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Fixing a Compression Faucet

Project Overview

Fixing a Compression Faucet

Compression faucets are one of the most common types of faucets. Two-handled faucets are usually compression types. They use a little mechanism called a stem to open and shut the supply of water. The stem is operated by turning the faucet handle. The most common problem is that the O-rings and washers used to seal the stem inside the faucet get worn and must be replaced.

5 Steps

  1. Turn Off the Water
  2. Unscrew the Stem Assembly
  3. Remove the Brass Stem
  4. Unscrew the Threaded Spindle
  5. Cut Off and Replace the Old O-ring
Turn Off the Water

Step 1

Turn Off the Water

Turn off the water. An index cap is the button that covers the top of the faucet handle. You can pry it up with the tip of a screwdriver. Once it's off, remove the handle screw. Take the handle off by pulling it straight up. If necessary, use a handle puller to remove the handle.

Unscrew the Stem Assembly

Step 2

Unscrew the Stem Assembly

Unscrew the stem assembly from the body of the faucet, using a pair of slip-joint pliers. Inspect the valve seat for wear by sticking your finger into the stem hole. If the metal inside is rough, you may need to resurface the seat. If the seats seem badly worn, it's usually best to replace the whole seat.

Remove the Brass Stem

Step 3

Remove the Brass Stem

Remove the brass stem screw from the stem assembly. The worn stem washer should come right off. Don't discard it -- you'll need it to pick a replacement.

Unscrew the Threaded Spindle

Step 4

Unscrew the Threaded Spindle

Unscrew the threaded spindle from the retaining nut.

Cut Off and Replace the Old O-ring

Step 5

Cut Off and Replace the Old O-ring

Cut off the old O-ring and replace it with an exact duplicate. Install a new washer and the stem screw. Coat all the parts with a little heatproof grease, then reassemble the faucet. Reassemble the stem assembly, replace the stem assembly in the faucet and attach the handle. Turn the water back on.

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Project Details

Skill Level: Beginner

Time: 1 hour

Before you start, read this »

Due to differing conditions, tools, and individual skills, The Home Depot® assumes no responsibility for any damages, injuries suffered, or losses incurred as a result of attempting to replicate any of the home improvement ideas portrayed in this website Before beginning any home improvement project, review it thoroughly to ensure you or your contractor can finish the project and if any doubts or questions remain, consult local experts or authorities. Because codes and regulations vary greatly, you always should check with authorities to ensure that your project complies with all applicable local codes and regulations. Always read and observe all of the safety precautions provided by any tool or equipment manufacturer, and follow all accepted safety procedures.


  • Replacement Parts as Needed
  • Heatproof Grease


  • Pliers-slip Joint

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