Fixing a Leaking Faucet A Step-by-Step Guide to a Drip-Free Home

how to fix a leaking faucet


A leaking faucet is not only a nuisance but also a significant source of water wastage and increased utility bills. The incessant drip-drip sound can drive you crazy, and ignoring the issue can lead to more significant problems down the line. Fortunately, fixing a leaking faucet is a task that can be accomplished by most homeowners with the right tools and a little know-how. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps to diagnose and repair common causes of leaks in faucets, helping you save both water and money.

Gather Your Tools

Before starting any repair job, it is essential to have the necessary tools at hand. You will need an adjustable wrench, screwdrivers (both flat-head and Phillips), pliers, replacement washers and O-rings (if applicable), and plumber’s tape. Make sure to turn off the water supply to the faucet by locating the shut-off valves under the sink.

Identify the Type of Faucet

Faucets come in various types, and the repair process depends on the specific type you have. The most common types are compression faucets, cartridge faucets, ball faucets, and ceramic disc faucets. Identifying the type of faucet is crucial to understanding how it operates and what components may be causing the leak.

Fixing a Compression Faucet

Compression faucets are the oldest type and are recognized by separate hot and cold handles. To fix a leaking compression faucet

  • Use a flat-head screwdriver to remove the decorative cap on top of each handle.
  • Loosen the screws beneath the caps and remove the handles.
  • Use pliers to unscrew the packing nut.
  • Gently remove the valve stem, and you’ll find a rubber washer at the bottom.
  • Replacing the washer with a new one of the same size and coating it with plumber’s grease can help reduce friction.
  • Reassemble the faucet in the reverse order, ensuring everything is snug but not overly tight.

Repairing a Cartridge Faucet

Cartridge faucets are known for their single handle controlling both hot and cold water. To fix a leaking cartridge faucet

  • Remove the handle using an Allen wrench or a Phillips screwdriver, depending on the faucet design.
  • Take out the cartridge by using pliers to pull it straight up.
  • Check for any cracks or worn-out O-rings on the cartridge. Replace any damaged parts with new ones.
  • Reinstall the cartridge and handle, making sure they fit snugly.

Addressing a Ball Faucet Leak

Ball faucets have a single handle and are recognizable by a rounded ball-shaped cap right above the base of the spout. To repair a leaking ball faucet

  • Remove the handle by loosening the set screw with an Allen wrench.
  • Use pliers to remove the cap and collar, exposing the faucet’s cam and ball assembly.
  • Take out the cam and rubber seats and springs beneath it.
  • Inspect the seats and springs for signs of wear or damage, replacing them if necessary.
  • Reassemble the faucet in the reverse order, ensuring everything is properly aligned.

Fixing a Ceramic Disc Faucet

Ceramic disc faucets have a single lever and are recognized by their sleek design. To repair a leaking ceramic disc faucet

  • Remove the handle screw and lever, exposing the cartridge body.
  • Unscrew the cartridge nut and carefully lift out the ceramic disc cartridge.
  • Check for any cracks or debris in the cartridge and clean it thoroughly.
  • If the cartridge is damaged, replace it with a new one.
  • Reassemble the faucet, making sure the parts fit precisely back into place.


What is the common cause of dripping faucets?

A common cause of a leaking faucet is broken washers. Washers rest against the valve seat, and overtime, friction can cause the washers to wear out. This then leads to leaking. If a washer is the wrong size or not installed properly, it can also lead to leaking.

Why is my faucet dripping when off?

Washers Compression-style faucets (the ones with handles that you loosen to let out water) have rubber or plastic washers that control the water flow. These washers often wear out as they age, causing water to leak out of the faucet.

Will changing a faucet stop dripping?

If it’s the first time the faucet has sprung a leak, a repair could be a smart, cost-effective option, but if the damage is extensive or the leak keeps recurring, it might be better for your wallet, in the long run, to replace it with a new one.


Fixing a leaking faucet doesn’t require professional plumbing expertise, but it does demand patience and attention to detail. By following the step-by-step guide provided here, you can successfully diagnose and repair leaks in various faucet types. Remember to turn off the water supply before beginning any repairs, and always use high-quality replacement parts. By taking action promptly, you can save water, money, and the environment while enjoying a peaceful, drip-free home. Happy fixing!

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