Is There Anything Less Romantic Than the Incessant Drip of a Leaky Faucet?
Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to spend a romantic evening with one’s sweetheart, complete with a candlelit dinner, flowers, and fancy chocolates. And, of course, no night of romance is complete without a bit of mood music. But nothing will ruin the mood quite like a dripping faucet.
With the constant “drip, drip, drip” of a leaky faucet in the background, it might be difficult for any couple to whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ears. But a dripping tap is more than just an annoying distraction – it can also have unpleasant consequences. So homeowners should read on to learn what makes a faucet leak, the dangers it can cause, and how to fix it.
Is a Dripping Faucet Really That Bad?
According to the EPA, a single faucet leaking at one drip per second can waste over 3,000 gallons of water yearly. To put that in perspective, that’s close to 200 showers worth of water. Even slower drips can significantly drive up water bills, one drop at a time – so letting leaky faucets go unfixed is like pouring money down the drain!
A leaking faucet can also lead to mildew and mold growth since the drain will never have a chance to dry out. Mold and bacteria thrive in moist conditions like these. Mold can also cause adverse health effects for those in the household. For these reasons, it’s best to fix leaky faucets as soon as possible.
What Causes a Faucet to Leak?
There are a few reasons a faucet might start to leak. One of the most common is a loose or worn O-ring. The O-ring is a rubber ring that forms a seal inside the faucet assembly to prevent water from seeping out around the base of the faucet. Over time, these can wear out, loosen, or break, causing water to leak from either the base or the spout of the faucet. Similarly, if the washer that sits on the valve seat becomes worn, it can also result in a leak – but these washers are generally only found in older two-handle compression faucets.
Most of today’s faucets feature a faucet cartridge, which controls the flow and mix of water from the hot and cold supply lines. Cartridges can also wear out or break over time, allowing water to leak through the spout. If none of the above issues are causing the leak, the likely culprit is corrosion on the valve seat. The corrosion is typically caused by dissolved minerals in the water – a particularly common problem in regions with hard water.
Fixing a Leaky Faucet
In some cases, homeowners may be able to handle leaky faucet repair independently. However, the safest and best solution is to call a professional. First, homeowners will want to turn off the water supply to the faucet by closing the shutoff valve under the sink. For a tub faucet or showerhead, this valve may not be easily accessible (and some sinks may not even have an individual shutoff), so homeowners should close the home’s main shutoff valve.
Once the water is off, homeowners can turn on the faucet to let any remaining water drain out. The next step is to remove the faucet handle, which generally requires a hex key or Allen wrench. Once the handle and metal sleeve are removed, the cartridge or valve stem should be visible. Homeowners can remove this and inspect the O-ring, valve seat, and washer (if applicable). If there’s any obvious damage to these components, homeowners can start by replacing them individually – or simply replace the cartridge.
It’s important to note that some faucets may require different tools and involve a slightly different process to repair. And with DIY repairs, there’s always a risk of doing more damage to the plumbing, getting the wrong part, or even sustaining minor injuries. So, in general, it’s better to let a professional plumber handle faucet repairs. Plumbers can get the job done quickly, determine if there’s a deeper cause for the leak (such as excessive water pressure), and carry insurance to protect them and the homeowners if something goes wrong, so homeowners can get back to their romantic evening with peace of mind that the job has been done right!
About Jim Wagner Plumbing, Inc.
Jim Wagner Plumbing, Inc. has proudly served Lombard, IL, and the surrounding areas for three generations. They offer upfront pricing, fast turnaround times, and honest advice. Call them today for faucet replacement and repair in Lombard, IL.