How to Change a Faucet Washer

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How to Change a Faucet Washer

If you have a leaky faucet, you may have heard that changing the faucet washer will stop the leak. It’s certainly worth a try and is a relatively simple task. The first step in how to change a faucet washer is to determine if your faucet actually has a washer. The majority of new faucets today are so-called washerless faucets. A compression faucet is the only type of faucet that uses a neoprene washer.

How to Identify a Compression Water Faucet

Compression water faucets are an older style faucet. They can be installed in the kitchen, at the bathroom sink, or in the bathtub. You can identify a compression washer faucet by the separate hot and cold water handles and their action requiring you to tighten the handles down to close off the water flow. These faucets work by using a compression stem which is sort of like a screw with a washer at the end of it that presses down on the valve seat. Just because your faucet has two handles doesn’t mean it’s a compression faucet.

There are double handle cartridge faucets that are newer. The way to tell the difference is that with the cartridge faucet, half a turn on a handle is all it takes to turn the water on or off. With a compression faucet, you have to use extra effort to turn it on or off, often requiring more than one full turn of the handle.

Step By Step Directions to Change a Faucet Washer

So now that you’ve identified your faucet as a compression faucet, it’s time to see if changing the washer will fix your leaky faucet. You might as well replace another part, called the O-ring, at the same time, as you are going to be taking the faucet apart and reassembling it. Here are your step-by-step directions:

  1. Turn off the water supply valves. These will be found on the wall under the sink. For a bathtub, you may not have access to the water supply valves. You may want to call a plumber.
  2. Turn both of the faucet’s handles to the “on” position to empty any water from the pipes.
  3. Close the drain or put a cloth over it to prevent small parts from going down the drain.
  4. Lay out a towel that you can place the parts on, in the order in which you removed them. This will make it easier to reassemble the faucet later.
  5. Remove both handles or knobs by prying off the temperature cap (a plastic piece with H or C) to uncover the screw. Unscrew the screw, and remove the screw and the knob or handle.
  6. Removing the knobs or handles will reveal the valve stem. Use a wrench to loosen the locking nut. Remove the valve stem.
  7. On the stem, you will see a screw, and underneath that is the black washer, and underneath that is the white O-ring. Remove them all.
  8. Take the old parts to the hardware store so you get the right replacement parts. Ask someone in the plumbing aisle for assistance, if needed.
  9. Coat the valve stem with plumbers grease and install a new O-ring and washer. Replace the screw.
  10. Replace the valve stem, and reassemble the handles or knobs.
  11. Turn the water supply lines back on.
  12. Slowly turn the water on. If there’s no leak, you’re done. If water sprays everywhere, or there’s still a leak, either start over or call a local plumber.

Is It Time for a New Faucet?

If you’ve repaired your faucet multiple times, it may be time for a new faucet. Or if you’re remodeling, you may want to put in new faucets to update your bathroom or kitchen. Do your homework before deciding on what type of faucet to buy. Consider the pros and cons of each, and read the reviews for each type of faucet. And remember that you get what you pay for. Moen and other similar faucets may cost more, but they are better made and will last longer. Consider calling a plumber to install your new faucets so that everything is up to code.

Call Plumbing By Jake for Plumbing Repair and Installation

Call 928-377-5910 for an emergency plumber 24/7 or during regular business hours if it’s not an emergency. You can use our contact form to schedule plumbing repair or installation of a water softener system for your home or business. At Plumbing By Jake, we back every repair or installation with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. We serve Kingman, Bullhead City, Golden Valley, Lake Havasu, and all of Mohave County, Arizona.