A leaking outdoor faucet is one of the most common problems in the home. It can be the result of one of the following causes:
- damaged or worn gasket
- dirt deposits on the seat
- damaged saddle
- damaged ceramic discs (quarter-turn faucets).
Valve gasket replacement
Replacing a faucet gasket is a relatively simple process. The first thing to do is turn off the water supply to the faucet, then open the faucet as much as possible to make sure no water is leaking from it before proceeding.
The pictures show slight differences in the design of the faucets. Basically, the faucet has either a retractable or non-retractable spindle. Also, these types of valves may be called “rising” spindle valves and permanent valve valves, respectively. A non-rising spindle valve may also be called a cone stopper valve.
A valve with a rising spindle usually has an easy-to-clean chrome-plated bonnet that must be removed to reach the nut of the valve head/bucket underneath it with a wrench.
To remove this shroud, grip it tightly and turn it counterclockwise to unscrew it. You may need to use a wrench to do this, but be careful not to damage the chrome plating.
The handwheel will not allow the casing to be completely removed, but it can be lifted enough to reach the valve head with a wrench, which must also be turned counterclockwise to unscrew from the valve body. When doing this, the body of the valve must be secured so that it does not rotate in the device itself.
Sliding spindle valves have aesthetic, easy-to-clean handwheels that must be removed to gain access to the valve head nut. The cap handwheel may be hard to remove from the spindle, but it is usually secured by a small screw.
The screw may be located either somewhere on the side around the circumference of the handwheel or, more often, under the cold-hot water indicator plug on top of the handwheel.
A small screwdriver is usually used to get the valve head underneath/on this plug when removing it. With the plug removed, you can see the screw that secures the top of the valve; you can unscrew it and remove the handwheel cap from the valve.
You can now use a wrench, as described above, to unscrew the head from the body.
Sliding spindle valves have aesthetic, easy-to-clean handwheel caps that must be removed to gain access to the valve head nut.
A small screwdriver is usually used to pry this cap off when removing it. With the plug removed, you can see the screw that secures the top of the valve; you can unscrew it and remove the cap handwheel from the valve. You can now use a wrench as described above to unscrew the head from the body.
Once you remove the head from the body, you will see the gasket at the base of the spool. Look inside the valve body to check the condition of the seat to see if there is anything obstructing normal operation. Once you find the gasket, you can simply remove it and replace it with a new one.
The gasket can be put on a small center pin or held in place by a small nut or screw (or it can just be tightly inserted into the “bowl” of the spool from below). If the nut is too hard to unscrew, moisten it with oil like WD-40 to make it easier.
If you just cut it off, you’ll have to replace the entire spool. Bathtub faucets use 19mm gaskets, all other faucets use 12mm gaskets.
After installing the gasket, reassemble the faucet in the reverse order described above and check its effectiveness in shutting off water.
So, to recap briefly:
- Turn off the water and make sure it’s not leaking.
- Remove the chrome cap from the faucet.
- Use a wrench to unscrew the valve head from the body of the faucet.
- Remove the old gasket and install a new one.
- Reassemble the faucet and try it out.
The valve is still dripping!
If you have replaced the faucet gasket and it turns out that the faucet keeps dripping, that indicates a much more serious problem. At first, of course, you can try another gasket, ideally a softer one. However, it may be that the seat of the valve is damaged. Especially in places with very high pressure.
The solution may be as follows:
- Install a nylon repair seat (sold with the appropriate gasket). It is lowered on top of the old seat and pressed against it when the valve is closed.
- Align or grind the working surface of the original brass seat to which the gasket is pressed. To do this, you will need a lapping tool (a tool for lapping the valve seat) that can be purchased from a specialty retailer.
Using a lapping tool
After turning off the water and removing the valve head as above, screw the lapping tool into the body of the valve. Adjust the tool and screw in further so that the cutter head reaches the seat.
Rotate the cutter knob several times to cut a thin layer off the surface of the brass seat. Now remove the lapper and inspect the seat; if it looks normal, reassemble the valve with a new gasket.
Self-closing valve gasket replacement
Although these valves are no longer made, a huge number of them still exist. They were designed so that you can, without turning off the water, change the gasket in the following order:
- First, while holding the head of the faucet securely, unscrew the fastening nut by turning it clockwise with a wrench. The head will not fall out, but if you turn the faucet as if unscrewing it, it will fall out in your hand. At this time, the self-closing gate should come down, completely or substantially shutting off the flow of water while the gasket is being replaced.
