Why Is My Faucet Leaking?
Drip, drip, drip. Is there anything more annoying than a leaky faucet? The constant drip into a sink or tub in a quiet home is enough to make anyone go crazy. As you lie awake at night listening to the repetitive sound, you’re probably asking yourself, why on earth is my faucet dripping? and, better yet, how do I fix it?
Ignoring a leaking faucet could lead to sleepless nights, high water bills, and water stains. Here are the most common reasons taps can start to leak and what to do about them.
Common Reasons Faucets Leak
A leaky sink can be a nuisance, but if you don’t know the root of the problem, your efforts to fix it may worsen the leak, or you might spend far more than you need to on a replacement. Follow these tips to identify the problem and stop the pesky leak before it gets worse.
1. Problems with the Washer
One of the most common reasons a faucet starts to leak is a worn-out washer. When a tap is in use, the washer is pushed up against the valve seat. This friction can cause the washer to wear out over time. Drips can also occur if the washer is the wrong size or if someone incorrectly installed it. If the washer is the issue, you will notice a leak at the spout. Replacing the washer should fix the leak in your compression faucet.
2. Issues with the O-Ring
A frequent problem seen in cartridge faucets is a worn-out or loose O-ring. A screw holds the faucet handle in place, and a small disc known as the O-ring is attached to this stem screw. An O-ring can wear out or become loose after repetitive use, which can cause a faucet to leak around the handle area. If this is indeed the issue, replace the O-ring to remedy your leaky faucet.
3. Corroded Valve Seat
The valve seat acts as the connection between the faucet and the spout. Mineral deposits left behind by water can corrode the valve seat and cause leaking around the spout. Depending on the type of faucet, you may or may not be able to remove and replace the corroded valve seat.
4. Worn Out Cartridge
Another common reason for a leak in a cartridge faucet is the cartridge itself. Replacing the worn cartridge should do the trick if this is the issue. When replacing this, be sure to get the same cartridge to fit the gap correctly. Measure the old cartridge before and after removal to ensure you get the correct size.
5. Worn Seals
Seals are crucial parts of a faucet’s mechanisms. After repeated usage, water can leave behind sediment and mineral deposits. These substances can damage the seals and render them ineffective. If you’re an experienced DIYer, you can replace worn seals yourself. If you’re not, call a professional plumber to do it for you.
6. Loose Parts
The constant use of your faucet can cause various pieces in your faucet to loosen. The adjusting ring or packing nut inside the stem screw may become loose, causing your tap to leak. Carefully tighten these parts to see if it stops the leaking.
7. Water Pressure
If your faucet's drip isn't constant and nagging but only happens at certain times of the day or when you’re doing certain things around the house, the issue could be your water pressure. If your water pressure is too high, it can prevent water from flowing away from a particular area properly, causing it to leak out of another place, like a faucet. Call a professional plumber to assess your water pressure and adjust it if necessary.
8. Broken Plumbing
A more severe cause of leaky faucets can be broken, damaged, or corroded pipes and fittings. Broken or corroding pipes develop cracks that can interfere with your home’s water pressure and lead to dripping faucets.
If you think your faucet may be dripping due to damaged plumbing, call a plumbing repair service professional immediately. Whether it's a broken pipe leading to a faucet leak or a substantial leak directly related to the plumbing in the area underneath your sink, it’s best to leave this situation to the pros. When it comes to this type of leak, time is of the essence. The longer you put off having it repaired, the more damage will be done, and the more expensive the problem will be to fix.
How to Fix Your Dripping Faucet Problem
- Turn the water supply to your faucet off before you attempt to make any repairs. This will make the repair process more manageable and prevent you from making a bigger mess.
- Check the trouble areas mentioned above. You may be able to identify a problem right away, or it may take a little investigation.
- If you find nothing broken or damaged, try tightening any loose pieces. Be careful not to over-tighten, or you may end up breaking something.
- If any parts are broken, take a trip to a hardware store to find replacements. If your faucet is less than ten years old, the whole thing probably doesn’t need to be replaced. You can save quite a bit of money by replacing smaller parts.
- Test your faucet to see if the leak has stopped. If it has, congratulations! You’ve fixed your faucet. If it hasn’t, call a plumber to assist you.
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