No one likes a leaky faucet. Leaky faucets are a nuisance that most of us will encounter at some point. If left unfixed, they can result in a huge spike in your water bills and cause damage to your home.
Fortunately, leaky faucets can be fixed on your own or with the help of a plumbing professional. Read on to learn more about what causes a faucet to drip, and how to fix it.
The three most common types of faucets
Before we can address the reasons why faucets leak, it’s important to understand some of the different types as different faucets may leak for different reasons.
- Ball faucets – Ball faucets are single-handled and sit on a rounded base. They use springs, O-rings, rubber valves, cams, and an internal ball, which controls the temperature and the flow of water.
- Cartridge faucets – Cartridge faucets have a plastic piece in the pipe that controls the water flow.
- Ceramic disk faucets – Ceramic disk faucets contain two rotating ceramic disks. The disks have channels that align when rotated and allow water flow and temperature control.
It’s good to know the types of faucets in your home so you can address them accordingly.
What causes a faucet to drip? 8 Common causes
The cause of leaky faucet issues often comes down to the following:
If your faucet is dripping, check how the washer and O-ring are installed. If either component is not installed correctly, you will often end up with a leak. It’s important to note that this can also happen if you accidentally use the wrong sized washer or O-ring.
Installing a faucet for your sink is something that many homeowners take upon themselves, and is very possible to do!
However, without the proper tools and experience, you may find yourself having to replace and re-do parts, or all of your faucet installation. This is a good reason why we recommend hiring a plumber to install your system for you.
Worn out materials
With repeated use, certain parts of your faucet’s mechanism will deteriorate. The most common victim of regular wear and tear is the washer.
Any time you turn on your faucet, a washer is forced against the valve seat. This creates friction causing the washer to wear out. You will soon notice dripping around the spout and this should be fixed right away.
If your leaky faucet is caused by a worn-out washer, just replace the washer and the leak should stop.
Corrosion on the valve seat
A corroded valve seat is another common cause of dripping faucet problems in your home. A leak by the spout may be caused by a corroded valve seat which is the connector between your spout and your faucet.
Overtime sediment (loose sand, clay, and other soil particles that settle at the bottom of water) in your water can corrode the valve seat and cause your tap to leak. To avoid this, make sure you clean the valve seat regularly with the help of a plumbing professional.
When you bring in a technician for maintenance, it’s a good idea to have a plumber also inspect your faucet connections from time to time. With frequent use, your faucet screws and bolts tend to loosen and can lead to a dripping faucet.
Proper maintenance of your faucets will help prevent surprise leaks and other plumbing-related headaches.
Does your faucet only leak at a certain time of day every day? This could indicate that your water pressure is too high. High pressure can cause a build-up of water which can lead to water leaking out of the wrong place.
You may first see a water pressure leak in your faucet, but these can cause pinhole leaks in your pipework – a much bigger issue that will only get worse and cause more damage.
If you suspect a water pressure issue, get your system inspected by a plumber as soon as possible.
A broken O-ring
If you’re wondering what causes leaky faucet issues, it could be a smaller culprit than you’d expect. An O-ring is a small rubber ring that wraps around a pipe to fill up any small gaps that water could fit through.
O-rings will break down over time due to the friction of water passing over them causing water to leak from the faucet handle. Replacing the old O-ring will solve this problem.
Worn out seals
Similar to valve seats, seals – both inlets and outlets – wear out over time which can lead to a leaky faucet. Water sediment buildup is the most common reason for a worn-out seal and replacing the seal should also fix the leak.
If you can hear a dripping sound coming from your sink but can’t locate the source, look underneath the sink.
Many times damaged or worn-out plumbing may be mistaken for a dripping faucet. If this is the case, call a plumber to take a look and solve the problem for you.
How to fix a leaking faucet
Once you know what’s causing the leaky faucet in your home, with some time and a little DIY plumbing knowledge, you can fix it yourself. That said, if you’re unsure of how to fix the issue yourself, it’s always recommended to contact a plumber.
Here’s how to fix a leaky tap:
Shut off the water
Before you can fix the leak, shut off the water to avoid making a mess. Under the sink should be two water supply valves: one for the cold water and one for the hot water. To shut them off, turn them clockwise.
Plug your drain
Always plug your drain with a drain plug or cover it with a cloth before starting. The last thing you want to deal with while fixing your leak is a loose piece falling down the drain!
Check the components for any damage
First, unscrew the handles on your faucet. After you’ve done that, loosen the packing nut and stem with a wrench and check both of them for damage. Replace any damaged parts if necessary.
Take a look at the O-ring and washer. If either look worn out or damaged, replace them.
Reassemble and test
When everything is in place, put your faucet back together, turn your water back on, and check if anything leaks. If you are still having issues contact a plumber right away.
Is your faucet leaking? Call Plumb-Tech today.
Determining the cause of a leaky faucet can be a hassle. Here at Plumb-Tech, we understand how stressful a leaky faucet can be and how it can impact your water bill and peace of mind.
If you live in the Missoula area, contact us for all your plumbing needs!