Easy Fixes for a Faulty Faucet

June 30, 2015

An issue with your faucet doesn't necessarily mean a call to the plumber or a trip to the hardware store. Save your money by first trying these simple repair tips.

Easy Fixes for a Faulty Faucet

My flow has become a dribble

Clear out the faucet body to get it gushing

Over time, the easy flow of water from a tap may slow to a frustratingly slow dribble. This happens because sediment, lime fragments and even worn bits of washer can accumulate inside the body of the tap. This tends to happen more often in hot than cold taps.

  1. Shut off the water supply and remove the tap headgear or cartridge.
  2. Tightly roll up an old cloth and ram it into the open body of the tap, then pull it out, dragging it out along with any sediment.
  3. Rinse out the tap body with a jug of hot water.
  4. Repeat a few times; reassemble the faucet and reconnect the water supply.

The spout of my kitchen mixer faucet is leaking

Replace the O-rings in two minutes

The swiveling spout of a mixer faucet contains a rubber O-ring that stops water from leaking out where the spout enters the tap body. Over time, these rings wear and let water past. Fortunately, you don't need to turn off the water at the water main before making a repair.

  1. Turn off the hot and cold taps of the mixer. Remove the spout. It is usually held in place by a small retaining screw, often inconveniently located at the back of the faucet.
  2. Lift the spout out and pry off the O-rings with a screwdriver. Buy replacement O-rings from your plumbing supplies shop. Before fitting the new rings, coat them with a little petroleum jelly — it will make them easier to slide onto the spout.
  3. Replace the retaining screw, turn on the taps and check for leaks.

Water escapes from the top of the faucet

Block the leak with plumber's tape

Water emerging from the headgear when you run the tap can be stopped easily. The method depends of the type of faucet.

Rising spindle taps are made waterproof by packing around the spindle. This is kept in place by a small nut — the gland nut — at the top of the headgear. Try tightening this nut with an adjustable wrench.

  1. If that doesn't work, turn off the water and unscrew the gland nut.
  2. Make new packing by wrapping plumber's tape (also called PTFE, or Teflon, tape) around the spindle and pack it into the gland with a screwdriver.
  3. Replace and tighten the nut and turn on the water.

Non-rising spindle taps and quarter-turn taps have no gland packing or gland nut, but use one or more rubber O-rings to stop water leaking from the top of the tap.

  1. Remove the headgear/cartridge to access the O-rings.
  2. Take the worn rings to your plumber's merchant; buy and fit replacements.

Make faucets last

Turning the faucet off too tightly will quickly wear out the washer and strain other moving parts. Get into the habit of turning it just enough to shut off the flow.

When you visit the plumber's merchant to buy a replacement washer or O-ring, always buy a spare and store it in an envelope marked with the location of the faucet. Over the years, you'll save lots of trips to the store.

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