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Tips for Leaky Faucet Repair

Roughly one in 10 homes have serious leaks that can waste 90 gallons per day. Each year, the average household wastes about 10,000 gallons of water from household leaks. Leaking water can become very expensive over time, leave stains, cause mold growth, and even cause damage to your home. 

MacLeod’s Plumbing and Heating has over 20 years of experience in the plumbing industry. Hence, we want to share our knowledge and tips. 

Types of Faucets

There are four main types of faucets. Below, we will go over and explain some of the pros and cons of each type.

Cartridge Faucet

Similar to a compression faucet, cartridge faucets are usually easier to operate. The faucet will turn on after a half-turn, and will turn off without extra effort. Often, these faucets have lever-style handles which are easy to grasp, rather than rounder or valve-style handles. They are considered low maintenance and quite reliable.

Compression Faucet

As the compression faucet has two handles, the hot and cold water lines are controlled separately. They do not feel much pressure when you turn them on, but are pressurized as they close. A washer and screw help form a seal to shut off your water. They are an older type of faucet technology, and seem to spring leaks faster than newer models. However, they are inexpensive and easy to find. 

Disc Faucet

The ceramic disc faucet design is one of the newer faucet technologies. They are made to be leak and maintenance free, and handle extreme temperatures well. There is one lever on top of a large cylindrical faucet body. Moreover, the lever only requires a quarter-turn to operate. Unlike previous models, they do not have a rubber washer. The disc faucet has a pair of slotted discs which stack on top of each other underneath the water supply pipe. While the lower disc stays fixed, the upper one rotates and controls water flow. Overtime the ceramic discs will erode, and the faucet has a higher initial cost. 

Ball Faucet

Ball faucets have a singular handle that moves side to side to control the temperature, but lifts to control water flow. This faucet requires more parts than other models, and a few rubber parts that are more likely to wear quickly. As they leak more, they do require more attention. 

Causes of a Leaky Faucet

Leaking Faucet

Broken Washers

The washer within the faucet helps control water flow. Washers rest against the valve seat, and friction can make the washers wear out. In turn, the sink can begin to leak. Moreover, leaks can happen if a washer is an incorrect size or improperly installed.

Corroded Valve Seat

Leaks from the spout are often caused by the valve seat. As the valve seat connects the faucet to the spot, sediment is likely to build up and cause corrosion. Eventually, a leak emerges due to the wearing of the part. 

Damaged Cartridge

A common cause of leaking faucets are damaged cartridges. A faucet that has one handle for hot water and another for cold is called a cartridge-style faucet. Your cartridge controls the flow of the water into the faucet spout.


This small disc is attached to a stem screw and holds the handle of the faucet in the correct place. Located in the sink’s faucet, they can become loose or worn over time. If you notice that the leak is emerging from the  

Water Pressure

Sometimes, when our taps only drip when the faucet’s handles move a certain way, then the water pressure of your home might be the reason for leaks. High water pressure will put unnecessary strain on the plumbing system within a home. 

Cold Weather

If your home is not heated properly in the cold weather, pipes can burst and your faucet may suffer. One way to relieve pressure is by allowing your faucet to drip while temperatures are freezing. When there is water moving in the pipes, they are less likely to freeze. The damage and cost that comes from a burst pipe is much more excessive than allowing your faucet to drip for a few hours.

Repairing your Faucet

Often, you are able to fix your leaky faucet without the help of the plumber. If the problem of your leaking faucet is a worn washer/gasket, loose O-ring or corroded valve seat, you can fix this problem easily with faucet repair kits

  • Firstly, you will want to turn off the water supply for the faucet. Next, open the handles to drain remaining water. 
  • As you work with small parts while taking a faucet apart, closing or plugging your drain is a good idea. That way, you don’t lose important materials in the pipes. 
  • You will have to remove the faucet handle(s). However, the instructions of this step vary depending on which type of faucet you have. If there is a screw behind the handle, you can use an Allen wrench or hex key to remove it. If the handle has a top screw cover, you will want to pry it off with a flat screwdriver and then set the part aside. You can then use a Phillips screwdriver to loosen the screw underneath the cover. Next, pull the handle(s) free. 
  • In most two-handled faucets, there is a cartridge or faucet system that regulates the flow of the hot and cold water. You can use a wrench to loosen the nut in the handle assembly and set it aside. Now, you can gently pull the part straight up and out. 


  • If the cartridge or stem is the culprit for your dripping faucet, you can replace it. Since cartridges and stems come in a variety of shapes and sizes, you want to make sure you have the faucet’s model number and the name of the faucet’s manufacturer. Making sure you clean and dry the area around the handle and the parts with a cloth is important. Next, you can inspect the O-rings to make sure they are not damaged or worn. Once everything looks good, you can align and insert the new cartridge or stem.
  • Lastly, reattach your faucet handle, turn the water line back on, and remove any debris. You will want to run both hot and cold water in your faucet for a few minutes to make sure everything is running smoothly and that the leaks are gone. Moreover, you will want to check and make sure your aerator (the piece that screws on the end of the faucet spout) is not clogged. 

Replacing a faucet

When to Replace Your Faucets

Faucet replacement is inevitable. When your faucet begins to leak or isn’t running properly, your water bills get more expensive and you may need repairs more often. There are a few signs that your faucet is ready for retirement.

When to get a new faucet

A constant drip noise is frustrating, but constantly fixing that dripping noise only to have it return a few days later is even worse. Nobody has the time or energy to spend each day monitoring their faucet for leaks. If you have had your faucet for 15 to 20 years, it’s already at the end of its lifespan. 

After 15 years, a faucet becomes less efficient, and you will notice the change in your water bills. Repairs will add up and become more expensive than replacing the sink, so we suggest biting the bullet and getting rid of your old faucet. 


Cleaning your faucet regularly will prolong its life. If your water is harder, the high mineral content can leave deposits and build up and wear on parts. The aerator is an important feature that is a prime spot for debris build up. They are available at many hardware stores if you want to buy a new one, or you can clean it. You can remove the part from the faucet, clean the screen with a toothbrush, and soak components in vinegar. 

Look into your warranty because your faucet might have a limited or lifetime warranty to help save you money. 


Understanding your faucet can help you avoid extra expenses and waste of a leaking, aging faucet. There are four main types of faucet styles with different pros and cons, but they all require varying levels of maintenance and repair. If your O-ring is corroded, your washers are broken, or there are issues with your valve seat and cartridge, you can likely repair these issues yourself. We only recommend allowing your faucet to drip if the temperatures are freezing to avoid a burst pipe. If you want help with bigger problems such as broken pipes or faucet replacements, you can always contact a plumber

After 15 or 20 years, your faucet will likely need a replacement even if you keep up with regular maintenance. Remember that your faucet can live a long life if you clean the aerator annually and keep an eye out for drips and leaks. 

MacLeod’s Plumbing and Heating

If you have any faucet-related questions or emergencies, you can contact MacLeod’s Plumbing and Heating. Our family-run business has over 20 years of industry-leading experience under our tool belts! Previous customers have offered great reviews, and we are always ready to help you get to the bottom of any problem. 

Call today for any and all of your plumbing needs. We get the job done right the first time.

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