Tips for troubleshooting kitchen faucets

Before you call the plumber, you might first be able to fix that leaky faucet yourself. These tips for troubleshooting different parts of the faucet may save you money.

Tips for troubleshooting kitchen faucets

Sprayers

  • Like a faucet aerator, the nozzle of a kitchen faucet's sprayer attachment can become clogged with mineral deposits. Before you take action on the sprayer's inner workings, check under the sink to make sure the hose is not twisted or kinked. If it's worn or permanently kinked, have it replaced.
  • If that doesn't work, chances are your sprayer is clogged. To unclog it, turn off the faucet and use a rubber band to hold the sprayer handle in the open position. Soak the sprayer head in a cup of warm white vinegar for 30 minutes, then run the sprayer at full blast to clean out any debris. Repeat if needed.
  • If the sprayer is still sluggish, take the sprayer head apart and clean the nozzle's parts with a toothbrush. Open any clogged holes with a straight pin. Reassemble the sprayer head, making sure to replace parts in the proper sequence.

Faucets

  • The first step to all faucet repairs is to turn off both water-supply shutoff valves under the sink (if there are none, turn off the main water-supply valve) and open the faucet handle(s) to drain the faucet.
  • Next, remove the faucet handle, which is almost always held in place by a screw or set screw. Sometimes, the screw is exposed at the top of the handle; in other cases, you'll need to pry off a decorative cap to access the screw.
  • Unscrew the retainer pivot nut with a pair of pliers. (In some models, there may be a plastic retainer ring that you'll need to remove.)
  • Lift off the spout sleeve and spray diverter, if any, and check the O-rings on the faucet body. If they're worn, pitted or otherwise damaged, replace them.
  • Pry out the cartridge's retainer clip with a small screwdriver. Use pliers to pull out the old cartridge and replace it with a new one, following manufacturer's directions.
  • Reassemble the faucet.

Drainpipe

  • If water is leaking from a sink's drainpipe, it's probably coming from the P-trap — more specifically, from the coupling nuts that hold it in place.
  • Tighten a leaking coupling nut with two pipe wrenches, or with a pipe wrench and groove-joint pliers. Wrap the jaws of both tools with duct tape to keep them from marring chrome pipe surfaces. Grip the lower pipe with one tool and tighten the nut with the other. If the leak persists, call a plumber.
  • With the handle removed, use an adjustable wrench to remove the packing nut. Pull up the stem assembly, unscrew the brass screw holding the washer in place, and replace the washer with a duplicate.
  • If the leak persists, the valve seat may have to be replaced. Call a plumber.
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