- When you hold the body of the faucet in your hands, at first it seems that there is no access to the gasket, but if you press the tip of the spout on some wood, the gasket and anti-splash device will appear outside.
- Now disconnect the gasket from the anti-splash device by separating them with a screwdriver. It should be noted that the gasket of such a faucet is embedded in the spool, and therefore it is necessary to replace the entire set.
- After placing a new gasket, assemble the faucet in reverse order.
Faucets with ceramic discs
Dripping faucets with ceramic discs often require replacing the discs themselves. It’s always a good idea to first see if dirt or small particles are preventing the faucet from fully closing, but if the disc is cracked or damaged, it should be replaced.
When ordering parts, you should give exact details about the manufacturer and type of product. Discs are sold as a cartridge (head), the hot water cartridge closes in the opposite direction compared to the cold water cartridge, so be careful when selecting the correct type.
To get to the ceramic disc, follow the disassembly procedure described above to replace the gasket – you will see the disc in place of the gasket, not the gasket. Replace the rubber gasket from the kit at the same time as replacing the disc.
Water leaking from the faucet body
If you have opened the faucet and water is leaking from somewhere around the spindle, it is probably the result of a leak in the spindle gland. Water will only leak when the faucet is open. To solve this problem, you must first decide on the design of the valve: Extendable or non-extendable spindle.
Leakage of a valve with a retractable spindle
With this design of the valve there is no need to shut off the water; you just need to close the valve completely before working with it. The procedure won’t be difficult after removing the decorative cover, but there may be difficulties here because the handwheel may not have been removed from the very first installation of the valve.
Here are some suggestions for solving this problem:
- First, look for the small screw securing the flywheel. Examine the base of the flywheel or look under the small plastic red (hot water) or blue (cold water) indicator cap on top of the flywheel. Sometimes there is no screw at all.
- Holding the faucet securely, try removing the handwheel; if it sits very tight, a few light taps with a wooden mallet from the bottom up may move it.
One trick is to fully open the faucet with the decorative guard released and fully raised, and prop the guard up with wooden bars resting on the faucet body.
If you then close the valve, this process, if successful, will pull the handwheel off the spindle. Alternatively, using penetrating oil like WD-40 may help. Sometimes the force must be very great and it may even be necessary to remove the valve altogether to avoid damaging the assembly.
By removing the flywheel and casing, you will be able to see the packing nut. Then you will notice that when the faucet is open, water flows from this very spot and stops flowing when the faucet is closed.
It may be enough to tighten the nut slightly. However, if this is not enough, then:
- Close the faucet.
- Unscrew this jam nut and remove it from the spindle.
- Wrap a few coils of PTFE tape or some kind of oiled/tarred/waxed cord around the spindle and use a small screwdriver to push this winding into the hole where the jam nut is screwed in.
- Put the jam nut back in place, tightening it so that it compresses the new packing material inside the gland.
- Open the faucet again and tighten the nut as necessary until water no longer leaks along the spindle.
- Reinstall the decorative guard and handwheel.
Water leaking from a valve with a non-retractable spindle
In this valve design the gland is replaced with a rubber o-ring gasket. When you remove the handwheel, you will see water leaking along the spindle when the faucet is open.
To correct this problem:
- First, shut off the water supply to this faucet.
- Remove the decorative cap and unscrew the valve head from the body of the faucet as described earlier.
- Now remove the spring ring from the top of the tap. To do this, insert a screwdriver between the cut edges and turn it slightly to loosen the ring and remove it from the spindle. Unfortunately, this ring sometimes breaks, in which case it will have to be replaced.
- Holding the valve head in your hands, push down on the top of the spindle, unscrewing it and pulling it out of the brass housing to reveal the o-ring.
- The old rubber ring can now be removed; this is usually done with a small screwdriver.
- Replace the rubber ring with the new one by applying a little silicone grease.
Now reassemble the faucet and test it. If this repair doesn’t solve the problem, it may lie in a lot of wear on the spindle – then you’ll have to replace the faucet itself.
Water is leaking from the swivel spout
This is the result of a worn rubber O-ring at the base of the swivel spout. It is not necessary to turn off the water; simply close the cold and hot taps.
The first thing to do is to unscrew the small fixing screw or the lock nut in the base of the spout (note that some designs have no such fixing element).
Then you need to turn the spout to one side in line with the handwheels and pull it off the faucet/faucet to access the large rubber ring. It can now be removed and replaced with a new one, adding a little silicone grease. If there is a lot of wear on the parts, the faucet will have to be replaced.