Why worry about a leaky faucet? In addition to being environmentally costly, a dripping faucet will be economically costly as well, wasting as much as five gallons of water per day.
First, try to identify the type of faucet you have and check the manufacturer, website. There are numerous online video tutorials you can view before tackling the project. And many hardware stores carry an assortment of universal repair kits for ceramic disc faucets, compression faucets, cartridge faucets as well as a ball-type faucet.
Before making repairs, the water supply should be turned off both under the sink and at the faucet. With a few simple tools, such as screwdrivers, needle-nose and/or slip joint pliers and adjustable and hex wrenches, and perhaps a few repair parts, a novice can make a repair.
Disassemble the faucet and take pictures as you do so. (Try to lay out the parts in the order in which they are removed, for easy reassembly.) But first, close the drain in the basin of the sink and place a towel in the basin to protect the surface and collect any dropped parts. Wrap duct tape around the jaws of the wrench or pliers to avoid damage to the finish when removing finished parts. Look for any worn parts and take them with you to a hardware store, or take all parts along with you for help in identifying which part may need to be replaced. In some cases, parts will need to be special-ordered.
Inspect the parts for bits of deteriorated gaskets or mineral deposits. Sometimes, just by cleaning off mineral deposits using a cloth or fine nylon abrasive pad will solve the problem. Loosen mineral deposits by soaking them in vinegar.
Leaks around the base of the spout are usually caused by worn 0-rings located under the spout. Spout 0-ring kits are available for many faucets or you can replace just the old ring and take it with you when you go to the store to find.
After reassembling the faucet, turn on the faucet handle(s) first, then slowly turn on the water supply. Too much initial pressure can damage parts.
This type of repair is easy to make and can save on the cost of calling a plumber. If the problem persists, it may be more complicated and require the help of a professional to lick the leak, or replacing the faucet on your own.
Another relatively easy repair to solve is an annoying but common problem—the running toilet. Depending on the age of the toilet and the “guts” inside the tank, this can be a 10- second repair with just a screwdriver. Remove the lid to the tank and look for a screw head sitting at the top of the tallest piece of the inside flushing system—connected to the arm of the float (it’s called a float adjustment screw on the fill valve). Use the screwdriver to make a slight, quarter-turn adjustment to the screw (by turning it clock-wise). Wait a few minutes to see if the problem disappears.
That was the really easy repair. More often, the flapper inside the tank that allows water into the bowl when flushing or is meant to keep the water stored in the tank at all other tirnes, is worn out or has mineral buildup on the flap. Push down on the flapper with a stick or your hand when you hear the water running. If it stops, you know the flapper is not sealing properly. If not, turn off the water supply to the toilet and try scrubbing it with an old toothbrush, or you can easily remove it and take it with you to a hardware store to buy an inexpensive replacement of the same size and fit. For even more options on silencing a running toilet, how-to videos are helpful.
For other toilet leaks, simply tightening bolts may be all that is needed. Over time, parts experience a little movement or deterioration from wear and weight. You can make adjustments as you troubleshoot a slight leak, but never over-tighten—easy hand-tightening is all that is required and anything more could cause the porcelain to crack. Replacing rubber washers or gaskets can also fix a problem quickly.
What about another water emergency… a waterfall inside the house? Water emer-gencies are never the time for fumbling with the water shut-off valve. It’s good to know the location well in advance of any problems. Typically, the valve is in an out-of-the-way utility area of the house (cooler climates), but it could also be located outside (warmer climates). In some instances, builders will even hide it behind a removable panel. Controlling this valve allows a full floss of water through the pipe when it, open. Turning off this valve cuts off the water supply to the entire house if necessary. Every occupant in the home should know where the shut-off valve is located and how to use it.
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