Though most of us turn our kitchen and bathroom faucets on and off several times a day thinking of repairing one, well, we think it’s hard. Yet repairing a leaky faucet is one of the most common repairs in the home and simple enough that anyone can do it.
Here are some tools you might need: 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. Usually these are 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.
There are three main types of washer less faucets: cartridge, ball and disk.
Modern cartridge faucets feature an easily replaceable interior cartridge that houses the faucet’s moving parts. Drips and leaks can often be stopped by simply replacing the cartridge by following these steps.
Remove the handle. Depending on the model, there may or may not be a small hole on the handle to insert a hex wrench into a hex bolt near the lowest part of the handle at the front. A hex bolt is a screw that has a hexagonal or six-sided hole for a hex wrench. A hex wrench looks like a small bent rod with an end that slides into the hexagonal hole of the hex screw. After removing the handle loosen the nut holding the cartridge and remove the cartridge being careful to place the parts in order so they can easily be put back together. A number of manufacturers make cartridges of varying designs, so take the cartridge with you when you shop for parts. It is best to replace the entire cartridge.
Tub and shower cartridge faucets are similar to their sink counterparts. Twisting the handle rotates the cartridge, which routes the water through the resulting passageway.
Ball type faucet
Most leaks with ball-type faucets occur at the spigot or the handle and are caused by a defective ball or worn O-rings and are fairly easy and inexpensive to repair. This is because you usually need only replace worn parts, not the entire mechanism. Faucet repair kits are available at your hardware store.
Single-lever ball-type faucets are common on kitchen sinks. When repairing a ball-type faucet, buy an entire repair kit that includes O-rings, a new ball, valve seats and springs, and the special little cam tool you’ll need to loosen the faucet cam. It’s always a good idea to take the faucet name or model number along with the old parts to the store so you can identify the correct replacement part or kit.
Again make sure the main water valve is turned off either near the base of the faucet or under the sink. Open all the lines to drain out any excess water. Cover the sink with a towel or cloth to stop any parts or tools from slipping down the drain. You may also want to cover any wrenches or pliers with tape or cloth to prevent any damage to the finish of your faucet. Now loosen the handle setscrew and remove the handle. Underneath you’ll find the faucet cap. Remove the cap with water-pump pliers. Continue disassembling the faucet, being careful to place the parts in order so they can easily be put back together.
Disk type faucet
When the faucet lever of a disk type faucet is raised the upper disk in the cartridge slides across the lower disk, allowing water to flow. The higher you raise the lever, the more water enters through the inlet ports of the faucet body. Moving the lever from side to side determines whether hot or cold water or a mixture of the two comes out of the spout.
The disk assembly itself, generally made of a long-lasting ceramic material, rarely needs replacing. However, if water flow is slow or erratic, particles of rust and minerals may be clogging the inlets. If this happens, simply disassemble the faucet, and scrape away the crusty buildup.
Repairing a ceramic disk faucet is a project many homeowners who are handy with a few basic tools can do themselves. If water drips out the spout or seeps out around the handle, buy a kit and replace all the rubber parts. Inspect the cylinder and replace it if you see signs of wear. If your model has plastic rather than ceramic disks, replace the entire unit.
Push the faucet handle back to access the set screw. Remove the screw and lift off the handle. Remove the escutcheon cap, unscrew the disk cylinder mounting screws and lift out the cylinder. With a blunt screwdriver, lift out the neoprene seals from the cylinder (if the seals are damaged, replace them) and use distilled white vinegar and a plastic scouring pad to clean the cylinder openings.
Rinse thoroughly. Then replace the seals and reassemble the faucet. Move the handle to the “on” position and very slowly turn the water back on—the force of the returning water can fracture the ceramic disk.