Leaking Washerless Faucets

washerless faucet

A washerless faucet usually has a single lever or knob that controls the flow and mix of hot and cold water by aligning interior openings with the water inlets. Washerless faucets generally work for years without fail, but when one needs repair you must replace some or all of the mixture and flow parts. How you’ll do this depends on the type of faucet—disc, valve, ball, or cartridge .

When taking a washerless faucet apart, look for screws and nuts in odd places, such as under handles or at the base of the spout. Once you can see inside the faucet, you can determine what kind of control the unit has.

washerless faucets

This type of washer-less faucet relies on two discs that connect with the handle to mix hot and cold water. The disc assembly seldom wears out. More often, a rubber inlet seal proves to be the Achilles’ heel.

CAUTION: Before doing any work, turn off the water at the fixture shutoff valves or the main shutoff valve . Open the faucet to drain the pipes.

Disc faucets

washerless repair

To repair a leak at the base of a disc faucet, remove the setscrew under the faucet handle and lift off the handle and decorative escutcheon. Then remove the cartridge by loosening the two screws that hold the cartridge to the faucet body.

Under the cartridge, you’ll find a set of inlet seals . Take each one out and replace any worn ones with exact duplicates. Also check for sediment buildup around the inlet holes; scrape away any deposits to clear the restriction. When reassembling the faucet, be sure to align the inlet holes of the cartridge with those in the base of the faucet.

Valve faucets

valve faucet

This type of faucet is so called because it has a pair of valve stem assemblies (one for hot water, one for cold) through which water flows up and out the spout. Moving the handle forward and backward controls the flow; moving it from side to side controls mix. All the parts are replaceable; though these faucets are no longer made, you can buy a kit that has all parts (except strainers and plugs) at a plumbing supply store, or you can buy the parts separately.

CAUTION: Before doing any work, turn off the water at the fixture shutoff valves or the main shutoff valve. Open the faucet to drain the pipes.

valve faucet
valve faucet repair
valve repair

Using an adjustable-end wrench wrapped with electrician’s tape, turn the spout ring counterclockwise.

If your only problem is a leak at the base of the spout, replace the 0-ring with an identical one and reassemble the faucet.
If the spout drips, you’ll need to replace one of the valve parts or the valve seat . Remove the spout and escutcheon. Unscrew the hexagonal strainer plugs on either side of the faucet and take out the valve parts—a gasket, strainer, spring, and valve stem—by hand. Use a valve seat wrench to remove the valve seat. Replace any worn or corroded part. Lubricate the threads of the valve seat with petroleum jelly and reassemble the faucet.

If flow from a valve-type faucet is sluggish, it’s likely that the strainers are clogged with sediment from hard water. Clean the parts with an old toothbrush and soapy water; rinse each thoroughly and reinstall.

If the handle of a valve faucet has loosened, first tighten the screw that holds the handle to the cam assembly . If the handle still wobbles after you tighten the handle screw, remove the screw. Chances are that the unthreaded portion of the screw beneath the screw-head is worn flat. Solution: Replace the screw.
If none of these remedies works, tighten the adjusting screw atop the cam assembly about one quarter turn.

Ball faucets

ball faucet

Inside every ball faucet is a slotted metal ball atop two spring-loaded rubber inlet seals. Water flows when the openings in the rotating ball align with hot and cold water inlets in the faucet body.

If the handle of a ball faucet leaks, the seal above the ball needs replacing. If the spout of a ball faucet drips, the inlet seal or spring may be worn and need replacement. If the leak is under the spout, you must replace the 0-rings or the ball itself.

CAUTION: Before doing any work, turn off the water at the fixture shutoff valves or the main shutoff valve . Open the faucet to drain the pipes.


ball faucet repair  

ball faucet

ball faucet repair

Remove the faucet handle by loosening the setscrew with an Allen wrench. Use tape-wrapped rib-joint pliers to unscrew the cap.

Lift out the ball-and-cam assembly. Underneath are two inlet seals on springs. Remove the spout sleeve to expose the faucet body.

To replace the seals and springs , use needle-nose pliers to lift out the old parts. With a stiff brush or penknife, remove any buildup in the inlet holes. If new 0-rings are needed, apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly to them to stop leaks at the base of the faucet.
Before reassembling the faucet, check the ball; if it’s corroded, replace it. To reinstall the ball-and-cam assembly , carefully line up the slot in the ball with the metal alignment pin in the faucet body. Also be sure to fit the lug on the cam into the notch in the faucet body.

Cartridge faucets

cartridge faucet

These washerless faucets have a series of holes in the stem-and-cartridge assembly that align to control the mixture and flow of water. Usually problems with this type of faucet occur because the 0-rings or the cartridge itself must be replaced.

The cartridge is held in place by a retainer clip, which may be on the inside or on the outside of the faucet. Once you remove the retainer clip, the stem-and-cartridge assembly simply lifts out.

CAUTION: Before doing any work, turn off the water at the fixture shutoff valves or the main shutoff valve. Open the faucet to drain the pipes.

cartridge repair

Take the faucet apart by removing the handle screw and the cap atop the faucet. Moving the spout sleeve back and forth, gently pull it off the faucet body. Then lift off the retainer ring.

Next, remove the cartridge. You’ll find the retainer clip just under the rim of the faucet body. Using a screwdriver or needle- nose pliers, remove the clip from its slot. Grip the stem of e.cartride with pliers and lift it out. Examine the 0-rings on the cartridge and replace them if they show signs of wear. On swivel-spout models, apply petroleum jelly to the new 0-rings before installing.

If the 0-rings are in good shape, it’s the cartridge assembly that has seen its day. Take the old one to the plumbing supply store and buy an exact duplicate.

Installing a cartridge is a simple task, but remember to read the manufacturer’s instructions first. Cartridges vary; the most common type has a flat side that must face front—otherwise your hot and cold water supply will be reversed. Also, be sure to fit the retainer clip snugly into its slot.

cartridge repair

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