When a leaky faucet keeps you up all night, don’t let it steal your peace of mind. In this guide, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step process on how to fix a leaky faucet. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a homeowner in Phoenix, AZ dealing with a plumbing issue, this guide is tailored to help you understand the basics of a faucet, the preparatory steps before fixing a leak, and detailed instructions for tackling the job.

Leaky faucets can lead to excessive water waste and inflated utility bills, not to mention the irritating drips that can disrupt your tranquility. But worry not, as this guide is designed to empower you to take control of these minor issues before they escalate into major problems.

Remember, while it’s great to know how to fix minor leaks yourself, some tasks are best left to professionals. For complex plumbing repairs, you can always rely on Merlin’s AC & Plumbing services for prompt service, transparent pricing, and guaranteed satisfaction. But for now, let’s dive into the world of faucets and find out how you can fix that persistent leak.

Understanding the Basics of a Faucet

Before you roll up your sleeves and get your toolbox ready, it’s essential to understand what makes your faucet tick.

The Two Types of Faucets: Washerless and Compression

Faucets come in two main types: those with washers (compression faucets) and those without (washerless faucets). Compression faucets work like a bottle cap, using a small rubber washer to control the water flow. On the other hand, washerless faucets, which include cartridge, ceramic-disk, and ball-type faucets, rely on a disc, ball, or cartridge to control the flow of water1.

How a Faucet Works

Think of your faucet as a mini dam. It holds back a pressurized stream of water until you lift or twist the handle. The magic happens within two main systems: the water supply system, which carries fresh water to your home, and the drainage system, which takes the waste water out2.

For a faucet to function smoothly, these systems, along with the internal faucet components, must be in top condition. If any part wears out or breaks, you might encounter issues such as a leaky faucet.

In the next sections, we’ll guide you through the steps to fixing a leaky faucet yourself. But remember, if you encounter complications or prefer a professional touch, Merlin’s AC & Plumbing is always ready to assist.


  1. Bob Vila

  2. Merlin’s Home Services

Preparatory Steps Before Fixing a Leaky Faucet

Before you dive into fixing that leaky faucet, it’s essential to prepare adequately to ensure a successful and mess-free repair. This involves gathering the necessary tools, identifying the type of faucet you have, and turning off the water supply.

Gathering the Necessary Tools

To fix a leaky faucet, you’ll need a few tools at your disposal. According to DIY experts Timothy Dale and Michael Franco, some of these essentials include a towel, a flathead screwdriver, a hex wrench or hex screwdriver, penetrating oil, a toothless wrench, an O-ring, and a seat washer[^1^]. Having these tools ready before you start will streamline the repair process and save you from unnecessary interruptions.

Identifying the Type of Faucet You Have

Faucets come in different designs, and the type you have can dictate the approach to fixing the leak. The two basic categories are those with washers (compression faucets) and those without (washerless faucets). Washerless faucets can be further divided into cartridge, ceramic-disk, and ball-type faucets[^1^]. Knowing the type of faucet you have will guide you in identifying the specific steps to follow and parts to replace.

Turning Off the Water Supply

One of the most critical steps before beginning your repair is to turn off the water supply to your faucet. This can usually be done by turning the valves located below your sink basin clockwise[^1^]. This stops the flow of water and prevents any unexpected showers during your repair.

In the event of a major leak, you may need to turn off the main water supply to your home. The main water shut-off valve is typically located in the basement, near the water heater, or where the main water line enters the home[^2^]. Once you’ve located it, turn it to the “off” position following the instructions on the handle[^2^].

After turning off the water, open the faucet to release any water left behind in the line, then close the drain. You can place a kitchen towel over the drain to prevent small parts from falling in during the repair process[^1^].

With these preparatory steps completed, you’re ready to start fixing your leaky faucet. Follow the steps in the following sections for detailed guides on how to repair both compression and washerless faucets. And remember, if you run into any difficulties, Merlin’s AC & Plumbing is just a call away.

fixing leaky faucet

Detailed Guide to Fixing a Leaky Compression Faucet

Now let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into the step-by-step guide to fixing a leaky compression faucet.

STEP 1: Removing the Cap from Each Handle

The first order of business is to remove the decorative cap from the top of each handle. Look for a small circle on the top of the handle that may have an “H” for hot or a “C” for cold. Use a flathead screwdriver to gently lift up the decorative cap, which will expose the screwhead underneath[^1^].

STEP 2: Unscrewing and Removing the Handles

Next, check the type of screw that is currently securing the handles. You’ll typically find standard flathead screws, but sometimes the faucet handle is secure with a hex set screw. In this case, you will need a hex wrench or hex screwdriver[^1^]. Once the screws are removed, the handles should lift off easily. If they seem to be seized, try using penetrating oil to help loosen the fittings[^1^].

