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How to Fix a Leaky Kitchen Faucet

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Is your leaking faucet something that you can fix on your own, or will you need professional help? You might need professional intervention if the damage reaches a certain extent or if you don’t have the necessary tools or replacement parts at your disposal.

To save you from going back and forth about whether to DIY your leaking faucet or not while savoring your morning coffee, in this piece, we’ve outlined all you need to know to make the best decision about your leaking faucet. Read on to find out more about how to diagnose your leaking faucet problem properly, all the tools you need for the repairs, and the specific steps for repairing each of the different types of kitchen faucets.

Why is your Kitchen Faucet Leaking?

Depending on the cause of the problem, you might be able to fix your leaking kitchen faucet on your own. If there are loose or worn parts that need to be replaced or refitted correctly, it might be something you can fix in a jiffy. Some parts are especially more likely to wear, corrode, or loosen over time, causing leakages, including the adjusting rings, the steam screw packing nuts, cartridges in cartridge faucets, o-rings, washers, and valve seals.

You can fix leakage issues caused by any of these parts by merely dismantling the faucet down to the last bit and then refitting everything back, replacing broken parts where necessary.
But beyond problems of this nature, you might need professional help. For instance, your faucet’s spout might be leaking not because of a faulty part, but because your home’s water pressure isn’t well-balanced. In other cases, the leakage might be coming from the pipes underneath the sink. In any of these cases, you’ll most likely need to call in a professional.

Preparations for Fixing your Leaking Faucet

If you’ve decided to go at it on your own, first, you need to determine what type of faucet you’re dealing with. There are four types: compression faucets, ball faucets, cartridge faucets, and ceramic-disk faucet. Compression faucets are easy to distinguish because they’re the only ones with two screw handles, each dedicated to hot and cold water. The internal system distinguishes the rest under their single handle. A ball faucet has a ball bearing system, a cartridge faucet, a cartridge system, and a ceramic-disk faucet, a ceramic cylinder system.

After you’ve figured out what type of kitchen faucet you’re using, you can then follow the steps for repairs for that particular type, as outlined below. But before jumping into the repairs, turn off the water and plug the drain. You don’t want a constant jet stream of water getting in your way, nor any of the screws or other tiny components plunging down the drain.

How to Fix a Compression Faucet

Gently unscrew the handles completely to remove them (rip out any decorative covering, if necessary). Using a wrench, remove the nut holding the stem to the O-ring, and then pull out the stem to reveal the O-ring and the seat washer (the seat washer is the thicker rubber band). Worn seat washers usually cause leakages in compression faucets, but it’s advisable to take all the dismantled parts to a hardware store to determine which one needs replacement.

Once you’re done sorting out replacements, couple everything back in place by reversing the steps you took to dismantle them. It would help if you coated the seat washer with nontoxic, heat-proof plumber’s grease before putting it back in place for seat washer problems.

How to Fix a Ball Faucet

Given the relatively larger number of parts in ball faucets, it’s usually much more difficult to identify broken parts in them. Therefore, it’s advisable to buy an entire faucet cam assembly kit, which contains the majority of the moving parts and costs about $20.

With the replacement kit in place, remove the handle by carefully unscrewing the hex-headed screw underneath its index cover. Remove the cap and cover using adjustable pliers. Now, dismantle the rest of the parts using the tools in your replacement kit. Loosen the faucet cam, washer, and ball (a ‘ball and socket’ setup), the inlet seals and springs (for these, you might need needle-nose pliers to reach deeper inside the system).

Some parts you should replace include the O-rings, springs, valve seats, and cam washers (they’re all included in the replacement kit). Coat the new O-rings with plumber’s grease before assembling them, and use a pencil to lower the springs and valve seats in place. Finally, reinstall the handles, and that should solve the problem.

How to Fix a Cartridge Faucet

As with the others, begin by taking out the handle. Tear out the labeling on it and unscrew it, bend it backward and then lift it out. Pull out the retaining clip – a circular threaded strip that fastens the cartridge in place – using pliers, and then pull up the cartridge into an upright position (as it stands when the tap is turned on to the max). Please take out the spout, cut out the O-rings, and replace them with new ones coated with nontoxic, heat-proof plumber’s grease. Replace the cartridge as well and then reinstall the handle.

How to Fix a Ceramic Cylinder Faucet

Unscrew and lift off the handle, remove the escutcheon – a metallic cap underneath the handle, and then unscrew and lift out the disk cylinder. Use a blunt screwdriver to scrape out the neoprene seals you’ll on the cylinder, and then soak them in white vinegar for several hours to loosen the debris buildup on them to help you quickly determine whether they need a replacement. Also, clean the cylinder openings using white vinegar and a soft scouring pad. Reassemble all the parts, replacing the seals or even the cylinder if necessary. Turn on the water gently because the ceramic disk can easily crack when exposed to high water pressure.

Still can’t stop your kitchen faucet from leaking on your own? As noted earlier, the problem might be more complicated than they need for replacement parts. Reach out to us today for a prompt, professional intervention if you can’t tackle your leaking faucet independently.