QUESTION: My faucet is leaking. What's causing it?


A leaky faucet can add hundreds of dollars to your water bill. A persistent leak can also be a sign of a much bigger plumbing problem.

The location of the leak is the first clue as to the source of the problem. Water leaking from under the faucet handle may be due to faulty O-ring. The O-ring is small rubber ring located around the valve stem. Simply replacing the O-ring will typically solve the problem.

A damaged or loose seat washer may cause your faucet to drip or chatter even after it is turned off. This usually occurs when the faucet is used repeatedly. If you have a newer faucet, the plastic valve cartridge or seat and spring may need to be replaced.

A faucet may develop a leak if the valve seat becomes corroded. Older valve seats, which were typically brass, could be resurfaced and reused. Today’s plastic valve seats must be replaced.

Another common problem is water leaking from around the base of a kitchen faucet spout. This normally entails removing the spout and replacing two O-rings. If the spout is badly pitted, the new O-rings may not seal properly. In this situation, the best option is to replace the entire faucet. If the spout is still in good condition, you should be able to fix the problem with new O-rings. It is important to rub plumber’s grease into the O-rings before replacing the faucet over the base. This repair can be a little difficult to get right, so you may want to contact a professional.

In disc cartridge faucets, a worn inlet or outlet seal can cause a leak. These parts can become worn or damaged as a result of the repeated opening and closing of the cartridge as the faucet is used so that the seal no longer fits into the hole in the cartridge cylinder. The calcium and minerals in the water can also wear away at small imperfections created during the brass casting process. As the brass wears away, small rivulets form on the surface of the brass. This can be difficult to see since they can blend in with the surface of the brass. A leak can also occur when the O-ring develops cracks or imperfections. A plumbing expert can clean built-up sediment from the faucet, which may improve its performance, or even replace any worn components.

Hard water, frequent use, and even cleaning products can affect the performance of your faucet and eventually cause leaks. If none of the above remedies resolve your leak, you most likely will need to replace the faucet. If you choose to purchase and replace the faucet yourself, you will need to make sure that you choose one that will fit the existing mounting holes in your sink. If you are replacing parts inside your faucet, it is best to replace all of the parts to ensure the best seal. Our plumbing experts are also happy to handle the repair for you.