STEP 3: Taking Off the Stem Nut

With the handles removed, you should be able to see the stem and the stem nut, which holds the stem in place. Use a wrench to carefully loosen and remove the stem nut. Remember, plumbing parts can be damaged by a wrench with overly aggressive teeth, so consider using a toothless wrench[^1^].

STEP 4: Pulling Out the Stem and Inspecting the O-ring

At this stage, you can pull out the stem, exposing the O-ring and seat washer[^1^]. The O-ring is responsible for preventing leaks from the actual handles of the faucet. If it looks worn or if you have had issues with the handles leaking, you may need to replace the O-ring.

STEP 5: Removing and Replacing the Seat Washer

The seat washer, located at the bottom of the stem, is the part of the faucet that gets compressed by the handles to close the flow of water through the faucet[^1^]. If it looks worn out or is the cause of the leak, replace it with a new seat washer. Make sure to get a perfect replacement to avoid future problems after assembly[^1^].

STEP 6: Reassembling the Faucet

Now that the new seat washer is in place, reassemble the faucet. The order of reassembly for each handle should be seat washer, O-ring, stem, stem nut, handle, handle screw, and decorative cap[^1^].

STEP 7: Testing the Faucet

Finally, it’s time to test the faucet. Open the cold and hot water valves located under the sink. The water should quickly flow through the faucet, expelling a small amount of air[^1^]. Once all of the air has been pushed out, turn off the faucet and check the handles and the tap for leaks. If you spot any leaks, it might indicate that a part of the faucet was not assembled correctly or that a part is worn out and needs to be replaced[^1^].

Fixing a leaky faucet can be a straightforward DIY project. However, if the problem persists or if you’re unsure about any step in the process, don’t hesitate to call a professional. In Phoenix, Arizona, Merlin’s AC & Plumbing offers prompt, reliable, and guaranteed satisfaction for all your plumbing needs.

repairing washerless faucet

Detailed Guide to Fixing a Leaky Washerless Faucet

Washerless faucets, though less prone to leaks than their compression counterparts, can still spring a drip. Here’s a detailed guide on how you can fix a leaky washerless faucet yourself.

STEP 1: Removing the Cap from the Handle

Start by removing any decorative caps that are covering the handle screw. Look for a circular plastic or metal cap that may have a hot or cold pattern to denote the direction to turn the handle for hot or cold water. Use a flathead screwdriver to gently lift this cap, revealing the screw underneath.

STEP 2: Unscrewing and Removing the Handle

Identify the type of screw securing the handle. Most often, these are standard flathead screws, but some models may use a hex set screw. Use a compatible screwdriver or hex wrench to unscrew and remove the handle. If it seems stuck, try a bit of penetrating oil to loosen the fitting.

STEP 3: Disassembling and Removing the Internal Components According to the Faucet Type

With the handle removed, next comes the disassembly of the internal components. The specifics here depend on your faucet type — it could be a cartridge, ceramic-disk, or ball-type faucet. Regardless of the type, ensure you keep track of the order of the parts as you disassemble to make reassembly easier.

STEP 4: Inspecting the Parts for Wear and Damage

Examine each component carefully for any signs of wear, damage, or corrosion. Faulty parts like worn-out cartridges, damaged seals, or corroded springs can be the root cause of the leaking issue.

STEP 5: Replacing Any Worn or Damaged Parts

Once you’ve identified any damaged parts, replace them with new ones. You can take the old parts to a local hardware store to find exact replacements. Whether it’s a cartridge for your cartridge faucet, springs and valve seat set for your ball faucet, or neoprene seals for a ceramic-disk faucet, ensure you have the right parts for your specific model.

STEP 6: Reassembling the Faucet

Now that the faulty components are replaced, it’s time to reassemble the faucet. Follow the reverse order of disassembly. Make sure you tighten each part securely but be careful not to overtighten as this could damage the parts or lead to leaks.

STEP 7: Testing the Faucet

Finally, turn the water supply back on and test the faucet. Open the faucet and let the water run, pushing out any trapped air. Then, close the faucet and check for leaks. If you notice any drips or leaks, it could be a sign that a part was not assembled correctly or that a replacement part is still needed.

While these steps can guide you in fixing a leaky washerless faucet, some problems might require professional help. If you find yourself in over your head or if the faucet continues to leak after your repair attempt, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber. In Phoenix, Arizona, the experts at Merlin’s AC & Plumbing are always ready to assist you with their prompt and reliable services.

When to Call a Professional: Merlin’s AC & Plumbing Services

While fixing a leaky faucet yourself can be a rewarding experience, there are times when it’s best to call in the professionals. If you’ve tried to fix the leak and it still persists, or if you’re dealing with a complex faucet system, professional help may be necessary.

