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How to Repair Compression Faucets

 
Faucets fall into two groups, single-lever and two-handled faucets. Most older two-handled faucets work by compressing a rubber faucet washer against a valve seat to turn off the water. Hence the name compr How to Repair Compression Faucets
Sooner or later, the washer wears out. And that's when the dripping starts.
 
Do It Yourself
If a stem faucet drips from the spout, you probably need to replace one of the washers that seals against the valve seats. If it drips from the handle, you'll need to replace either the fiber washer under the packing nut or the O-ring. The washers on the hot side of a stem faucet wear out twice as often as those on the cold side. To figure out whether the hot or cold valve is leaking, shut off one angle stop under the sink. Repair the side that stops the drip.
 
 
Step by Step
1. Turn off the water. Find the angle stops on the wall under the sink and turn the handles clockwise. Turn on the faucet to see if you've succeeded. The valves may not completely shut the water off, but you can work on your faucets even with a slow seep.
 
2. Remove the faucet handle. If there's a decorative cap over the handle screw, pry it off with a screwdriver blade. Remove the handle screw and handle. If the handle doesn't budge when you wiggle it, DON'T FORCE IT! Gentle prying with a screwdriver is OK, but if it's really stuck, get a faucet-handle puller to lift it off.
 
3. Remove the stem. Use an adjustable wrench to remove the packing nut. Turning counterclockwise loosens this nut. Then put the handle back on without its screw and use it to twist the faucet stem out.
 
4. Replace the faucet washer. Remove the brass screw at the stem's base and pry out the worn washer. Press in a new washer and reinstall the brass screw.
 
5. Replace the O-ring and fiber washer. If the faucet leaks around the handle, one or both of these seals are worn out. Might as well pry out the old ones and replace both while you're at it.
 
6. Reassemble the faucet. While you have the valve apart, lubricate the stem threads with lead-free plumber's grease. Thread the stem back into the faucet body, then thread the packing nut on top of that. Tighten the packing nut clockwise with the adjustable wrench no more than a quarter turn past the point of resistance.
 
Tip from the pros: If you remove the stem and don't have the right size washer on hand, just flip over the old washer and reinstall it. Though it won't last as long, the back side of the old washer should stop the leak until you get the right washer.
 
7. Turn the water back on. Open the angle stops and check for leaks from both the handles and spout. Then replace the handle and screw.
 
Hire a Pro
If changing faucet washers and seals goes quickly, you may pay a premium for a service call. The task may take a pro as little as 15 minutes. To make a plumber's visit cost-effective, combine this with additional tasks such as servicing other faucets and leaky outdoor spigots or even inspecting your water heater.
 
Money-Saving Tip
If you hire a plumber to replace washers and seals in your faucets, have both hot and cold seals serviced. You'll pay a little more for the extra time, but you'll probably save another service call.
 
Old House Tip
If you have less water flow after a plumbing repair when you turn the water back on, rust is probably lodged in the faucet. Old steel pipes (especially hot water lines) rust on the inside. When you turn the water back on, rust scales break loose and lodge in the faucet. To clear them out, unscrew the faucet aerator and rinse it.
 
 

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