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Fixing a Leaky Faucet

Two handled faucets that use washers and seats require regular maintenance to keep them from leaking through the spigot. The washers dry out and seats become worn or covered with scale and should be replaced. One handled faucets use a cartridge system that is another project. Before you start, turn the water to the house off. Please note that the procedure detailed below is necessarily generic as there are many variations used by manufacturers.

Step 1:

Remove the handle from the stem (Fig. 1). There is normally a screw that holds the knob onto the stem. On some knobs, the screw is concealed by a plate (normally with an "H" or a "C" on it). Use a thin screwdriver to pry up the plate and remove the screw. Sometimes the handle seems stuck on and might require that you gently pry around it. If the faucet in question is a tub faucet, it might also have a decorative collar. This is normally screwed on. If it is tight, cover it with a rag and use a wrench on it (Fig. 2). Be gentle though.

Step 2:

Now that the stem and bonnet are exposed, use an adjustable wrench to remove the bonnet from the faucet (Fig. 3). Place a rag into the faucet to keep the water from running out. Note: If the exposed stem is plastic, you may just have to buy a new stem.

Step 3:

Look at the end of the stem. There is normally a neoprene (rubber) washer on the end of the stem. The washer is held on by a screw. Take this screw out and take the washer off (Fig. 4). Be careful taking the washer out, it might be very brittle and when you go to the store it helps to have the old one.

Step 4:

The "seat" is next (Fig. 5). The seat is the part of the faucet that the washer closes against to shut off the water. Look into the faucet, normally the seat has a square or hexagonal hole in the middle. Insert the seat wrench (Fig. 6) into the hole and remove the seat (Fig. 7). If you have to use a lot of pressure and feel the wrench starting to strip the hole then you should stop and call a professional.

Step 5:

Take the washer and seat to the hardware store and get new ones. If the seat doesn't come with a washer, put some dope on the threads and install the new seat. Put the new washer on the end of the stem and secure with a screw. Reinstall the bonnet and stem into the faucet, turn on the water and check for leaks.

Copyright 2000,

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Fig. 5

Fig. 6

Fig. 7


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