The Benefits of Professional Plumbing Services

A professional plumber has the training and expertise to quickly diagnose and fix a variety of plumbing issues. They also have access to specialized tools and parts that may not be readily available to the average homeowner. By hiring a professional, you’re ensuring that the job is done right the first time, saving you time and potential headaches down the line.

Moreover, attempting to fix a plumbing issue without the necessary knowledge or tools can sometimes lead to more extensive damage. In such cases, hiring a professional from the beginning can actually save you money in the long run.

Merlin’s AC & Plumbing’s Unique Selling Proposition

In the Phoenix area, Merlin’s AC & Plumbing stands out as a reliable and trustworthy service provider. Not only do they offer 24/7 emergency service, but they also cover a wide range of plumbing repairs, from faucet and leak repairs to water heater repairs and water damage restoration.

What sets Merlin’s AC & Plumbing apart is their commitment to satisfaction. They prioritize transparent pricing, with financing options available to help make their services more affordable. Their team of trained professionals is dedicated to providing prompt, quality service, ensuring that your home’s plumbing is functioning optimally.

So, if you’re dealing with a persistent leaky faucet, or any other plumbing issue, don’t hesitate to reach out to Merlin’s AC & Plumbing. Their team will be ready to provide the professional assistance you need to get your home back in order.

FAQs About How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

After reading through the comprehensive guide on fixing a leaky faucet, you might still have a few burning questions. Here, we address some of the most frequently asked questions homeowners in Phoenix, AZ often have when attempting to fix a leaky faucet by themselves.

1. What Causes a Faucet to Leak?

A leaky faucet generally results from wear and tear of the internal components of the faucet. This could be due to faulty parts like washers, gaskets, and o-rings, or from mineral deposits and corrosion.

2. Can a Leaky Faucet Increase my Water Bill?

Yes! As per the U.S. Geological Survey, a leaky faucet that drips once per minute can waste up to 34 gallons of water per year. This not only impacts the environment but can also significantly increase your water bill.

3. How Long Does a Faucet Last Before it Starts Leaking?

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average faucet lasts about 15 years. However, it’s common for faucets to start leaking before then, so regular maintenance and prompt repairs are crucial.

4. What Tools Do I Need to Fix a Leaky Faucet?

Basic tools you might need include a flathead screwdriver, a hex wrench or hex screwdriver, a toothless wrench, and penetrating oil. You might also need replacement parts such as a new o-ring or seat washer, depending on the problem.

5. When Should I Call a Professional to Fix a Leaky Faucet?

While many faucet leaks can be fixed with some DIY effort, there are situations when calling a professional is the best option. Persistent leaks, complicated faucet mechanisms, or leaks that lead to water damage are best handled by professionals like Merlin’s AC & Plumbing.

6. How Does Merlin’s AC & Plumbing Help with Leaky Faucets?

Merlin’s AC & Plumbing provides an efficient, prompt, and transparent plumbing service. They can quickly identify the cause of the leak, fix it, and even provide tips to prevent future leaks.

Remember, fixing a leaky faucet promptly is crucial to save water, reduce your bills, and maintain the overall health of your home’s plumbing system. Whether you decide to tackle the job yourself or call in the professionals at Merlin’s AC & Plumbing, this guide should help you understand the process and make an informed decision.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

A leaky faucet can seem like a minor nuisance, but it quickly escalates into a substantial problem, wasting water, increasing your bills, and potentially leading to more severe plumbing issues. The good news is, armed with the right knowledge and tools, you can tackle this problem head-on. This comprehensive guide was designed to help you understand the fundamentals of faucets and walk you through the process of fixing a leaky faucet, be it a compression or washerless type.

However, it’s essential to remember that while DIY can save you money, sometimes the problem might be more extensive than it seems. The parts may be worn out or damaged beyond repair, or the issue might lie deeper within your plumbing system. In such cases, it’s best to call in the professionals.

At Merlin’s AC & Plumbing, we provide a wide array of plumbing services – from leak repair to water damage restoration, ensuring your home’s plumbing system is in top-notch condition. Our team of licensed professionals is available 24/7 for emergency services, offering prompt and efficient solutions.

We understand that plumbing issues can be inconvenient and stressful. That’s why we strive to provide transparent pricing, exceptional service, and a satisfaction guarantee. Remember, taking care of your home’s plumbing system is not just about fixing issues as they arise, but also about regular maintenance to prevent potential problems.

So whether you are a DIY enthusiast ready to roll up your sleeves and fix that leaky faucet or someone who prefers the expertise of a professional, we hope this guide has been informative and helpful. After all, a well-maintained home is a happy home. And remember, when in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts at Merlin’s AC & Plumbing. We’re here to ensure your home remains the comfortable oasis it should be.

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