How Can You Repair a Leaking Faucet?

Old rotten grease trap

We’ve all been there: The dripping sound that seems to echo through the house in the quiet of the night. A leaking faucet is not just a source of annoyance but can also lead to a wastage of water and an increased bill. Before you consider calling a plumber for faucet repair services, know that you can fix it yourself with patience and the right tools. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started:

Diagnose the Problem

First and foremost, determine the type of faucet you have. There are four main types: compression, cartridge (sleeve), ceramic disk, and ball type. Each has a different mechanism and, consequently, another repair method.

Gather Your Tools

While the tools required may vary slightly depending on the faucet type, here’s a general list to get you started:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers
  • Replacement parts (e.g., O-rings, cartridges)
  • Penetrating oil, like WD-40 or CLR
  • Teflon tape

Turn Off the Water

Before you start any repair, always turn off the water supply. There are typically shut-off valves under the sink. Turn the valves to the right (clockwise) to shut off the water supply to the faucet.

Begin the Repair

For a Compression Faucet:

  • Remove the decorative cap on the handle using a flat-head screwdriver.
  • Using the same screwdriver, unscrew the handle screw and lift off the handle.
  • With an adjustable wrench, unscrew the packing nut. You should now see the stem, which you can also remove.
  • Check the O-ring and washer inside the valve seat – they often cause leaks. Replace them if they appear damaged.
  • Reassemble the faucet and turn on the water.

For other faucet types, the process may involve removing the handle, removing the ball or cartridge, and replacing worn parts. Consider checking the manufacturer’s manual or looking up model-specific guidance online if unfamiliar.

Replacing the Faucet Cartridge

If you’ve determined that the cartridge is the source of the leak:

  • Remove the handle as described in the earlier steps.
  • Take off the retaining clip (if present) using needle-nose pliers.
  • Pull the cartridge straight up and out. If it’s stuck, try using pliers to pull it out gently. Remember the orientation for reinstallation.
  • Insert a new cartridge, making sure it’s aligned correctly.
  • Reassemble the handle and turn on the water.

Check Your Work

Once everything is reassembled, turn the water back on and check the faucet. The leak should be gone. If not, ensure all the parts are securely fitted, and you haven’t missed any damaged components.


While a leaking faucet might seem intimidating at first, with some time and patience, you can take on the role of a handyman and fix it yourself. However, if the leak persists or you’re unsure about any step, it’s always best to consult with or hire a professional plumber.

If you need professional help or guidance, Gray Plumbing is always here to assist. With years of expertise and a team of dedicated professionals, we ensure that the job is done right the first time. So, whether you’re looking to tackle the issue yourself or need expert hands, know Gray Plumbing has your back.