Top 5 Faucet Repair Tutorials

Stainless steel sink with mixer tap
adavino / Getty Images

When faucets start to leak it can be very frustrating if you don't know what type of parts to buy to repair the leak.

Faucet valves have come a long way from the days of a simply replacing a rubber washer in a compression faucet to stop a leak. Today's washerless faucets are more reliable and may use a ball valve, cartridge or ceramic disk to control water flow.

Knowing which type of faucet valve you have and then how to repair it is necessary if you want to avoid an expensive plumbing repair. And well, that's why you're here. To do-it-yourself and save some money!

In this article, you will see the top "how-to's" you need for all types of faucet repairs, no matter if you have a Delta, Moen, Price Pfister or any other brand of faucet. It's really pretty easy.

  • 01 of 05

    Let's Determine What Type of Faucet Valve You Have...

    Types of faucet valves

    First things first. And this tutorial is the first thing you need to read in determining what type of faucet valve your faucet uses. You need to determine that so you know what you need to replace or repair your faucet or valve.

    Today's faucets are valved with one of four options:

    1. Ball Valved Faucet (single handle faucet)
    2. Cartridge Valved Faucet (single or double handle faucet)
    3. Ceramic Disk Valved Faucet (single or double handle faucet)
    4. Compression Valved Faucet (single handle faucet)

    Each valve has its own unique design and procedures for repair. The most common single handle option is either a ball valve or a ceramic disk. The most common two handle type is a cartridge valve usually found on inexpensive faucets and ceramic disk valves found on more premium faucets.

  • 02 of 05

    How to Repair a Ball Faucet

    Ball faucet

    The Spruce 

    The ball faucet is the most popular type of single-handle washerless faucet in the market. Originally introduced in 1954 by Delta Faucet®, the ball valve increased in reliability and popularity in the 1970s under Delta Faucet's DIY brand Peerless® Faucet.

    The ball valve uses a single handle that controls a specially designed ball inside the faucet body. This ball may be either plastic or metal and has small chambers or slots in it. It sets in a housing that has rubber O-rings and spring loaded rubber seals.

    Depending on the position of the ball, the ball and lever assembly controls the flow of water and the water's mixing temperature coming out of the faucet.

    These valves can fail as the spring loaded rubber seals or rubber o-rings dry out. The springs can also weaken over time and the rotating ball may acquire scale buildup.

    Usually, these valves can be repaired by installing a ball valve repair kit but in some cases, you may also have to buy a kit that includes a new ball.

  • 03 of 05

    How to Repair a Cartridge Faucet

    Cartridge faucet
    2016 Delta

    The cartridge faucet is versatile and is commonly used in economic applications. The cartridge water valve is a type of washer-less water control valve found in the kitchen or bathroom.

    Similar to disk faucets, cartridge faucets also come in the single lever and two handle versions. The cartridge water valve may come in a plastic or brass body.

    Cartridges for single lever faucets control the volume of water flow by raising and lowering the valve through the faucet handle. Temperature is controlled by mixing hot and cold water with a side-to-side rotation of the handle.

    Cartridges for two handle faucets simply control water flow by turning the faucet handle left or right about 1/4 turn.

  • 04 of 05

    How to Repair a Ceramic Disk Faucet

    Ceramic disk faucet
    Delta Faucet

    The single handle disk faucet is hard to distinguish from a ball valve faucet. They both have large single handles that seem to rotate.

    However, the single handle disk faucet has a spout lever over a wide cylindrical body and moves in an up and down and side to side motion, similar to a cartridge faucet.

    The ball faucet (which has rounded ball-shaped cap right above the base of the faucet) actually moves in a spherical direction.

    The disk water valve is a premium device and uses highly abrasion resistant ceramic disks to control the water flow. The disk faucet mixes hot and cold water inside a mixing chamber that is called a pressure balance cartridge. Two ceramic disks at the bottom of the chamber will raise and lower to control the volume of water flow. Temperature is controlled by a side-to-side rotation of the handle.

    This tutorial describes how to remove and inspect the disk cartridge, clean it, and replace the rubber seals in the cartridge assembly. It's the little rubber water inlet seals at the bottom of the cartridge that seems to fail or get fouled with calcium or other mineral deposits in the water.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    How to Repair a Compression Faucet

    Compression faucet
    2016 Kohler

    The compression faucet uses a rubber washer in compression to control water flow and is the oldest style faucet valve in use today.

    These are the older style valves with brass bodies and a rubber washer bolted to the bottom of the valve body. As the faucet handle valve stem is turned clockwise, it increases compressive pressure on the rubber washer to stop the water flow.

    As it is opened and turned counter-clockwise, the bottom of the valve is retracted into the valve body and water flow is increased through the faucet.

    Once the handle is removed from the valve stem removal is easy. The valve stem assembly will have a hexagon shaped nut that is easily removed with a pipe wrench or slip-joint pliers.

    Repair of a compression faucet valve is generally limited to replacing the rubber washer at the bottom of the valve body.

    In some cases, these valves may leak from the valve stem at the top of the valve body. That type of leak is due to a failure in the stem packing around the valve stem (usually found on old exterior hose bibbs or bathtub faucets) or the rubber o-ring on the valve stem under the packing nut on newer faucets.