The most common type of faucet is the compression faucet, which controls the flow of water by compressing a fibre washer against a valve seat when a threaded spindle is turned. Thus the faucet can control the flow of water easily even when the water pressure is great.
A faucet that continues to drip after it has been turned off probably has a worn washer which no longer fits tightly against the valve seat. The washer should be replaced. This is not difficult. After shutting off the water, either at the fixture or at the main shut-off valve in the cellar, turn on the faucet and wait for the water to be drawn off the water supply pipes.
A kitchen faucet beneath a second floor bathroom will take a long time to drain if you shut off the water at the main shut-off valve. You can hasten the process by opening the bathroom faucets, too.
Once the water has drained, unscrew the cap or bonnet with an adjustable wrench. Be careful not to mar the finish. A piece of cloth placed between the jaws of the wrench will protect the finish. After a few turns with a wrench, the cap will unscrew the rest of the way by hand. When the cap is free of the valve, turn the faucet handle a few turns and the whole stem or spindle will come up out of the valve body. You can then see the set screw which holds the washer at the bottom of the stem.
Remove the set screw with a screwdriver. If it is rusted tight and cannot be readily loosened, place a drop or two of oil around the screwhead and wait a few minutes for the oil to penetrate.
After removing the set screw, replace the old washer with a new one of the same size. If the set screw is too rusted, replace that with a new one before reassembling the faucet. Put the spindle back in the faucet body and turn it down carefully as far as it will go. Screw on the cap by hand, and finally tighten it carefully with the wrench.
It is a good idea to check on other faucets while you have the water turned off. Replace any washers that are more than slightly worn; even if the faucets have not yet started to leak, they may begin to drip in six months or so.
Worn valve seats
Worn valve seats are sometimes the cause of leakage. So check valve seats for signs of roughness. A special tool called a valve-seat dressing tool can be purchased for use in filing down a valve seat until it is smooth. After any attempt to smooth the valve seat, be sure to brush or flush all loose bits of metal out of the faucet before reinserting the spindle.
If the faucet continues to drip after a new washer has been inserted and the valve seat smoothed, you had better buy a new faucet. They are not expensive. In fact, it might be more economical to buy a new faucet than to buy a valve-seat dressing tool and endeavour to smooth a valve seat.
If a faucet leaks up above the bonnet or cap instead of down the spout, the cap is probably not screwed on tight enough. Tighten the cap a trifle. If the leak still persists, the packing washer should be removed and replaced. To do this, unscrew the set screw that holds the handle in place, slide off the cap and packing washer, and put on a new washer. Then reassemble and test it.
If that does not stop the leaking, perhaps the screw or threaded part of the spindle is worn loose or worn out. In that case, a new stem and faucet repair cap may prove the solution. Take out the old stem, remove the handle, and slip off the bonnet and packing. Take the handle off the new faucet repair stem and slip on the packing and old bonnet. Replace the new assembly in the faucet and tighten the bonnet.
These are found in some homes. They work on a different principle than the compression faucet, and open wide on a 180° turn. A small eccentric moves a Fuller ball forward or backward, thus opening or closing a valve. This Fuller ball acts as a washer and is made of hard rubber or a composition material.
To inspect this ball to see whether it is worn, unscrew the front part of the faucet instead of merely the cap as with compression valves. Naturally, turn off your water supply first. Use a stilson wrench and put a piece of cloth between the jaws to keep from marring the finish.
The Fuller ball is held in place by a nut. Tightening this some more might be all that is needed, but that is a rather remote possibility. Buy a new Fuller ball at a hardware or plumbing supply store and put it in place. Adjust the nut so the ball is tight against the valve seat when the handle is in the closed position. Some Fuller faucets have a screw that holds the ball in place instead of a nut on a bolt.
If the faucet continues to leak after a new ball is installed, the eccentric shaft has probably become worn. that case it would be wise to buy a new faucet. Some faucets cost only a few dollars.
Noise in faucets
At times, when you turn off a faucet or turn it on part way, pounding or hammering results. This happens with both compression and Fuller-ball faucets. In either case, shut off the water supply. If yours is a compression faucet, remove the cap, turn out the spindle, and examine each part. If the washer is loose, tighten the brass screw; if it is worn, replace it. If the threads on the spindle are badly worn, thus letting the spindle rattle, you will have to buy a new faucet.
If you have a Fuller-ball faucet, unscrew it to check the ball. Tighten it if it is loose, and replace it if it is worn. The eccentric may be worn. There is nothing to do then but buy a new faucet unless you can secure a new eccentric from a plumber.
Cleaning bubble-flow faucet spout
A bubble-flow faucet spout is one that activates the water by increasing the amount of oxygen in it. It is used to aid in making suds. Should the strainers inside the bubble-flow attachment become clogged, you will have to take it apart. This spout consists of a body, three strainers, a perforated cup, a brass disk, and a sealing washer. Take the spout apart and place the parts in order so that you will be able to replace them correctly. Clean each of the parts and reassemble. Be sure to screw the body tightly or else the parts will not be pressed properly together.