Introduction

leaky faucet
Photo: Craig Raine
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For too long now, a stubborn drip-drip-drip has been descending from the one-handled kitchen faucet in the home of Richard Trethewey, This Old House's plumbing and heating consultant. "Most people will ignore a dripping faucet out of fear or ignorance," says Richard. If they deal with it at all, it's usually by cranking the handle so hard they risk tearing a rubber washer or cracking something and making the leak worse. At his own Second Empire house, it's more the case of the cobbler’s child whose feet go unshod.

When Richard does finally find a free morning to break out the wrenches, he stems the tide within 15 minutes. A homeowner with a little wherewithal should be able to finish similarly simple repairs in half an hour. "Fixing a faucet drip won't solve the world's water woes," says Richard. "But it will save the finish on your enamel sink and end your Chinese water torture."
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    Tools List

    • pocket knife
      Pocket knife, used to pry off the plastic cap)
    • Phillips screwdriver
      Screwdriver, for removing the screw that holds the handle in place)
    • adjustable pliers
      Slip-joint pliers, to unscrew the bonnet and grip the stem)
    • needlenose pliers
      Needlenosed pliers, for grabbing the retainer clip)

    Shopping List

    1. Faucet Replacement Cartridge (Bring the old one to the store with you to match it.)

    2. Valve O-Rings, if necessary

    3. Plumber's grease, if replacing the O-rings