How to Repair a Leaking Ball Faucet

Kitchen faucet sink with some apples drying
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  • 01 of 03

    Repairing a Ball Faucet

    Ball faucets are found in the kitchen and bath. They look similar to disk faucets but operate with a special ball that controls the flow and mixture of water. Peerless / 2013

    Repairing a leaky faucet is a very common home plumbing repair. However, due to the ​variety of faucet types found in the home, trying to figure out what type of faucet you have can make getting started on this simple task seem a bit daunting. For example, a single handle faucet may be either a ball-type faucet or a disc faucet.

    In this tutorial, we will deal with a special type of washerless faucet called a ball faucet. The ball faucet has a single handle which controls a special plastic or metal ball inside the faucet body. This ball has chambers or slots in it, along with rubber O-rings and spring loaded rubber seals. Depending on the ball's position, the ball/lever assembly controls the flow and mixing temperature of the water coming out of the faucet.

    The ball faucet was brought to market in 1954 by Delta faucet and made popular as a single lever kitchen faucet by Delta Faucet® and its DIY brand Peerless® starting in the 1970s. They also are popular as a bathroom faucet.

    So how can these faucets leak when they have no washers? Well, ball faucets leak as the spring loaded rubber seals dry out, the springs weaken, the rotating ball acquires buildup or the rubber o-ring dries out. 

    Needed Tools and Materials

    • Allen Wrench
    • Pipe Wrench or Channel-Lock Pliers
    • Screwdriver
    • Utility Knife
    • Ball Faucet Repair Kit (specific to faucet model being repaired)
    • Replacement Lever Control Ball (if needed)
    • Heatproof Plumber's Grease
    Continue to 2 of 3 below.
  • 02 of 03

    Parts Needed to Repair a Ball Faucet

    Repair kit contents may vary but usually include O-ring, cam, cam washer, rubber valve seats and springs and a spanner wrench for tightening the locking ring. Ace Hardware

    A ball faucet may leak due to a number of worn parts. The faucet may leak from the base which is usually caused by a worn O-ring at the bottom of the faucet body. If the faucet is leaking from the spout or aerator, then water is not being properly controlled by the lever ball or the spring loaded rubber seals. The rubber seals may be worn or the control ball may be damaged.

    Disassembly of the faucet (very simple) and visual inspection of the parts will be required to determine the cause of the leak.

    Faucet repair kits are widely available for many different ball faucets and include everything you will need for your repair. The kits are specific to certain models so make sure you buy one that is for your make and model. They may or may not include the control ball assembly. The ball may come in a plastic or brass version with the brass ball version being a bit more expensive but last longer.

    The repair kits usually include O-ring, cam, cam washer, rubber seats, and springs, and a cool little tool that may have an allen wrench on one end and the other end will have a special spanner wrench for tightening the faucet locking ring.

    Continue to 3 of 3 below.
  • 03 of 03

    Repairing a Ball Faucet

    Removing the cam and cam washer. Danco 2013
    • Purchase the proper repair kit for your faucet model and make.
    • Turn off the water supply to the faucet. You will most likely find the shut-off valve under the sink. In the rare case, you cannot find the shut-off valve, you will have to temporarily shut off the main valve.
    • Using the allen wrench that comes in the repair kit (or another of proper size), loosen the handle by turning the set screw counter-clockwise. Remove the single lever handle. This will expose the faucet top cap.
    • If the faucet is leaking from the base of the faucet spout, use the special spanner wrench to tighten the locking collar by turning it clockwise. If the leak stops you don't have to do any more than replace the handle. If the leak continues or if the faucet is leaking from the spout, then continue with the following repair instructions.
    • Using a pipe wrench or pliers such as those made by Channellock®, grip the knurled faucet top cap and turn counter-clockwise to remove. Here is an often used tip. Wrap masking tape around the upper and lower jaw of the plier to prevent marring of the top cap's finish.
    • Once the top cap is removed, the cam will be exposed. It is the plastic piece with the lever poking through it. Remove the cam, cam washer and control lever ball assembly.
    • Once removed, inspect the control ball for wear. If it is scored or damaged, replace the ball as part of the repair. Plastic or brass, your choice.
    • Using the flat blade screwdriver, remove the rubber valve seats and springs and lift them out of their receptacles in the faucet body.
    • Next, remove the faucet spout by lifting it up and twisting it off.
    • Remove the O-ring around the base of the faucet body by carefully getting behind it with a screwdriver and prying / lifting it off, or by carefully cutting it with a utility knife.
    • Take the new O-ring and coat it with the heatproof plumber's grease. Place it over the faucet base and slide it down until it sets into the groove.
    • Reattach the faucet spout by pressing it back on, over the O-ring until it is fully seated at the base of the faucet body.
    • Install the new valve seats and springs by placing the spring into the rubber seal and dropping this assembly into their receptacles. You may have to finesse them into place with the tip of the screwdriver. Another trick is to slide them over the end of a Phillips head screwdriver and then use the screwdriver to position and drop the seals/springs into their receptacles.
    • Next, install the new control ball by locating it properly with its alignment peg with the alignment slot in the concave ball assembly housing, place the cam washer over the ball and lever and then place the cam in place over the cam washer and lever. The cam will probably have an alignment lug that fits into a notch in the faucet body. Press the cam fully into place.
    • Install the knurled faucet top cap by turning clockwise until snug. Reattach the single lever handle by tightening the allen screw.
    • Turn the water supply to the faucet back on.
    • Turn the faucet on and check for leaks.