A leaky, dripping faucet can be annoying enough to keep you awake at night. And it’s not just that: A dripping faucet can waste an incredible amount of water. One drip each second can waste up to 3,000 gallons per year. That’s enough to fill close to 40 standard-sized bathtubs.
Leaks can stain sink surfaces, corrode drains, tax plumbing lines, waste energy (when the leak is hot water), and generally do nothing good for you or your home.
Fortunately, most leaky faucets can be repaired by a do-it-yourselfer—with no need to call in a plumber.
Why Your Faucet Leaks or Drips
Faucets either have sink cartridges or compression valves that open and close to control the flow of water. Most faucet leaks are the result of worn cartridges or worn stem assembly washers. Replacing these parts cures most faucet leaks.
Worn Sink Cartridge
Single- and double-faucet handle faucets often contain sink cartridges hidden under the faucet handles that control the flow of water. Made of plastic and metal, sink cartridges are self-contained and cannot be repaired—but they can be removed and replaced on a one-for-one basis.
Since sink cartridges are specific to the brand and model of faucet, you’ll need to purchase the exact type of cartridge for your bathroom or kitchen faucet.
Worn Compression Faucet Washer
Another style of faucet is the compression valve faucet. Common in older homes, compression faucets shut off the water when the faucet handle is turned, thus compressing a stem washer located within the assembly.
This soft rubber or silicone washer will slowly wear down. No matter how hard you tighten the faucet, the water never quite shuts off all the way.
Replacing the stem washer is usually the cure for this type of leak. This is a simple, inexpensive fix that takes care of most compression faucet leaks.
How to Shut Off Water to the Faucet
Turn off the water to the faucet at its closest point: directly below the sink. Open the cabinet door to locate the two braided water supply lines and two shut-off valves. Shut off each line individually by turning the knob or lever clockwise until it is tight.
If the water does not shut off completely, turn off the main water shut-off valve to the entire house. This valve is often located on the inside perimeter of the home on the side facing the street.
How to Repair a Two-Handle Cartridge Faucet
Source: The Spruce