The hubs and I finally got baby E sleeping in his own bed and experienced that elusive pleasure that can only be found after a full eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, when the next villain entered the scene to rob me to my much-needed beauty rest: the ever present drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet. Never daunted, I went out to the tool shed, collected some simple tools and headed back into the bathroom to give that faucet a piece of my mind.
Flat head screw driver
Machine oil (optional)
Packing or duct tape (optional)
White vinegar (optional)
Turn off the water! As fun as your little peanuts will think an indoor sprinkler party would be, this is an imperative step for your sanity and success. The valves for a bathroom or kitchen sink should be found directly under the sink. Turn them both clockwise (righty tighty) until they stop.
Next, turn on the tap to release any water remaining in the fixture.
Using a flat head screw driver, gently pry up the handles of your fixture. Some handles have a screw strategically placed under a decorative cap. Others simply have a housing fitted snugly over the stem. Carefully remove your handles and set them aside on the paper towel.
Remove the packing nut from the assembly with a pair of pliers or a wrench. This is where the tape can come in handy. You want to be careful not to scar the packing nut, so you can wrap a small scrap of tape around either end of your pliers/ wrench to create a buffer. You might need the oil (WD-40 or some other lubricant) in this process to loosen up the connections and make disassembly easier.
Take apart the assembly and examine it. You will see a washer and an O-ring, which are the usual culprits. If these look pitted, eroded, or otherwise damaged, replace them. Unless you are a big fan of this process and want to repeat it, it is CRUCIAL to get the exact same washer or O-ring to replace your damaged ones. I recommend you take the extracted parts to your friendly, local hardware store and ask someone to help you find it’s match.
Reassemble the assembly. Put the washer on the seat and then replace the nut and the stem. Replace the handle over the stem after you’ve tightened down the nut. You can use the vinegar here, if necessary, to polish up any buildup or water spots that may have developed over time.
Turn the water back on from under the sink (lefty loosey), turn on your faucet and do a happy dance. If the faucet is still leaking, that could be because of a faulty valve seat or faucet packing. There are tutorials for these as well, but you can also replace your entire faucet fixture for less than thirty dollars. Considering that you’ve probably been wrestling tools from the toddler and trying to keep the baby from eating faucet bits this entire time, it might be worth the investment.
Either way, you’ve stopped the leak, helped the environment, and saved yourself money all at the same time. You really are a super hero!