Conservco Logo
ConservCo®
550 West Plumb Lane, Suite B-147
Reno, Nevada 89509
(775) 747-3333

EASY WATER CONSERVATION REPAIRS

Repairing A Leaky Faucet

Before you begin repairing your faucet, you need to know what type it is. There are essentially just three different types of faucets that are likely to be in your home. They are Compression, Ball, and Washerless. Here's how to repair a leak in each type.

Repairing a Compression Faucet with the DripStop® Valve
Troubleshooting
Replacing a Faucet Seat
Repairing a Ball Faucet
Washerless Faucets
Repairing a Ceramic Disc Faucet
Repairing A Cartridge Faucet
Repairing A Leaky Supply Line
Repairing a Leaky Appliance Connection
Repairing a Leaky Toilet

Repairing a Compression Faucet with the DripStop® Valve

A compression faucet is the traditional faucet found in most homes. It has two handles, one each for hot water and cold water. A compression faucet seals when a rubber washer attached to the end of a stem is smashed down onto a seat inside the faucet. Here's how to replace the washer:

  1. Remove the stem assembly from the faucet (you might want to cover the retaining nut – that's the nut that holds the stem assembly in place – with a thin towel to protect it from being marred by the teeth of your wrench).
  2. Using a screwdriver, remove the old rubber washer from the end of the stem.
  3. Screw the DripStop® Valve into the exact place on the faucet stem where you took out the old washer.
  4. Replace the stem assembly and tighten with the wrench.
Return to the top of the page

Troubleshooting

If the faucet continues to leak after replacing the washer, then there may be a problem with its stem or seat.

The easiest way to find out which one of these is the issue is to determine where the leak is coming from. Water will usually be leaking from just one of a few places:

  1. From the handle – this could mean a broken stem
  2. From underneath the sink – this could mean bad supply lines
  3. From the spout – this could mean a broken seat
Return to the top of the page

Water is leaking from the handle

If water is leaking from the handle, the problem may be as minor as a loose stem. Check this first. If the stem feels loose to the touch, tighten it as much as you can by hand. Then carefully tighten it further with a wrench or pair of pliers, making sure not to over tighten it.

If the handle still leaks, or the stem was not loose when you checked it, then the cause may be a broken stem or stem seal. To determine if this is the case, remove the stem just as you did when you originally replaced the old washer. Now, take a look at the threads in the middle of the stem. If the stem's threads are worn down, stripped, or frayed, then you will have to replace the stem. Take it to your local hardware store to confirm that this is the cause of your leak.

If the threads look okay, then look at the material used to seal the stem. This seal will come from either:

  1. A string attached to the top of the stem (only found in very old faucets)
  2. A washer inside the retaining nut (the retaining holds the top of the stem down onto your sink or to the base of the faucet)
  3. An O-ring in a groove somewhere in the middle part of the stem. (Note: in some cases, there may be more than one O-ring)

Now, take a close look. How you repair the stem seal depends on what type of material is actually used.

Return to the top of the page

Does your faucet use packing string?

If the packing string is frayed, remove the old string and tightly wrap new packing string around the stem. Make sure any excess is cut away. If you need help, visit your local hardware store or call a licensed plumber.

Return to the top of the page

Does your faucet use a washer in the stem-retaining nut?

If the washer inside the stem-retaining nut is cracked, broken, or worn down, remove the old washer from the nut. Clean out any debris that might be in there. Then, simply replace the old washer with a new one. If you need help, visit your local hardware store or call a licensed plumber.

Return to the top of the page

Water is leaking from underneath the sink.

If water is leaking from underneath your sink, check to see if the water supply lines are loose. If they are, tighten them as far as you can by hand. Then carefully tighten them further with a wrench, making sure not to over tighten them.

Return to the top of the page

Water is leaking from the faucet spout

If water is still leaking from the spout of your faucet, it could mean that the seat is broken and needs to be replaced. (NOTE: in many cases where the seat is chipped or worn, and in faucets where a seat cannot be removed, using a faucet washer replacement, like the DripStop® Valve should alleviate the need to replace the seat, since the DripStop® Valve will even seal in a faucet with chipped or worn seats).

Nevertheless, replacing an old faucet seat is a simple task. Here's how:

Return to the top of the page

Replacing A Faucet Seat

    1. Remove the stem assembly from the faucet (you might want to cover the retaining nut – that's the nut that holds the stem assembly in place – with a thin towel to protect it from being marred by the teeth of your wrench)
    2. Remove the old seat. Do this by inserting the seat wrench into the center of the seat (it will fit right in there). When the wrench fits snugly, tap the curved end of it with the palm of your hand so that it (the seat wrench and the seat itself) turns in a counter-clockwise motion. Then, unscrew the seat as you would the nut on a bolt.
    3. Install the new seat. Do this by placing it onto the threads of the opening where you just removed the old seat and wiggle it until its threads catch onto the threads in the hole. Hand tighten the seat as much as you can. Then, use the seat wrench to finish the job. (Note: To create the best possible seal, wrap the threads of the seat with Teflon® tape or other thread sealant).
    4. Replace the stem assembly and tighten with a crescent or pipe wrench.
    Return to the top of the page

Repairing A Ball Faucet

A ball faucet is a one-handled faucet that allows you to regulate the water's temperature by moving the handle to the left or right. The faucet seals when the handle is lowered. This is because the "valve" inside the handle, which really is a ball, has two little holes in it. Lowering the handle rolls those holes away from the passageway through which water flows. Moving the handle to the left allows hot water to flow through one of the two holes, and moving it to the right allows cold water to flow through the other one. This type of faucet will leak when the spring and seal assemblies surrounding the holes wear out.

