How do I Fix a Leaky Compression Faucet

Posted by Dave the How To guy | do it yourself | Posted on November 14th, 2009

Most of us turn our kitchen faucets on and off many times every day without ever giving it a second thought but think of repairing one well that’s something else. Yet repairing a leaky faucet is one of the most common repairs in the home and simple enough that anyone can do it.

Fix a Leaky Compression FaucetTools and Materials: Smooth-jaw adjustable wrench Screwdrivers, standard and Phillips Pliers Faucet washers, Brass screws, Stem Silicone grease or petroleum jelly, Seat dressing tool or Seat & Seat wrench, Silicone rubber sealant or pipe compound, Socket wrench, Packing Cleaning cloths, Hand cleaner.

Turn off the water at the water-supply valve. These are usually under the sink (or in the wall behind the shower assembly – often in a closet behind a removable panel). If there are no localized shutoffs, use the main water shutoff for your house usually in the basement.

Compression type faucets

Fix a Leaky Compression FaucetCompression faucets have been around the longest and are very common in older homes. Most of the older, two-handled faucets have stems that move up and down as the handle is turned. These faucets are the type which use a washer that when compressed against a seat in the faucet body (by tightening the faucet handle) shuts off the flow of water. These washers take a beating and wear out pretty frequently. If the washer or the seat becomes worn, water seeps through and drips out of the spout. Replacing the washer can help save large amounts of water. Even a slow drip can waste tens of gallons of water per day.

While most new faucets have no washers many older homes still have perfectly functional washer style faucets. One reason for these to rarely be used is that they are subject to periodic leaks due to washer failure. Replacing these washers is quite easy and inexpensive so there is no need to replace a leaking faucet totally.

Fix a Leaky Compression FaucetIf the faucet is leaking from the spout, the problem is probably a damaged washer, seat, or stem. If the faucet leaks from the handle, it is probably the O-ring. However, to get to the O-ring you must remove the stem, so the instructions are pretty much the same for both. Place something over the drain in case a small part falls in the sink while you are working. Turn the faucet on to drain any remaining water. Pop the cap of the faucet handle with a knife and remove the screw that holds the handles down. Pull up the handles to expose the faucet mechanism or stem. Remove the mechanism by using pliers to loosen the nut of the stem. Do this on both handles. Take the stem to a hardware store to find a replacement.

An all-purpose repair kits for stem or compression faucets contain washers and O-rings of various sizes. To make sure you have a perfect match, take the stem along when buying the repair kit. An older type of faucet may need a packing washer or string packing. If the stem itself is worn, replacing the rubber parts will not solve the problem. You can replace the stem if you can find a new one but replacing the faucet may be the best option in this case.

There are not many compression faucets sold today but the older ones will last for years if they are properly maintained.


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One Response to “How do I Fix a Leaky Compression Faucet”

  1. There is a small plastic filter on the cold inlet to the shower. Unscrew it and check that it is clear. If that is okay, then the solenoid valve has failed.

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