How to Fix a Leaky Sink In Your Kitchen
By Jacquelyn Nause
Leaky faucets aren’t just irritating, they waste water and are an unwanted expense. Oftentimes the hardest part is finding any necessary replacement parts. Here are tips and information on how to fix a leaky sink in just an hour or two.
Gather Your Tools
The tools you’ll need for a faucet repair vary a bit depending on what type and style of faucet you have. However, a set of Allen wrenches, a screwdriver and large slip-joint pliers should be able to handle any faucet repair. Wrap the jaws of your pliers with masking tape to prevent damage to the faucet finish.
Identify the Leak Source
No matter the repair, remember these basics before you embark on fixing your leaky sink. First, examine the faucet to see the source of the leak, which should be either the base or the spout.
Turn Off the Water
Turn off the water supply below the sink or at the main water valve. Once the water is off, open the faucet to a neutral position, and cover the drain hole to avoid losing any small parts.
Remove the Old Faucet
Pay attention to how the faucet is oriented and installed as you remove it. Set the parts aside in order, or take pictures or video during the process, to help you remember how to put it all back together. You can also look at manuals for various faucet brands and styles online to see how it is assembled.
Inspect and Clean Each Part
Inspect each part for damage or debris, cleaning each one and carefully setting it aside so nothing is lost.
If there is any damage or corrosion, replace the piece with a standard repair kit for the brand and model of faucet you have. Below are several faucet types with some info on typical repairs they require.
You can take a picture or branded part of the faucet to any hardware store or plumbing specialist to find the right replacement part. If you can’t readily find it in a store, you may need to call the manufacturer.
Reassemble the Faucet
Once you are ready to reassemble the faucet, hold a rag over the spout and open the water shutoff valve just slightly in order to flush out any debris that might later clog the system.
There are many types of faucets on the market, from basic to ornate, pull-down sprayer styles and more. We will cover the three main types of faucet repair. For more detailed information, refer to the manufacturer of your specific faucet.
To repair a compression faucet, use the Allen wrench to remove the set screw and handle. You may first need to pop off the decorative handle cap. Remove all the parts in order, checking for damage or debris, starting with the packing nut, then stem and seat washer.
Most leaky compression-style faucets need new seat washers or O-rings. O-rings can range in size, so it is important to get the right size for your faucet. Plumbers or packing grease can withstand hot water temperatures and help protect the components of the faucet. Coat O-rings with packing grease before reseating. Tighten the packing nut and reassemble the faucet.
Ball-type faucets contain a lot of parts, but you can avoid a lot of frustration by first purchasing the appropriate replacement kit for your faucet.
Remove the handle set screw and lift off the handle. Use adjustable pliers to remove the cap and collar. If the faucet is leaking from the base, you may be able to repair the leak by tightening the adjusting ring under the cap. If leaking from the spout, continue to remove the cam and packing, then carefully lift out the ball, inspecting for damage.
Inspecting their orientation first, remove the springs and seats, replacing with new seats and springs in the recesses, pressing the seats in with your fingertip. Align the ball and drop it in, setting the cam and packing into the adjusting ring and on top of the ball. Tighten the adjusting ring and test for leaks, finally reseating and installing the handle.
If your faucet handle has a decorative cap, first pry it off to expose the handle screw, removing that as well. Remove the handle, then pull out the cartridge and threaded retaining clip (if present). Remove the spout and old O-rings, or cut with a utility knife. After coating new O-rings with packing grease, reassemble the unit.
With these tips and basics, you should be able to fix leaky faucet spouts or bases without having to call the plumber.
Jacquelyn Nause is a contributing writer with specialties in real estate, parenting and wellness. She enjoys traveling with her husband, being a doting mother to her two incredible kids and enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest playground.