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How To Plumbing Series for Decatur and Hartselle, AL Homeowners: Faucets and Sinks

The pipes in your home are the real workhorses of your plumbing infrastructure, carrying water and waste to and fro each and every day. But pipes are behind-the-scene and you rarely, if ever, interface with them.

Faucets, on the other hand, you interface with each day — at the bathroom sink, in the shower or tub, in the kitchen at breakfast and at dinner. This How To Plumbing post takes a look at the real workhorse of your home’s plumbing system — the faucet.

Overview of How to Repair a Faucet

There are four major types of faucets:

Faucets in your kitchen, bathroom, tub, and shower are basically the same and are based on these four major designs.

Typically, problems with faucets involve:

  • leaks from the handles or spouts
  • loose knobs
  • low water pressure
  • irregular spray patterns
  • or a problem with a drain stopper

Any of these are relatively easy to fix and do not require you to call a Decatur and Hartselle, AL plumber. Although if you want to install a new faucet, you may prefer having a repair technician do it for you, although it is easy enough to do yourself.

About Each Faucet

Compression faucets

These are the most common design. They have two handles (unless it is a hot only or cold only faucet, like a hose bib outside). Each handle turns like a screw and it moves either up or down as it turns. The handle’s stem goes into the faucet and on the end of it is a washer. That washer seals out the water until the valve is opened. When the washer fails or the valve seat becomes rough, water leaks from the spout.

Disk, cartridge and ball faucets

These most often are mixing faucets with one handle, although disk and cartridge designs can have two handles. Holes or channels in the disk, cartridge or ball align with the water supply and faucet to allow water to flow. Their alignment also determines the proportion of hot and cold water. These faucet types typically last longer than compression faucets. However, in some cases, they may be unrepairable when a problem does occur.

Faucet Troubleshooting Guide

Most faucet repairs can be made with just pliers and a screwdriver. There are some specialized tools for faucets available at home improvement centers, plumbing supplies, and hardware stores, and these are fairly inexpensive to purchase — although you may not use them often.

As with our other Troubleshooting Guides, we list a symptom, followed by what to check.

Faucet leaks from the handle

Compression style faucet

The faucet drips from the spout

Compression style faucet

  • Replace the seat washer
  • Redress or replace the valve seat

All other faucets

The water pressure is too low

  • Make sure the water supply valves under the sink are turned on all the way
  • Clean or replace the aerator
  • Check plumbing system for water pressure problems. You may need to call a Decatur and Hartselle, AL plumber for help with this, especially if it persists.

The spout sprays water all over

  • Clean or replace the aerator
  • Replace the aerator washer

Water is leaking from the faucet under the sink

  • Check the water supply connections to the faucet
  • Inspect the water supply lines or hoses for leaks
  • If there is a leaky hose, replace. See if you can find where the leaks originate. You do not want to let a faucet leak, even if it’s a tiny one, because over time it will become a big problem. Fix it yourself as soon as you discover or call a Decatur and Hartselle, AL plumber for assistance.

The drain stopper won’t open or won’t close

  • Check that the lift rod is connected to the pop-up lever rod.
  • Check that the pop-up lever rod is engaged with the drain pop-up.

Faucet is noisy when I turn it on

  • The valve may require new washer
  • The water pressure from the supply line may be too high or too low

Faucet is noisy when I turn it off

  • It may be water hammer, which can be dealt with by installing an air chamber
  • If you have air chambers, then turn off the water supply, drain the system then turn on the water again

Handle is loose

  • Remove the cap and tighten the screw
  • Locate and tighten the hex set screw
  • Remove the handle and check for stripped teeth on the stem
  • Replacement handles are available at home improvement centers and plumbing supply stores or through the manufacturer, depending on brand and model

Next Up

You can’t troubleshoot or replace faucets without dealing with sinks. One is attached to the other. The next post looks at installing faucets and one kind of sink.