Introduction

Gold faucet
Photo: Paul Perreault
»
Droplets from a two-handled laundry-room faucet have been falling with the relentless beat of a metronome 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."
Ask TOH users about Plumbing

Contribute to This Story Below

    Tools List

    • Phillips screwdriver
      Screwdriver, for removing the screw that holds the handle in place)

    • faucet-handle puller
      Faucet-Handle Puller, in case the handle won't budge and you need more force to remove the screw. See how Richard uses this tool)

    • adjustable wrench
      Adjustable Wrench, to loosen the packing nut)

    • needlenose pliers
      Needlenosed pliers, to pull out the stem assembly)
    • round file
      File, to file away the pitted wall of the stem)
    • faucet seat wrench
      Seat Wrench, to remove the seat and check it for burrs)

    Shopping List

    1. Seat Washer, the rubber disk on the stem's underside

    2. Washer Screw made of brass

    3. Nickel/Copper-Alloy Retainer Bowl to rebuild the stem

    4. Pipe Joint Compound to reseal the seat