A leaky faucet (tap) in your home can cost you money in water bills; a leaky outdoor faucet can not only cost you money, it can cause damage to your garden and grass in addition to your home itself. Fortunately, leaky faucets of any kind are usually caused by a worn-out washer. Replacing a worn-out washer is a simple process that takes very little time and only a few common tools.
Locate the main water valve.
Turn off the water to your house.
Locate the nut that sits just behind the faucet knob.
Remove the nut using an adjustable wrench.
Pull the faucet handle straight out to remove the valve stem; it should be approximately 12 inches (30.5 cm) long.
Remove the screw at the end of the long valve stem using a flat-head screwdriver.
Pry the old washer out carefully using a small screwdriver.
Find a new washer of the same size and shape.
Clean the seat where the washer will go with a small soft brush or toothpick.
Insert the new washer, ensuring a snug fit.
Replace the screw on the end of the valve stem.
Grease the threads on the valve stem with some silicone to make the faucet turn on and off easier.
Replace the valve stem into the faucet pipe.
Wrap the faucet threads with plumber’s tape to ensure a snug fit.
Reattach the faucet knob.
Tighten the packing nut.
Turn on the main water valve.
Turn on the outside spigot.
Let the water run for several minutes to clean out any debris that may have gotten inside the valve stem and spigot while working on them.
Shut off the spigot.
Inspect the spigot to ensure that there are no leaks.
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How can I remove the faucet if it will not come out?
Cut the faucet off the pipe and install a new faucet. You can solder on a new faucet or thread fitting. Alternatively, you can screw on a compression fitted valve to a plain pipe.
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It is a good idea to always have a range of washer sizes and shapes on hand for various jobs. Each of the faucets in your home may use a different size and shape of washer and your outdoor hoses use them as well. Some washers are flat; some are “cone shaped.” You will need to test their fits when replacing a washer to determine which fits the snuggest with the least amount of force.
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Use care and patience when reinstalling the valve stem. There are threads on both the valve stem and the inside pipe to which it attaches. These can be easily stripped or damaged if the parts are forced together in any way or are not seated correctly. You may need to adjust both the valve stem and packing nut at the same time to get the correct fit.
Things You’ll Need
- Outdoor spigot
- 12-inch (30.5 cm) adjustable wrench
- Flat-head screwdriver
- Small screwdriver, flat head or other
- Washers of various sizes and shapes
- Plumber’s tape
- Silicone grease
- Paper towels
- Container or shallow dish for loose parts
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