Drip, Drip, Drip: How to Identify and Fix Common Faucet Leaks

gray stainless steel faucet

Hearing the sound of a dripping faucet can be one of the most annoying and costly household problems. If you’ve been dealing with a leaky faucet, help is here! In this blog post, we’ll explain how to identify and fix common faucet leaks so you can get your peace and quiet back.

Introduction: What Causes a Leaky Faucet?

Leaky faucets are a common problem, but luckily they are usually easy to identify and repair. Common causes of a leaky faucet include worn out washers, corroded valve seats, defective gaskets, o-rings, or seals, and mineral deposits on the internal parts. In some cases, the springs may deteriorate and weaken, causing a leak. Additionally, mineral buildup on the spout or if the rotating ball becomes damaged can also cause leaks. To begin addressing a leaky faucet issue, it is important to first turn off the water supply and then identify which part of the faucet has failed. Once you have identified the part that needs to be replaced, you can then find an identical replacement and use Teflon tape to seal any connections in order to prevent future leaks. Finally, make sure to check for any leaks before re-activating the water supply.

Step 1: Shut Off the Water Supply

Before you start any repairs, the first step to fixing a dripping faucet is to shut off the water supply. You should be able to turn off the supply at a nearby shutoff valve. With the water off, you can then look for the fixture shutoff valves below the sink and turn the handles clockwise. If your faucet doesn’t have any shutoff valves, then you may need to turn off the main water supply in your home. Once the water is shut off, you can begin your investigation and repairs. Covering the drain with a rag will help protect any dropped parts from going down the drain. Now that you have taken these steps, you can start looking for leaks in more obvious places like at the spout and less obvious places like around the base of the faucet handle.

Step 2: Identify Which Faucet Component Has Failed

Once you’ve shut off the water supply, the next step is to identify which faucet component has failed. Faucet leaks can appear in more places than just at the spout, so it’s important to look for less obvious signs that may be wasting water. Start by removing the faucet handle, packing nut, and stem to get better access to the parts that are causing the leak. If the faucet has started to leak close to the base, it may be that the packing nut or adjusting ring is loose. If you have a rotary ball faucet, look for water at this connection; if so, a part may be required to resolve the issue. Your local hardware store should have O-rings, seat washers, and other parts you may need for repairs. Make sure to purchase an identical replacement part for your faucet before you begin any repairs.

Step 3: Find an Identical Replacement

Once you have identified the source of the leak and determined which parts need to be replaced, the next step is to find an identical replacement. You can do this by checking the manufacturer’s website or any local hardware stores. When you find the right replacement part, make sure to double check it against your original part to make sure that it’s an exact match before purchasing. If you can’t find the right replacement part, contact a licensed plumber for assistance. By following these steps, you can ensure that your faucet is properly repaired and that there are no more costly drips or dribbles in your home.

Step 4: Replace the Worn Out Washers

Once you have identified which component needs replacing, the next step is to replace the worn-out washers. This is often the cause of leaking faucets and can be easily repaired. Washers are usually made of rubber and can become worn out over time due to friction between the valve seat and the washer. If this is the case for your faucet, you will need to find a replacement washer that is identical to the one you are replacing. You can typically find this at your local hardware store. Make sure to use a paper towel or small container to test out any suspected spout leakage before replacing the washer. Once you have replaced it, be sure to dry up any water from the sink before re-installing the faucet handles.

Step 5: Replace the Seats and Springs

Once you have identified which component of the faucet has failed, it’s time to replace the worn out washers. To do this, use a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove the handle and access the valve seats. Inspect the valve seats for wear and tear and replace both the seats and springs if necessary. Make sure to align the cartridge with the stem before installing it into its place. If you’re still experiencing leaking after replacing the springs and seats, it may be necessary to replace the entire faucet cartridge. After replacing all parts, use Teflon tape to seal any connections and re-install your faucet handle before turning on the water supply to make sure there are no leaks.

Step 6: Use Teflon Tape to Seal Connections

Once you have replaced the worn out washers and seats and springs, it is important to use Teflon tape to seal the connections. Teflon tape, also known as plumber’s tape, is an easy-to-use product for many types of pipe connections. It is important to apply it properly in order to create a secure and water-tight connection. To do this, cover the threads beneath the packing nut with the Teflon tape and gently tighten it. This will ensure that your faucet is secure and that there are no further leaks.

Step 7: Re-install the Faucet Handles

Once you have replaced the washers, seats, and springs, it’s time to start re-installing the faucet handles. To do this, begin by reversing the steps taken when removing the handle hardware. Start by placing the handle back into place and securing it with the screws. Make sure to tighten these screws evenly so that they are secure. Once the handle is in place, reinstall the decorative hardware. After that, it’s time to turn your water back on and check for leaks. If there are no leaks, you should be good to go and your faucet should be as good as new!

Step 8: Check for Leaks

Once all the components have been replaced and re-installed, it’s time to check for leaks. Start by turning on the cold water supply at the wall and letting it run for a few minutes. Check around the handle and base of the faucet for any signs of water leaking. If any water is seen coming from the faucet, tighten the adjusting ring or replace any worn-out washers. Finally, deactivate the cold water supply at the wall by turning it counterclockwise. With these steps, you can confidently tackle a leaky faucet and keep your sink free from annoying drips.

Step 9: Deactivate the Water Supply

Once all the components of the faucet have been replaced and checked for any leaks, the last step is to deactivate the water supply. This is an important step, as it helps prevent any further damage from occurring. To deactivate the water supply, you will need to locate and turn off the main water valve in your home. Once this is done, test the faucet one more time to ensure there are no further leaks. You can then turn on the water supply and enjoy your newly repaired faucet!

For 50 DIY plumbing tips check our other post.


Leaky faucets can be a nuisance and can lead to costly repairs if not addressed properly. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can diagnose, repair, and prevent common faucet leaks. Start by shutting off the water supply and then identify which faucet component has failed. Find an identical replacement, replace the washers, seats, and springs as needed, use Teflon tape to seal connections, re-install the faucet handles and check for leaks. Finally, deactivate the water supply when finished. With a little bit of research and patience, you can troubleshoot and solve your leaky faucet issues on your own.