Step 4: Inspect the valve seat, then reassemble

Richard finds an identical-size replacement washer in his collection and fastens it on with the new brass screw. "For a short-term fix—in a pinch—you can flip the washer over if it's smooth on the other side," he suggests. Before placing the stem back on the valve seat (the cylindrical piece that butts against the washer and creates a seal with it when the faucet is off), he removes the seat with counterclockwise turns of a special seat wrench and checks it for burrs caused by scraping and corrosion. "If the seat is badly mangled," he says, "you could replace the washer every four days, but it'll just keep leaking." This one is undamaged, so he doesn't replace it; he just seals it with pipe joint compound and reassembles the handle.

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    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