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FAQs about Fixing Faucets

by Staff Writer

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Modern designed brushed nickel faucet

Plumbing fixtures are built to last, but even the most durable kitchen and bath faucets wear out and lose their shine. If you're not ready to replace a leak or broken faucet just yet, there are some things you can do to restore them to their former glory. Answers to these frequently asked questions about faucet repair may help you extend the life of your faucets.

Faucet Repair Questions:

  1. What causes a faucet to leak?
    Usually, it's a corroded O-ring, gasket or valve seat that causes a faucet to leak. Kitchen or bathroom faucet valves hold water back until they're opened, but if the seal created by the valve is corroded, you get a dripping, leaky faucet. Luckily, you can replace many of these parts to restore the seal and get the valve working properly again. Faucet design has improved each type to the point that leaky valves are rare and replacing them isn't difficult. Older faucet designs can be a bit more complex.

  2. How do I repair a leaky faucet valve?
    There are four types of faucet valves: compression, sleeve-cartridge, ball and ceramic disk. With a ceramic disk or cartridge faucet, you just need to replace the cartridge or disk. Leaky ball valves are probably corroded and may need to be entirely replaced. A compression valve probably just needs a new O-ring.

  3. Should I fix it or buy a new one?
    If you can repair any leaky valves and restore the shine on the faucet finish, faucet repair is a great way to make your bath or kitchen faucet look new without spending money on a new one. On the other hand, if your plumbing fixtures are severely corroded or you have a shower faucet that's too old to find replacement parts, it may be easier and cheaper to buy a new faucet.

  4. What tools do I need to repair or install a faucet?
    It's good to have an adjustable wrench, some plumber's tape and plumber's putty on hand. You'll need an old towel to prevent chips or scratches to the sink, as well as to keep small pieces from falling down the drain. For awkward nuts and bolts behind the sink, it can help to have a basin wrench. If you have to cut old supply lines, a small hack-saw can help.

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