How to Fix a Leaky Faucet(DIY Tips and Tricks)

Leaky faucets are a common household problem that many of us encounter. The constant dripping sound is not just annoying; it signifies the wastage of a valuable resource – water. In fact, a single drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water each year. That’s why it’s crucial to address this issue as soon as possible. Apart from conserving water, fixing a leaky faucet also helps in reducing your water bill, and it can prevent potential damage to your home. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the various types of faucets, the tools you’ll need, and a step-by-step process to fix a leaky faucet, ensuring you’re equipped to handle this task with confidence.

Understanding the Types of Faucets

Compression Faucets

This is the oldest type of faucet, commonly found in older homes. It works through a system of a washer and seat. The washer is pushed against the seat to stop the flow of water. Over time, these parts wear out, leading to leaks. Common issues include worn-out washers or a damaged seat.

Ball-Type Faucets

Ball-type faucets have a single handle that controls both the temperature and the flow of the water. Inside, there’s a ball that aligns with the faucet’s hot and cold water inlets. Wear and tear of the internal parts or a worn-out O-ring can lead to leaks.

Cartridge Faucets

Cartridge faucets can have one or two handles. Inside, there’s a cartridge that controls the flow of water. Leakage can occur if the O-rings inside wear out or if the cartridge itself needs replacement.

Disc Faucets

Disc faucets are a newer type of faucet with a single lever controlling both temperature and water flow. They have two ceramic discs at the bottom of the chamber. Leaks can occur if these discs wear out or become damaged.

Photo of a man with dark complexion, in a green polo shirt, studying a leaky faucet, with spare parts and tools spread out on the counter next to him

Tools and Materials Needed

Before you begin, gather the necessary tools and materials. You’ll need a wrench, a screwdriver, plumber’s tape, and replacement parts like O-rings or washers. Make sure to buy parts that match your faucet’s model to ensure a proper fit. It’s always a good idea to take the faulty part to the hardware store to find an exact match.

Preparing to Fix the Leaky Faucet

First, turn off the water supply to the faucet. There should be a valve under the sink; if not, you may have to shut off the main water supply to your house. Place a towel in the sink to prevent any dropped tools from causing damage and to absorb any spilled water. Keep a container nearby to store small parts as you remove them.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing a Leaky Faucet

Fixing a Compression Faucet

  1. Remove the handle: Pry off the decorative cap if there is one, and unscrew to remove the handle.
  2. Remove the packing nut: Use a wrench to remove the packing nut, exposing the stem.
  3. Inspect the parts: Check the O-ring and the washer inside the valve seat; these are usually the cause of the leak. Replace if they appear worn out.
  4. Reassemble the faucet: Put everything back in reverse order and check if the leak has stopped.

Fixing a Ball-Type Faucet

  1. Remove the handle and collar: Lift off the handle and use pliers to remove the collar.
  2. Replace the O-rings and springs: Remove the ball, replace the O-rings and springs beneath it.
  3. Check the valve seats and springs: Replace them if they appear damaged.
  4. Reassemble and test: Put everything back together and test to see if the leak has stopped.

Fixing a Cartridge Faucet

  1. Remove the handle: Take off the decorative cap (if any) and unscrew the handle.
  2. Take out the retaining clip: Use needle-nose pliers to remove the retaining clip.
  3. Pull out the cartridge: Wiggle the cartridge out of its housing.
  4. Replace the cartridge: Insert a new cartridge, making sure it’s aligned correctly.
  5. Reassemble the faucet: Put everything back together, and check for leaks.

Fixing a Disc Faucet

  1. Remove the handle: Unscrew and remove the handle.
  2. Take out the cylinder: Unscrew the cylinder and lift it out.
  3. Replace the seals: Replace the seals at the bottom of the cylinder.
  4. Clean the cylinder openings: Use vinegar to remove any buildup.
  5. Reassemble the faucet: Put everything back in place and test for leaks.

Photo of a middle-aged man with a beard, wearing a red cap and a gray shirt, bending over a sink, focusing on adjusting the faucet's valve with plier

Finishing Touches and Preventative Measures

Ensure all parts are tightly secured to prevent future leaks. Turn the water supply back on and check for leaks. Perform regular maintenance, like cleaning and checking for worn-out parts, to extend the life of your faucet. If you’re not confident about any step of the process or if the leak persists, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

If you experience low water pressure after the repair, check for any debris that might have entered the faucet. Make sure all parts are correctly assembled and tightly secured. If the faucet is still leaking, double-check that you’ve replaced all worn-out parts and that everything is properly aligned.

The Environmental and Financial Impact of Fixing a Leaky Faucet

Fixing a leaky faucet is a small step with a significant impact. You’re not just saving water; you’re also contributing to water conservation efforts and reducing your water bill. Over time, these savings can add up, making it a worthwhile investment in your home and the environment.


Fixing a leaky faucet is a task that many homeowners can handle on their own. With the right tools and a bit of patience, you can stop that annoying drip and save water and money. Remember to turn off the water supply, organize your workspace, and take your time to ensure a successful repair. And if you ever feel out of your depth, don’t hesitate to call in a professional.

FAQ Section

Q: How do I know what type of faucet I have?

Examine the faucet handle(s) and their operation. Compression faucets have separate handles for hot and cold and require a tighter turn to shut off. Ball, cartridge, and disc faucets typically have a single lever.

Q: Can I fix a leaky faucet without replacing parts?

It depends on the type of faucet and the source of the leak. Sometimes, tightening a loose part can stop the leak. However, worn-out parts usually need replacement.

Q: When should I call a professional?

If the leak persists after you’ve replaced the necessary parts, or if the repair requires tools and skills beyond what’s covered in this guide, it might be time to call a plumber.

Joxan Williams
Home Maintenance Expert | | Website

I'm a licensed home maintenance contractor with over a decade of experience, dedicated to preserving your home's value. My expertise includes roofing, gutter installation and repair, fencing, pool maintenance, deck and patio construction, plumbing, appliance repair, lawn care, painting, garage doors, windows, sump pumps, and steam heating systems.