Learn how to repair a leaky faucet – Happy Plumber’s Day!

Plumber vs Leaking FaucetFor homeowners, leaky faucets may seem like a minor annoyance. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency of the US, more than a trillion gallons of water are wasted every year due to leaks and drips in home faucets. If you don’t attend to them, these drips and leaks can also cost you money on your water bill. Often fixing these leaks is a simple and straightforward procedure, involving replacing a single plumbing part. Instead of paying someone to do it for you, why not connect with your “inner handyman” and do the job yourself?

Level of Difficulty


Materials and Tools Required

  • Needle nose pliers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Replacement parts: o-rings cartridge, valve seats, springs (may depend on the faucet model)
  • Plumber’s grease
  • Screwdriver
  • Towel or washcloth

Before You Start

Make a note of your faucet’s model number and manufacturer. Ask the plumbing expert at your hardware store to help you find the parts you’ll need.

Use a rag or washcloth to plug the drain to avoid losing small parts down the drain.

Turn off your water supply. The valve for shutting off the water is usually under your sink. If there is no way to turn off the water just for the sink, shut off the main water supply for the whole house.

Identify the Faucet type

There are four different kinds of faucets. Figure out which kind you have, because the procedures are different for each type:

Cartridge or Sleeve – One-handled single-hole installed faucets usually control the flow with an up-or-down movement and the temperature with a right-or-left movement. In a three-hole installation the left handle is for hot water while the right is for cold.

Ceramic Disc – These work in much the same way as cartridge faucets, except that the body is wider.

Compression – This is an older style of faucet using separate handles for hot or cold water regulation.

Ball Type – One-handled single-hole installations control flow with an up-or-down movement and temperature with a left-or-right movement. The handle uses an internal ball to rotate smoothly.

Repairing a Cartridge/Sleeve Faucet

  • Gently pry away the decorative cap and take out the handle’s screw.
  • Remove the entire handle assembly as well as the cartridge. If the cartridge is held in place by a retainer piece, use pliers to remove this piece. Remove the cartridge by pulling it straight up. Notice the cartridge position so that you can replicate it when you reassemble the faucet.
  • Replace the o-rings if they look worn. Apply a coat of plumber’s grease to the new rings.
  • If you need to replace the cartridge, do that now and also replace the retainer clip.
  • Reassemble the faucet

Repairing a Ceramic Disc Faucet

  • Use a screwdriver to take out the set screw underneath the handle.
  • Pull the handle off, as well as the decorative cap covering the cartridge.
  • Remove screws on top of the cartridge. Take out the cartridge.
  • Remove the seals at the bottom of the cartridge. Replace them if they are worn.
  • Look for build-up in this area. Clean it well.
  • Reassemble the faucet.

Repairing a Compression Faucet

  • Pry off the decorative cap on the top of the handle. Unscrew and remove the handle.
  • Use a wrench to unscrew the packing unit.
  • Find the seat washer (held in place with a brass screw). Replace it, coating the new washer in plumber’s grease.
  • Pop out the stem from the packaging nut. Take off the old o-ring and replace it with a new one that’s exactly the same size. Give the new o-ring a coat of plumber’s grease.
  • Reassemble the faucet

Repairing a Ball Faucet

  • Loosen the set screw and remove it as well as the handle.
  • Use pliers to unscrew the cap.
  • Remove the washer, cam assembly and ball.
  • Remove the seals and springs with pliers.
  • Lift out or cut away o-rings. Give the faucet body a coat of plumber’s grease and put in new o-rings.
  • Install new valve seats, springs and cam assembly.
  • Reassemble the faucet