartridge puller. You can get this tool from your local hardware or plumbing store.
Step 4: Replacing the rubber components
The parts that come with the valve vary depending on the type of valve. In most cartridge and ball-valve faucets, you’ll probably find some rubber gaskets within the inlet holes.
Remove them with any screwdriver that may fit in. Then replace them. You can find a matching model for the replacement from your local hardware store.
In case the faucet features a cartridge, then replace its O-rings. In the faucet features a compression type of valve, then remove the screw that is holding the valve washer on the stem. Next, get a washer replacement and install it.
Useful tip: It’ll help to apply some plumber’s grease around the O-rings and rubber gaskets before installation. The grease will lubricate them and reinforce the seal for a tight fit.
Step 5: Do some inspection on the hardware
As you service a ball-type valve faucet, it is the best time to replace all the washers and the ball itself. Most ball faucet repair kits come with a replacement ball.
When opening up the cartridge, inspect it for cracks and nicks. If you notice any cracks or nicks, then it’s time to replace the cartridge.
Sometimes, it’s advisable to replace old plastic cartridges regardless of whether they have a problem or not. Plastic cartridges are inexpensive, so you won’t have any trouble replacing them.
Step 6: Reassembling and testing the faucet
Once you’ve replaced the damaged components, it’s now time to reassemble the faucet and test it. Start with reinstalling the valve. Next, tighten the collar, retaining pin, or retaining nut.
Then set the faucet handle in place. Tighten the screw that holds the handle in place. Then put the cap on the handle to keep the screw hidden.
Once you’ve secured everything, open the valves you had closed for water to flow to the faucets. Turn on your faucet to ensure that water is running. Then turn the faucet off to confirm whether it has stopped leaking.
Replacing the Faucet Valve Seat
In case the compression type of faucet is still leaking from its spout despite servicing the valve, then it’s possible that the faucet valve seat is nicked or cracked.
The faucet valve seat consists of a metallic component which is threaded and screwed into the valve base. You should use the seat type wrench to remove the faucet valve seat. This wrench resembles the taper hex type of wrench.
You’ll need to detach the valve once again. Then insert the wrench deep within the housing of the valve until it fills the hexagonally shaped hole.
Next, rotate the wrench in a counterclockwise direction to remove the valve seat. You’ll easily find replacements in your local hardware stores.
You can carry the old faucet valve seat with you when buying a replacement to ensure you purchase a matching replacement.