You may not even notice it, but a leaky faucet can cost you a lot of money. There are different reasons for the leaks in your faucet and just as many ways to fix it.

You need to take control before that leak gets worse. It doesn’t matter if it’s a kitchen faucet leak or a bathroom faucet. Those small drops can make a big difference in your water bill. A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That’s the same amount of water that is used during more than 180 showers. And that can add up to hundreds of dollars wasted in the lost water.

You should fix any leak as soon as you discover it. And find a professional who specializes in leak repair for faucets if you are not comfortable working on your plumbing by yourself.

Common Problems Causing Leaks

Here are some of the most common reasons your faucet is leaking.

  • Worn faucet O-ring: One of the main causes of leaky faucets is a bad O-ring. The O-ring, a little disc connected to the stem screw that tightens to keep a faucet handle in place, can wear out over time. The O-ring is part of a cartridge, or a valve that controls the flow of water into the faucet spout. The O-ring must be replaced regularly as it gets loose and wears out. That’s where the leaks come from, the area around the O-ring that is not secure anymore. When you discover a leak, look for the O-ring and replace it with the same kind.
  • Eroded valve seat: Another component in a faucet that can cause leaks as they age is the valve seat, which connects the faucet and the spout. Water leaks that appear to drip from the spout are likely coming from a worn valve seat. Over time, sediment can build up around the valve seat and corrode it, causing leaks in the faucet. Make sure to replace the valve seat after cleaning all the sediment from the faucet.
  • Old washers or seals: A common cause of leaky faucets are old washers and seals. These are also the easiest to fix on your own. The washer sits against the valve seat in the faucet. You can check it for wear and replace it as necessary. Sediment build up is another cause of washer or seal breakdown.
  • Loose or broken parts: Components in your faucet, like the adjusting ring and packing nuts in the stream screw, can become loose over time. This causes leaks. Tighten or replace the packing nut. Leaks from pipes underneath the sink suggest a broken pipe or fitting. Those leaks are best handled by a plumber.

Different Faucet Types

If you want to fix your faucet, you should know more about it. Each is assembled in a unique way and has its own common leaks. Here are the four most common types of faucets.

  • Cartridge faucet: This faucet is usually found in bathrooms. The handles are on either side of the spout and move up and down to control water. A cartridge moves up and down to control the water flow.
  • Disc faucet: These are more modern faucets that operate with a single lever on a cylindrical body. The lever controls the water.
  • Ball faucet: This faucet is usually found in kitchens. A ball joint in the faucet switches between cold and hot water. The faucet has a single handle on a rounded cap that is mounted on top of the spout. Moving the handle left and right controls temperature, while pushing the handle up and down controls water flow.
  • Compression washer faucet: This faucet is found in older buildings. Two handles on the faucet move side to side. Rubber washers seal against the flow of water as the handle is tighten to stop water.

Some repair jobs are easy, particularly if you identify your faucet type and its components. If you are not used to working with faucets, repairing leaks or can’t identify your faucet type, make sure to contact an experienced plumber for assistance.

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