Before you begin, you should know that ball faucets have a lot of parts in them. So, having a repair kit, complete with all the necessary parts is a good idea. You can find repair kits at your local hardware store. And even though the most likely cause of the leak will be a worn rubber seat, you may as well replace all the faucet's parts while you are making them repair. Here's how to make the repair:

  1. Make sure the water is shut off before you begin, then remove the handle. There is a little screw inset at the base of the handle. Remove the screw and the handle should come off with very little effort.
  2. Depending on the specific brand of faucet you have, there will be a circular cam underneath the handle and or the actual faucet spout assembly. Below that will be the ball. Remove whatever parts you must to get to the ball.
  3. Inspect the ball itself. If it is damaged, then you will have to replace it. Replacing the seats and springs in a damaged ball will only cause you to replace them again in a matter of time, since a nicked or scratched ball can rapidly wear down those new seats.
  4. If the ball looks okay, then look inside the base of the faucet. Spaced apart (at the same distance as the two holes in the ball) you will see two rubber seats, held in place by small springs. Pull those seats and springs out and replace them with the ones in the kit you got from the hardware store.
  5. Replace everything you removed to get to the ball (making sure to put each piece back in the exact same place you took it from) and reassemble the faucet
Return to the top of the page

Washerless Faucets

Washerless faucets come in two different varieties: ceramic disc and cartridge systems. Ceramic disc faucets have two handles, just like compression faucets. The only difference is how their internal mechanics work to seal off the flow of water. Washerless faucets that use a cartridge system are typically one-handled faucets, but their sealing mechanism is quite different from that of a ball faucet.

Return to the top of the page

Repairing a Ceramic Disc Faucet

A ceramic disc faucet uses two small finely polished ceramic discs to create a seal. Each disc has an opening to allow water to flow through it. When the discs are aligned, water flows freely. When the discs are out of alignment, a seal is created.

Although a ceramic disc faucet is typically more expensive than the other types of faucets mentioned here, it is actually one of the easiest to repair. This is because most ceramic disc faucets are equipped with a single-unit assembly, which can be repaired simply by removing the old one and replacing it with a new one that you can get from your local hardware store. Here is all you need to do this:

  1. Shut off the water and remove the handle.
  2. Then, using a pair of pliers, pull out the old disc assembly.
  3. There will be an o-ring underneath the disc assembly. In most cases, the replacement assembly you get from the hardware store will include a new o-ring. Replace the o-ring.
  4. Install the new disc assembly. Tighten the retaining screws. Replace the handle. And that's it. Simple!
Return to the top of the page

Repairing a Cartridge Faucet

A cartridge faucet is similar to a ball faucet, in that the single handle slides up and down to turn the water on and off, and moves from left to right to control hot and cold temperature. The difference is that a cartridge faucet uses a cylindrical stem (which can be made out of brass or plastic) and o-rings instead of a ball with washers (seats) and springs. Repairing a cartridge faucet is as easy as repairing a ceramic disc faucet. Here's how:

  1. Shut off the water and remove the handle.
  2. Remove the retaining clip that holds the cartridge into place. Some faucets also use a plastic spanner cap, which can easily be removed by being twisted back and forth with a pair of pliers.
  3. Then pull out the old cartridge.
  4. Push the new cartridge down into the exact same place where you pulled out the old one.
    Replace the retaining clips and the faucet handle, and you're done.
Return to the top of the page

Repairing a Leaky Supply Line

If supply line leak, it is often because they are simply loose. If they are, tighten them as far as you can by hand. Then carefully tighten them just slightly further with a wrench. Just make sure not to over tighten them.

If the line still leaks, they may need to be replaced. Replacements can be found at your local hardware store.

Return to the top of the page

Repairing a Leaky Appliance Connection

Repairing a leaky appliance connection is the same as repairing a leaky compression faucet. Turn off the water. Remove the hose that connects the faucet to the appliance and check for leaks. If the faucet leaks, replace its washer, as you would the washer in any other compression faucet.

Return to the top of the page

Repairing a Leaky Toilet

To determine if your toilet is leaking, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank. If the water in the bowl turns color, then you've got a leak.

If you have used the food coloring technique and determined that your toilet is indeed leaking, repairing it is a very simple job. And the most common cause of a leaky toilet is a worn flapper valve.

The flapper valve is a large rubber seal located in the middle of the bottom of the tank. It is typically attached by a chain to an arm that's connected to the toilet's handle.

Here's how to make the repair:

  1. First, turn off the water. The supply valve is usually located under the lower left part of the tank.
  2. Flush the toilet so that water drains out of the tank.
  3. Take off the lid of the tank and check the flapper valve. Make sure it's clean and smooth. If it's dirty or has a build up of minerals or algae on it, then it may not be able to seal properly. Also make sure that the tank drain is clean and smooth.
  4. If either the flapper or the drain has any build up on them, simply clean them up so that they are both clean and smooth.
  5. If the flapper is dried, warped, cracked, or pitted, replace it.
  6. Before you replace the tank lid, check the chain that links the flapper to the arm. Make sure there is some slack in the chain. If it's too tight, it can hold the flapper open enough to allow the leak to persist. If there is too much slack, then the chain can get caught between the flapper and drain.
Return to the top of the page