So you’ve got a leaky faucet. Don’t throw out your faucet or call a plumber yet, you may be able to save some money and fix it yourself. Every homeowner should learn basic plumbing skills, including but not limited to, how to unclog a toilet or fix a leaky faucet. Fixing a leaky faucet is a great way to get your feet wet and begin your career as a do-it yourselfer. Tools you’ll need: a step stool, flashlight, an Allen wrench and/or Phillips screwdriver set, an adjustable wrench, a bit of muscle power and some patience.
First off, do you have a single handle faucet, or a double handle faucet? If it’s a single, go to step 1. If it’s a double, go directly to step 6.
Step 1: For single handle faucets. Locate the water shut off valves under your sink. Turn both of them to the off position.
Step 2: Find the set screw on the faucet handle, it will likely be on the back side of the faucet; you may need a step stool and flashlight to get back behind the faucet to find the silly thing. What type of screw head do you see? It is likely an Allen tip? Or a Phillips head? Whichever one it is, go grab a selection of screwdrivers that look close to the size you need, then return to the faucet.
Step 3: Use the appropriate size tip to take the screw out, remove the handle. Next, determine which type of faucet ball/cartridge you have. There may be another screw that needs to come out, this means it’s a “ball” style. If there’s no screw, then it’s a cartridge, simply pull it out, you may have to wiggle it a little. Some muscle may be needed! When you’re done, see if you can find the brand name of your faucet, it may be written on the front, side, or bottom of your faucet; write that down somewhere.
Step 4: Take your ball or cartridge to your local hardware store; it may be necessary to stand helplessly in the plumbing aisle, with a bewildered look on your face, waiting for help to arrive. If this tactic doesn’t work, or if you feel knowledgeable enough to find your replacement part, solo, then begin looking for a packaged ball/cartridge similar to the one you’re holding. Remember the brand name? It is handy to know the brand of faucet you own, most manufacturers are kind enough to use a few general ball/cartridge styles, this should save you some time when searching for your replacement part.
Step 5: Arrive home with your treasure, aka replacement part. Insert your ball/cartridge pretty much the same way you took the other one out. Replace the handle. Your faucet should now work like it’s fresh out of the factory!
Step 6: For double handle faucets. Locate the water shut off under sink; turn off the cold water ONLY. Wait a few minutes, is your faucet still leaking? If not, then you’ve found your leak! The cold water handle is your culprit. Go to step 7. If it’s still leaking, then this means that your hot water handle is the problem. Now you may go to step 7.
Step 7: This is where the flashlight and step stool may come in handy; you’ll need to locate a screw in the guilty faucet’s handle (remembering if the leak is coming from the hot or cold as directed in step 6). The screw will either be in the back or on the top. Find the appropriate screwdriver, be it an Allen, Phillips or flat, and remove the screw and handle.
Step 8: Using a wrench, unscrew the faucet stem. This one, like in step 3, may require a bit of muscle. Remove the stem, typically counter clockwise. On the bottom of the stem, there should be a screw with a washer.
Step 9: Now, go to steps 4 and 5 and follow each step. This should result in a leak free faucet. There is, however, one exception to the rule; if your faucet is ultra-cheap, you may not have the option of removing or replacing any of the parts, which means you’ll need a whole new faucet.
Good luck to you!