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How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

We always recommend that homeowners call a licensed plumber to fix a leaking faucet because, like any other plumbing DIY project, there are many issues that can arise along the way that will increase the cost of a professional plumbing repair later on. Cracking, chipping, or scratching of the sink can easily happen if whoever is working on the repair is inexperienced. Additionally, even worse leaking (the kind that leads to home flooding damage) can occur after an improperly completed faucet repair project. For those reasons, we advise against trying to do your own faucet repairs.

However, if you’re really intent on repairing your own sink faucet, use this quick guide to give you a general idea of which steps to take:

  • If you have a dripping faucet, it’s typically either the cold or hot water input (not both), shut off each supply valve to test which is responsible for the leak.
  • Turn off the water on both sides so that flooding doesn’t occur while you disassemble it.
  • Plug the drain to avoid losing any pieces down the drain while you work and cover the sink completely with something thick enough to absorb impact in case you drop any pieces into the sink (you don’t want to scratch or crack the sink bowl).
  • Remove the aerator from the faucet. On older faucets, this may be stuck, requiring the professional touch of an experienced plumber to remove it without damaging the faucet.
  • If the aerator comes off successfully, take the rest of the parts off as well from the faucet and also the handle of the side responsible for the leak and bring the pieces in a bag to your local hardware or home improvement store. (Remember to keep notes or take pictures of what you took off from where so you can reassemble it later on.) Ask an associate to find a replacement kit for your specific faucet. It’s possible that you don’t necessarily need each item in the complete repair kit, but it’s better to get the full kit and replace anything that looks old at once to avoid the need to do multiple repairs. If you end up not using a specific part, just save it in case it fails at a later date. If the replacement kit doesn’t include an aerator, purchase a new one of those as well. They’re relatively inexpensive (especially if you buy a bulk pack) and it never hurts to replace them. Don’t forget to get some plumbers grease to make installation easier.
  • Using your faucet’s manual, replace the broken or old components with new components and test the sink to ensure that it’s no longer leaking. Keep in mind that the instructions that come with the replacement parts can serve as a backup during installation, but these are just general usage guidelines – nothing will be as accurate as your faucet’s original manual. If you can’t find the original, you may be able to find it online if you know the make/model of your sink faucet.
  • Ceramic disk faucets, compression faucets, reverse-compression faucets, and cartridge faucets will have different internal mechanisms and repair steps – refer to your manual for more specific information.
  • Turn the water back on and test the faucet to make sure that the leaking is fixed.
  • If your faucet is still dripping, call a local plumber to complete the faucet repair
Additional resources:
Do I Really Need a Plumber to Fix My Faucet?
How to Replace an Old Sink and Faucet
Fixing a Shower Faucet
Can you Install Your Own Faucet?