Common Causes of Leaky Faucets

Leaky faucet dripping water

The steady dripping of a leaky faucet is one of the most common household problems. It happens so commonly that we may not even notice when one of ours is leaking water after we shut it off. As long as it's not spraying water everywhere when you turn the faucet on, it may not seem like an urgent fix. But consider this: a faucet that drips once every second can waste roughly five gallons of water per day. Do the math on that one and the amount of wasted water starts to add up quickly! In this article we'll take a look at the different types of faucets and the common causes of leaky faucets in your home.

What type of faucet do I have?

There are three major types of faucet construction: rotary ball, cartridge, and ceramic disc. These all refer to how the faucet is designed internally and how it controls temperature and water flow. Because each is built differently, they're also prone to different problems. Knowing what type of faucet you have can help you diagnose what kind of repair you may need.

Faucet with running water

Rotary Ball Faucets

Rotary ball faucets have a hollow ball that rotates in a socket to control water flow and temperature. The ball may be plastic or stainless steel. With its simple ball and O-ring construction, these are typically some of the easiest faucets to repair. The main culprit in rotary ball faucet leaks are faulty parts or worn out O-rings.

Cartridge Faucets

Cartridge faucets are extremely common - if you have a faucet that has one handle that can be lifted up or down, then you probably have a cartridge faucet. The design is a little more complicated internally, with a cartridge containing O-rings at each end that control the flow and temperature of the water. These O-rings can be the source of leaks from the base of a cartridge faucet.

Ceramic Disc Faucets

This is basically another type of cartridge faucet. Rather than o-rings, these faucets use ceramic discs. Ceramic disc faucets rarely need repairing, thanks to the durability of the discs compared to a rubber O-ring that can wear out easier.

3 Common Causes of Leaky Faucets

Plumber repairing faucet

1. Loose Parts

Faucets have many small parts that work in conjunction to deliver water flow. After years of usage, some of these parts might simply be worn out. If your faucet is leaking near its base, it could be that your adjusting ring or packing nut is loose. On a rotary ball faucet, simply remove the handle and tighten the adjusting ring. If you still have a leak from the base, it may be time to replace the springs or seals.

Assorted O-rings

2. Worn Out O-rings

In cartridge faucets, an O-ring is a rubber gasket used to seal gaps between the cartridge and other internal parts. O-rings will eventually wear down and need replaced, causing leaks at the base or issues with hot/cold water mixing. You'll want to remove the cartridge and determine if it's just the O-rings or if the entire cartridge needs replaced. Your local Do it Best store is a great place to go for expert advice and replacement parts when determining what you need.

Plumber fixing faucet spout

3. Washer Issues

This is the usual suspect when it comes to water dripping from the spout of your faucet. When you turn on the water, a washer is pressed against the valve seat. Over time, the repetitive motion and resistance causes the washer to wear out, leading to a slow drip from your faucet spout. In some faucets, rubber seals can wear out and cause leaking as well. 

O-Rings, Gaskets & Washers (View All)

Faucet Parts (View All)

Repairing a leaky faucet may seem daunting, but the friendly staff at your local, independently owned Do it Best store can help you determine what's wrong with your faucet and make sure you have the parts you need to repair it.

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