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What 5 Things Cause a Leaky Faucet?

What 5 Things Cause a Leaky Faucet?

Tap… tap… tap… tap…

It’s Monday morning, and the dull tap-tap has been coming from your kitchen since late last night.

After dinner, you’d washed some fruit at the kitchen faucet to make a smoothie. It was working fine. So…you don’t understand what could have happened in the night.

Whether it’s a faucet in your bathroom or kitchen, leaky faucets rank among the most common problems you’ll face in your home.

Common or not, leaky faucets are also a PAIN. And they come in stealthily, always unannounced.

There are many additional problems leaky faucets can cause in your home, too, among them:

  • Flooded floors
  • Water waste (and inflated water bills)
  • Mold
  • Structural damage to your home

But, what actually causes leaky faucets in your home? What signs should you look for, too? …And how bad can each symptom get?

Keep reading to find out…

5 Causes of Leaky Faucets in Your Home

Faucets leak for many reasons—some are smaller, solve-it-yourself problems, and others require the expertise of a handyman or licensed plumber.

Here are the most common causes of a leaky faucet:

  • Worn-out cartridge
  • Water pressure
  • Faulty washer installation
  • Rusted valve seat
  • Broken pipe

1: A worn-out cartridge

Your faucet’s cartridge controls the rate at which water flows out of it. So, if the cartridge is old and worn-out, it can malfunction (it won’t fully hold back water). This leads to a leaky and annoying drip, drip, drip…

This is sometimes light, intermittent dripping, but can even be heavy, frequent leaking depending on how worn-out the cartridge is. Either way, replace the cartridge as soon as you can. If it’s not fully worn out, it will be soon.

2: High water pressure

Your home’s water pressure can also be the cause of your leakage—especially if several faucets in your home are leaking in a short span of time.

Often, when leak is due to water pressure, you notice that the faucets don’t leak every time.

High water pressure sounds enjoyable for a hot shower, but it’s a major cause of leaky faucets! Leaky faucets are only one of the home plumbing issues high water pressure can cause, too…and you don’t want ANY of them in your home!!

3: The wrong washer installation

In a faucet’s set-up, the washer rests on the valve and serves as a seal to the faucet. It also controls the rate water jets out at.

Washers are prone to easy wearing out since the friction between the washer and the valve is high.

If the washer is incorrectly installed from the start, there’s no doubt that your faucet will leak. This is often a minor leakage that you could easily resolve yourself…once you’ve confirmed that this is the problem.

4: A rusted valve seat

The valve seat is like the lifeline of your faucet…it connects the faucet to the spout. One good way of picking out a leakage caused by a rusted valve seat is to check if the leakage is from the spout itself.

If your faucet’s leaking at the valve, specifically, there’s a high chance that the issue is with the valve seat. When water sediments accumulate over time, they have gradual effects on your faucet’s valve seat. These effects range from mild to severe, with the eventuality (and most severe) being rust.

Once the valve seat becomes rusted, your faucet will leak. The moment you notice that, you know what to do—replace the valve seat with a new, shiny one!  

5: A broken pipe

Sometimes, a faucet is leaking and you can instantly tell that the leak is from the pipe underneath the faucet. You’ll notice for sure, because the floor will be damp or flooded, too!

In these cases, the leak is most likely caused by damage to the pipe itself or to its fitting. This could cause serious leakage if left unaddressed, so call in the handyman or plumber!

How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

Step 1: Get to know your faucet type

This is essential…first determine your faucet type, because that will determine how you’ll disassemble it! Your faucet could be any of these common types:

  • Ball
  • Cartridge
  • Ceramic

Once you’ve determined your faucet type, you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Cut off the water supply

The next step is to cut off the water supply to your faucet. You don’t want your floor messier than it might already be! Switch off the direct water supply to the leaky faucet.

Step 3: Block the drain

Next, block the drain. This could be your sink’s drain or your bathtub’s, depending on which faucet is leaking. This prevents any of the components of your faucet from escaping between the drain’s holes.

Step 4: Unscrew the faucet handle

Finally, gently unscrew your faucet’s handle from the stem. The handles could require you to use a screwdriver—that all depends on your faucet type.

Step 5: Remove the valve stem

The next thing is to loosen your faucet’s nuts and valve stem. This also depends on your faucet type. For cartridge faucets, you only need to pull the valve stem out. At this point, you might want to go over your faucet’s manual for the best way to remove the valve stem.

Step 6: Fix to the issue

Once you’ve removed the valve stem, attend to the issue you identified at the outset. Are you needing a new washer? Install it. Is your valve stem rusted? Replace it.

Step 7: Reassemble your faucet

Finally, the last thing is to re-assemble your faucet, following the steps above in reverse order.

What’s next? Turn the knob to test if your faucet’s still leaking. If it still leaks, it’s time to call a handyman.

Although leaky faucet rank among the most common issues in the home, some of the problems behind them are simple-to-solve. Just be sure to tend to the issue right away so the issue doesn’t get more serious.

It’s good to stay ahead of bigger problems…which is why we have a Home Troubleshooting Guide tailored to help you deal with those little issues with the potential to lead to big, complex problems. It’s free to download! Get yours below…

Get your complimentary Home Troubleshooting Guide!

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