How to Repair a Dripping Single-Handled Faucet
Stop that annoying kitchen faucet leak, with instructions from This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey
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."
Single-Handle Cartridge Faucet Diagram
A single-handled cartridge faucet is easy to disassemble. Just pry off the decorative cap on the handle, remove the handle screw, tilt the handle back and pull it off. If there's a threaded retaining clip holding the cartridge in place, use needle-nose pliers to remove it, and then pull the cartridge straight up. In Richard's case, only the cartridge needed replacing. If the O-rings are cracked, remove the spout and cut off the old O-rings using a utility knife. After coating the new O-rings with nontoxic, heat-proof plumber's grease, reassemble the unit.