Stop That Dripping Faucet Handle With A Fast DIY Fix
Is your kitchen faucet driving you crazy with a constant drip-drip-drip? That leaking handle can be more than just annoying—it can waste hundreds of gallons of water every month and lead to higher utility bills.
The good news is that 9 times out of 10, the cause of a leaky faucet handle is an easy fix—worn out rubber washers or o-rings that just need replacing. With a few basic tools and supplies, you can stop that maddening drip and restore your faucet to working order in less than an hour.
Diagnosing The Source of The Leak
Before you can fix that dripping faucet, you need to locate exactly where the leak is coming from. Carefully examine around the base of the handle where it attaches to the faucet. Look for water droplets or crusty mineral deposits. Turn the handle on and off and watch for drips.
Also check the connection points between the faucet spout and body and underneath the sink where the water supply lines connect. The leak could be coming from worn washers or o-rings in any of these spots.
Signs It’s The Handle
If water only leaks out when you turn the handle and not continuously, that points to a handle-related issue rather than a problem with the spout or supply lines. Other clues include the handle feeling stiff or sticky, lower water pressure, or the leak getting worse over time.
When To Call A Plumber
If the leak is coming from where the spout connects to the faucet body or from the supply line connections, the cause may be more complex like damaged valve seats or supply line issues. Leaks originating higher up in the faucet assembly can also signal worn washers or o-rings inside the faucet cartridge that control mixing and water flow.
Repairing these internal faucet components involves disassembling the faucet body and requires specialized tools and expertise. Unless you’re very handy, it’s best to call a professional plumber for complex faucet repairs.
Preparing For The Handle Repair
For a straightforward handle replacement, a few simple preparation steps will ensure the job goes smoothly.
- Adjustable wrenches
- Replacement washers or o-rings
- Cloth or rag
Consult your faucet model’s owner’s manual if you have it to verify the right replacement parts.
Turn Off Water Supply
Locate the shutoff valves underneath the sink and turn them clockwise to stop the water supply. This prevents flooding while you work.
Remove The Handle
Most handles attach to the faucet body with a single set screw on the side or underside. Locate this screw and loosen it with a screwdriver until the handle slides off easily.
Completing The Faucet Handle Fix
Once the handle is off, you can identify and replace the source of the leak.
Replace Worn Washers/O-Rings
Carefully remove the old washer/o-ring from inside the handle or faucet body. Examine the size and shape. Purchase a replacement that exactly matches.
Put the new washer/o-ring into place, apply plumber’s grease to the component to help create a watertight seal, and reassemble the handle.
Clean Away Mineral Buildup
Hard water deposits around washers and o-rings can prevent a tight seal. Use a toothbrush or mild abrasive pad to gently scrub away any grimy buildup before installing the new part.
Tighten Loose Components
Check for loose set screws, nuts, or other fasteners. Tighten anything loose with a wrench or screwdriver to prevent further leaks.
Re-Install The Handle
Slide the freshly repaired handle back onto the faucet assembly and tighten the set screw. Don’t over tighten.
Turn The Water Back On
Slowly turn the shutoff valves counterclockwise to restore water supply. Check for any drips or leaks as the pressure returns. Tighten anything that isn’t completely sealed.
With a few basic tools and replacement parts, you can take care of a leaky faucet handle yourself quickly and easily. No more wasting water or listening to that maddening dripping noise.
For more complex faucet repairs involving internal cartridges or supply lines, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber. They have the expertise to diagnose and fix any faucet issue.