Easy Fixes for Simple Faucet Issues

September 15, 2015

Faucets come in many shapes and sizes, but most work in essentially the same way. Washers will deteriorate and taps can stiffen, but many of these problems have a quick and easy solution.

Easy Fixes for Simple Faucet Issues

I can’t turn the faucet on

Try lubricant and some gentle persuasion

If the tap handle won't turn, the moving parts within may have corroded and seized.

  • Apply some WD-40 or penetrating oil around the tap spindle — where it rises out of the body. Leave to soak for two to three hours. Some taps have a handle that covers the spindle, so you'll need to remove it to access the spindle.
  • If you can't open the tap by hand, use an adjustable wrench to turn the handle. Wrap a cloth around the handle before tightening the wrench around it, and use as little force as possible.

I can’t turn the faucet off

Open up and let the water do the work

If your faucet dribbles or drips when turned off, the washer isn't pressing down firmly enough on the seat of the tap. A piece of debris, such as a fragment of lime, may be trapped beneath the washer.

  • Open the tap fully — fast-flowing water may dislodge the object.
  • If this doesn't work, you'll need to dismantle the tap and change the washer.

My faucet spits at me

Unclog the aerator

Many modern faucets are fitted with an aerator that gives water a "champagne bubble" effect. The aerator is a fine-mesh screen that screws onto the mouth of the tap.

Try unscrewing the aerator and removing any lime or mineral deposits. Reattach the clear screen — the water flow should now be far more regular.

I can’t remove lime build-up

Treat your tap to a lemon or vinegar bath

Mineral deposits in hard water can build up on tap spouts to form a ring of lime. Left alone this can get rock hard and impossible to remove with normal cleaning products. Try these natural remedies.

  • Cut a lemon in half, stick it on the spout and leave it overnight. If the lemon won't stay put, hold it in place with plastic wrap.
  • Pour some vinegar (strong pickling vinegar is best) into a plastic cup or yogurt container. Secure the container to the faucet with plastic wrap so the vinegar covers the lime ring. Leave overnight and see the difference in the morning.
  • Soak some cotton wool in either vinegar or lemon juice and apply overnight to the body of the tap to remove lime stains here, too.

Make it 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 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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