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How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

Fixing a leaky 2-handle faucet is easy when you know the parts that make up your faucet. Leaky faucets are usually caused by a worn-out O-ring, gasket or cartridge, the part that regulates the flow of your hot and cold water, which can easily be replaced with a few simple tools. We’ll show you how to fix a leaky faucet by removing your faucet handle, replacing your cartridge and putting everything back together in this handy guide.

Skill Level: Beginner
  1. Step 1 Find Out Which Faucet Handle is Causing the Leak

    A person closes off the water valve under the sink.

    The first step in fixing a leaky, 2-handle faucet is to figure out which handle is leaking. First, turn off your cold-water valve and check your faucet, if it has stopped dripping, it’s the cold water handle. If it still has water dripping, turn off your hot water valve. If it stops, you’ll know it’s your hot water handle.

  2. Step 2 Remove the Faucet Handle

    A person uses an Allen wrench to remove the set screw from their faucet handle.

    Before removing your faucet handles, be sure to cover your sink in a rag to prevent any small parts from being lost down the drain by accident. Then use an Allen wrench (or whichever tool your faucet requires) to loosen your set screw and pry off your faucet handle – or use a flat-head screwdriver to pry off the cap on your handle and loosen the screw underneath. It all depends on the type of faucet handles you have.

  3. Step 3 Remove and Replace the Cartridge

    A person removes a leaky cartridge from their faucet handle.

    Using a crescent wrench, loosen the packing nut to gain access to your cartridge. The cartridge regulates the flow of your hot and cold water. Remove the cartridge by pulling it straight up and wipe around your faucet and surrounding area to dry it. Once dry, place your new cartridge into the spot you pulled the old one from by pushing it down with firm pressure. Be sure to check your O-rings while you can see them as well and replace them if they look worn out.

  4. Step 4 Reinstall the Faucet Handle

    A person sets the handle back down onto the faucet before tightening it on again.

    Once you’ve got your new cartridge in place, reattach the faucet handle and tighten the screw that you removed earlier. If there’s a set screw, be sure to tighten that as well. Now just run your water for a minute or two to make sure that everything is working as it should, and that the leak has stopped – with no water dripping - when you shut it off. You’ve just fixed your leaky faucet!

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