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6 Common Causes of a Leaky Faucet

leaky faucetFrom the kitchen and bathroom to an outdoor spigot, there are faucets located throughout your home. These plumbing fixtures are an essential source of water for cooking, washing and cleaning, yet some homeowners may take the easy access for granted.

When the faucet consistently drips or has a puddle on the floor surrounding it, your home plumbing bill can start to climb. Based on figures from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), leaks waste about 10,000 gallons per home every year, with aspects like corrosion, mineral deposits or worn O-rings, washers and seals being primary culprits.

Although some homeowners may think they can attempt this repair themselves, professional assistance is often needed to identify the issue and provide an effective, long-term solution. Here are some of the potential causes of your home’s leaky faucet.

1. Loose or Damaged O-Ring

The handle for your faucet stays in place with a part known as the stem screw, which uses a disc-shaped component called an O-ring. With time, the O-ring experiences wear and tear that can result in loosening or damage. When this occurs, you will see dripping or leaking near or beneath the handle. While this issue can happen to all types of faucets, it’s more likely to affect cartridge-based models.

The O-ring may just be one sign. Letting a leak go unrepaired and exposing this part to hard water over time can actually damage the faucet fixture. At this stage, replacing the O-ring won’t do much to stop the leak and instead, you may need a new faucet.

2. Old Cartridge

Damaged or worn inlet or outlet seals of the cartridge could be another problem. While accumulated debris and sediment can be cleaned off to improve performance, the cartridge may be too damaged to be useful. In this case, a replacement of the same size should be added.

3. Corroded Valve Seat

The valve seat connects the faucet to the spout. In this area, mineral deposits and other debris from consistent exposure to water can accumulate over time, leading to corrosion and subsequent leaks.

If you notice a leak coming from the spout, a corroded valve seat may be to blame. Older seals, typically made of brass, can be cleaned and resurfaced. With a more modern fixture, the full unit may need to be replaced, depending on the amount of corrosion.

4. Worn Washers

The washer rests against the valve seat. When the faucet is in use, a degree of friction occurs between these two components, resulting in gradual wear and tear. After the washer experiences too much wear over time, you may spot dripping from the spout. If your home has a compression faucet, this type of leak is more common.

In this case, the washer usually needs to be replaced. However, leaks can still occur if the washer is incorrectly installed or the wrong size.

5. Water Pressure

The faucet itself might not have any wear or corrosion. Rather, the leak indicates an issue with water pressure, especially if you turn the handle at a particular angle. In this instance, the water pressure may be too high, resulting in a backup that leaks from the tap or toilet tank.

6. Loose or Broken Parts

A leak may also be one symptom of a loose ring and packing nut. Tightening can make the leak go away – or you might have to look under the sink for a broken pipe or damaged fitting.
If you’ve attempted to tighten certain parts but a faucet leak persists, it’s time to call the plumbers at MJ Fahy & Sons. If your home is currently experiencing a leak, schedule an appointment today.