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Fix a Leaky Kitchen Faucet in 5 Easy Steps

Gabriela Connell
4 minute read

Is your kitchen faucet dripping constantly? Those small leaks can quickly turn into a huge hassle and expense if left unrepaired. Don’t despair – with a few basic tools and DIY troubleshooting, you can easily fix a leaky faucet and stop the maddening drip, drip, drip in no time.

We’ll also cover when it makes sense to call in a plumber for more complex fixes. Follow these 5 easy steps to restore your kitchen faucet to working order.

Step 1: Locate the Source of the Leak

Before you can fix a leaky faucet, you need to pinpoint exactly where the water is coming from. Start by taking a visual inspection of the faucet exterior. Are drips coming from where the spout meets the faucet body? Is water escaping from the base of the faucet near the sink connections? Check where the sprayer hose attaches or if you have a soap dispenser, look for leaks there as well.

kitchen sink faucet leaking at base

Next, move under the sink to get a better vantage point. Turn on both the hot and cold water taps and see if you can spot the drip’s origin. Carefully inspect the water supply line connections for any moisture or gaps that could cause leaks. Also examine the faucet base where the mounting nuts attach it to the sink – leaks often occur here from loose fittings.

Isolate the Leak Source

To zero in on the leak, turn the faucet on and off and see if the dripping gets worse when the water is running. This indicates the leak is spout-related. Try removing the aerator or disconnecting the sprayer and turning on the water – if leaks stop, you know the problem is isolated to those components.

Use these troubleshooting tips to pinpoint the problematic area before moving on to repairs.

Step 2: Tighten Loose Connections

An easy first step to stop many kitchen faucet leaks is tightening fittings and connections that have loosened over time. This quick fix could restore your faucet to working order without replacing any parts.

Tighten Mounting Nuts at Faucet Base

Under the sink, use a basin wrench to reach the mounting nuts that secure the faucet base to the bottom of the sink. Tighten the nuts firmly, but take care not to over-tighten them.

Proper tightening could stop leaks originating from this area immediately and save you more extensive repairs.

Inspect Water Supply Line Connections

Check where the flexible water supply lines connect to the faucet’s shut-off valves below the sink. Use an adjustable wrench to tighten any loose coupling nuts. If the existing nylon washers appear worn, swap them out for new ones while you have the connections disassembled.

Check Spray Hose and Weight Connections

For kitchen faucets with pull-out spray heads, ensure the spray hose is firmly hand-tightened to its fitting under the sink. Also check that the counterweight that keeps the hose from tangling is securely attached.

Step 3: Replace Faucet Washers and O-Rings

If tightening didn’t stop the drip, replacing worn rubber washers and o-rings is an easy and inexpensive way to fix many common leaks. Have a variety pack of these small but vital faucet parts on hand for quick repairs.

Handle Connections

If the leak is coming from around the handles, carefully remove the handle and you will find a small rubber washer inside. Pull out the old washer and replace it with a matching new one. Make sure to apply some plumber’s grease before re-installing the handle.

Spout Connection

For leaks where the spout connects to the faucet, start by removing the spout. Look for a circular o-ring near the base and swap it for a replacement. Verify the new o-ring is properly seated before re-attaching the spout.

Supply Line Connections

Leaks originating from supply line connections likely indicate crushed or damaged washers. Disassemble the joints one at a time and replace old washers with new ones. A small dab of silicone grease makes re-tightening the couplings easier and creates a better watertight seal.

Step 4: Repair or Replace Internal Components

For stubborn leaks or drips from the spout when the faucet is on, you may need to venture into more advanced repairs of internal parts like cartridges, stems, and supply lines.

Cartridge Replacement

If you have a two-handle faucet, a faulty cartridge could cause leaks from either handle when turned on. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to identify the right cartridge model for your faucet and properly replace it.

Stem Assembly Repair

On two-handle faucets with compression valve stems, worn washers, o-rings, or seat rings in the stem assembly could need replacement to fix handle leaks.

Supply Line Replacement

Consider replacing old rigid supply tubes with new flexible stainless steel braided lines when you have the faucet disassembled for internal repairs. Ensure any new supply hoses are long enough for hassle-free installation.

Step 5: Faucet Replacement (if needed)

If you have an older leaky faucet and repairs don’t resolve the issues, a full faucet replacement may be necessary. Start by shutting off hot and cold water supply valves and disconnecting the old faucet.

Install any new mounting hardware that came with your faucet on the existing sink or countertop holes. Then connect the water supply and drain lines to the new faucet.

Finish up by leak testing your work after turning the water back on. If no leaks are present, you can enjoy your upgraded drip-free kitchen faucet!

While no one likes dealing with leaky faucets, timely diagnosis and repair provides an opportunity to refresh worn washers, o-rings, and connection points before major issues develop.

Stay ahead of problems by periodically inspecting your kitchen faucet for any early signs of drips or loose fittings. A few preventive repairs now can avoid water damage headaches down the road.

With this simple handy guide, many common kitchen faucet leaks are easy DIY fixes. But if you cannot isolate the source of the leak, repairs are not resolving the issue, or you are uncomfortable making complex repairs, don’t hesitate to call in a professional plumber.