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What Causes My Faucet to Drip?

A dripping faucet can be a real nuisance, especially the ones that seem to be loud enough to hear across the entire house.

Many people do call a plumber for these kinds of repairs, and places like the Plumbing Detectives (a plumber in Mosman) gets plenty of them. But even they feel that there is no reason why you can’t fix a leaking faucet yourself.

Why Does It Drip?

The problem isn’t at the end of the spout; it’s in the faucet handles. That’s where the water is (supposedly) blocked when turned in the off positions. If there is dripping, it means the faucets aren’t sealing tightly and a slight trickle of water is flowing out the tap. So when you have a dripping faucet, look to the handles not the end of the tap itself.

How to Fix It?

The solution is basically to replace the rubber seal inside the handle so that it blocks the water properly again. While it’s simple, it can be a challenge to take the faucet apart and get all the pieces back together again. As long as you take your time, and pay attention to each piece as it comes off, you should be able to re-assemble without too much problem. Turn off the main water supply, and get started.

The first step is to remove the actual handle. There may be an exposed nut for this, or you might have to pry off a decorative cap in the top. Once you remove the main handle, there will be a series of other parts to come out (check online for some diagrams of typical faucets to help you through this).

The parts you are looking for are the rubber washers and/or O-rings. These are the pieces that compress when the faucet is off and block the flow of water. When these get stiff, brittle or otherwise damaged with use, they no longer seal off the water pressure. Just replace them with fresh ones and carefully put all the faucet pieces back together. Turn the main water back on and hopefully your faucet won’t be dripping.

You may have a single lever-style faucet rather than the usual pair of hot and cold handle, but the general idea is still the same.

Why Bother?

Considering some of the more dire renovation needs around the house, you might feel that the dripping faucet ranks way down on the importance list. While it’s true that not much damage is going to be caused by the continually dripping tap, you are wasting a lot more water than you realize.

On average, if you tap is dripping just one drop per second, you’ll see more than 3,000 gallons of water wasted by the end of the year. Needless to say, that can have an impact on your water bill as well as the environment in general. Since it’s a small job, don’t leave it for too long. Whether you tackle it as a DIY repair or call in a professional, it should be taken care of before your water bill starts to go up.

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