29 September 2021

Dealing with a leaky faucet

Photo by Jos Speetjens on Unsplash

When you turn your faucet off and it doesn't actually shut off completely, panic usually sets it. After you’re done getting angry, you usually need to call a plumber  or head to the hardware store to try to fix the problem. But, what should you purchase? A lot of DIY solutions just aren't right, and they can actually leave you worse off than when you started. Plumbing is a profession for a reason and it's important to know when to defer to the professionals. 

If you don't understand how plumbing works, the time to learn us not during a plumbing emergency. So after you've called for help with your Pittsburgh plumbing, here's a quick primer on faucets to study while you wait. 

Determine where the leak is coming from

If you don’t know where the leak is coming from, you can’t fix it - period. So, try to determine if it’s leaking just from the faucet itself or if the water is also coming out of the handle. If it’s leaking from the faucet, you may need to replace a seal, or you might need to replace the whole faucet, depending on what’s damaged and how badly.

If the leak is coming from the handle, it may be a simple O-ring. When the plumber arrives, point out the source of the leak and ask his or her opinion.

Shut the water off

Shut the water off before the plumber arrives to minimize water loss. When the plumber arrives he or she will turn it back on to see the leak in action.

The shut-off valve for most kitchen sinks is usually underneath the sink. It’s a small handle that you can turn to shut the water off. Sometimes, it’s a lever.

See if you can remove your faucet handle

If you have a single-handled faucet, pry the small plastic cap off the top of the handle. If you have a dual-handle faucet, you’ll need to take the decorative cap off both the hot and cold water handles. If you have a handle-style faucet, instead of a twist knob, you can usually unscrew the end of the handle and then unscrew the fixture. If you're unsure don't try this, wait for the plumber.

The business part of a faucet is the cartridge, and it lies underneath the decorative cap or handle. If the cartridge is worn out or cracked, it’s entirely possible that water could be seeping through here to the spout.

Fortunately, this piece usually pops out so that you can replace it. If it doesn't you may need to replace the entire faucet unit.

That cartridge usually has rubber O-rings that it uses to fully shut off the water supply. These O-rings can wear out or crack over time and it's the O-rings that are the usual culprits in a leaky faucet.

There are many professionals to turn for help with your Pittsburgh plumbing, but unless you know what you're doing, you are not one of them. Call a plumber!

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