Naperville Plumbing

Plumbing in Naperville IL

Leaky faucets

Leaking faucets can waste as much as 3 gallons of water a day and can also, if not attended to, harm your fixtures.

There are many, many faucets available; they come in a variety of shapes and colors. The good news is that, fundamentally, they all work in the same manner. There are two basic faucets.

“Mixing faucets” have a single handle or arm that controls both the hot and cold water together. ‘Stem Faucets” have two handles or arms, one each for hot and cold water. In the case of a water leak it could be that both valves may have to be replaced. We will talk about how to fix “Stem faucets”.



There is a packing nut that will sometimes work itself loose. It is located under the stem valve. The tip off here is if you see water leaking around this nut then it simply worked itself loose over time and all you need do is tighten it again with an adjustable wrench. If you do have a leak in this area, and you cannot see the nut, then it is hidden inside the handle. Simply pull off the handle and you will be able to see the nut, and then can tighten it with the adjustable wrench.


Most dripping faucets are caused by worn out washers. In the case of new fixtures the leak could be caused by an improper or wrong sized washer. The typical tip off is the “drip drip” out of a faucet. It can also manifest itself in a pool of water in the handle area o the faucet. The way to determine which faucet is dripping is to turn off the water supply to each of them, one at a time. So then if you turn off the hot water and the leaks stops, then you know it is the hot water valve washer that needs to be replaced.

Here are the steps to replacing washers in your faucet valve.


You will need washers of different sizes. Get someone at your hardware or plumbing store to help you with this.

If you don’t already have one, you should invest in an adjustable wrench.

Depending on the type of screws your faucet has you will need either a Phillips or Standard screwdriver.


You will need to turn off the water supply to the sink you are working on. The water supply line typically runs from wall or floor behind the sink. You will see a valve here that will shut off the water, when you turn it all the way clockwise. Definitely turn off both the cold and hot water before you move on step two.

Now in some situations, you may not have valves behind the sinks and you will then have to turn off the water supply, temporarily, to the whole house. In any case test that the water supply has been shut off by turning on the faucets, no water should come out.


Loosen the packing nuts by turning them counter clockwise. Again they are located under the faucet handle. Now some of the newer faucets have decorative coverings which you will have to remove as well. When you have unscrewed the nut you can then remove the entire valve unit. The valve unit may stick a little as you try and remove it, so wriggle it and be patient.


Now that the valve stem is removed, you should be able to look at the bottom of it and see the old washer. Use your screwdriver to remove the washer.


From your collection of washers, find one the same size as what you just removed and replace it and then put back the screw to hold the washer in place.

Before you put back the valve system, we would have you check to make sure that this is also not worn out. Where you put the washer back you will notice a little hole, this is where the water comes into the valve. Now if you see a groove associated with this hole that means that over time water has created this groove and the valve system will still likely leak, even after replacing the washer. You will need to replace the entire faucet and we recommend you hire a plumber for this.


Assuming the valve stem unit is sound, put it back into the faucet and make sure the handle is in the proper position before you tighten it. You also want the valve in the.


Now tighten the packing nut and turn the water back on. Check for any leaks at this point.

If after this your faucet is still leaking, switch out the washer with another that is a different size or make and see if the leak still persists. If it does then you should call a


People don’t realize that the metal is faucets is very soft, much softer than the metal in pliers or wrenches so a good suggestion is to wrap the business end of your pliers or wrench in duct tape and that way you won’t damage or mar the soft metal on your faucet.

Before you do any faucet repairs, close the drain, it is inevitable that people drop things in sinks they are working on, and you don’t want to take apart the drain trap to retrieve whatever dropped in!

Plumbing can be a mystery to people so a good suggestion is to take a digital picture of all the parts in their relative position, in case you have trouble remembering what goes where.

Remember that washers on the hot water side will wear out faster than the cold water side. Also, if you really twist hard or crank down hard when you turn off the water, you can damage those washers. Be firm but gentle!

Buying a tube of plumbers grease is a good idea. Lubricating everything helps improve the seal.