The DIY Guide to Fix a Leaky Faucet

Fix a Leaky Faucet

For homeowners everywhere, do-it-yourself projects are almost inevitable. There are projects to be done, things that will break or need replacing, and a litany of other things to do. One of the most common is having the need to fix a leaky faucet.

Don’t fret, though: fixing a leaky faucet is one of the most common DIY projects there is for homeowners everywhere. The process is relatively easy to complete and can be a relatively cheap and quick fix to implement. Or, if the task is too tall, you can lean on the experts at Gallegos Plumbing to perform the job for you.

Leaky Faucet Repair


Gallegos has been serving Ventura County in a wide array of plumbing services since 1996. If you have any questions before or during the DIY process, call us at 805.750.1830 for more.

Identify the Faucet Type

Before we begin, it helps to know the different faucet types. This is because each faucet not only works a specific kind of way but it has different components as well. Determining the type of faucet you have is an important first step. Here are the most common types of faucets there are:


These faucets will have two handles, so you can easily differentiate this type of faucet from the others.

Ceramic Disk

This type of faucet will contain a ceramic cylinder under the handle accompanied by o-rings.


Similar to the previous type, this one will have a cartridge under the handle as well as the aforementioned o-rings and a clip as well.


You might be seeing a theme here as this one contains a ball bearing under the handle.

Here is a guide on the steps that you need to take to get your faucet working properly once again, eliminating that leak that can cause a serious annoyance. Follow these steps and you should be able to take care of that leak each and every time, leaving you with a fixed faucet and feeling like a DIY master.

Turn Off the Water Supply

Failing to take this step will only exacerbate the problem. Save yourself an inadvertent shower by turning off the water supply to the faucet from every point. This means making certain the handles are off and the main water supply is as well.

This will help to keep the area under control and prevent any additional buildup in the water around the area. Any excess water can make things more difficult and it will only serve to frustrate you further as you go through the process of fixing the leaky faucet.

It is surprising how many people fail to take this step when they try to fix a leaky faucet and wind up with a huge cleanup effort facing them. Don’t make the process more difficult than it has to be; make certain to turn off the water supply before beginning and saving yourself a heck of a lot of trouble.

Remove the Hardware

The next step in the process to fix a leaky faucet is to get a flathead screwdriver. Use it to gently pry off any of the decorative aspects of the faucet handle hardware. Once you have done this, you will see screws underneath that fasten the handle to the stem of the faucet itself.

From here, use your flathead screwdriver to unscrew and then carefully remove the handle itself. If you deem it necessary, use some penetrating oil in order to loosen the handle so that it will lift up easily off of the stem itself.

With anything like screws or loose parts that can be easily misconstrued or confused, make certain to store them in a zip-lock bag. This will prevent any of the screws or pieces from being lost, which can result in having to find replacement pieces either online or at a local hardware store. Patience and caution will go a long way in anything that you do, making certain that you don’t put yourself in unfavorable positions.

Remove the Packing Nut

Keeping the train moving, the next step towards properly fixing your leaky faucet is to grab a wrench if you have not already. Take that wrench and use it to loosen the packing nut before ultimately removing it from the stem itself.

The stem should come off easily, but if there is rusting or any additional sort of damage to it, you might need to manually twist it off of the valve in order to remove it. Once you have removed all of the parts, take the time to inspect them. This is to check to ensure that no damage has been done to them; if there is damage, you will need to replace that piece or pieces.

Remove the Packing Nut

It might take a little bit of extra time, but inspecting each piece to ensure that it is working properly can save you from potential issues down the road. It allows you to take care of the necessary repairs all at once instead of having to revisit the issue sooner rather than later.

Replace the Washer and O-Ring

Provided that the stem and handle are undamaged – and if they are, you should replace them as soon as possible – the next step to fix your leaky faucet is to inspect both the o-ring and the washer. Both can be found on the inside of the valve itself.

One of the most common causes around for a leaky faucet is with the o-rings and washers. This is because these are smaller pieces that are more easily damaged. Thankfully, they are also pretty cheap to replace, so don’t fret about serious repairs if it is just an o-ring or washer issue.

Since these are the most common culprits for leaks, it is optimal to replace both of them at the same time. Keep in mind that the o-ring and the washer have to be an exact fit with the valve itself, so take your old ones to the hardware store with you in order to make certain that you are getting the exact o-ring and washer that you need for your specific hardware.

Put Everything Back

Once you have replaced the o-ring and the washer and fixed your leaky faucet, now comes the process of putting it all back together once again. Work backward from the way that you took everything apart: O-ring and washer first, then the stem, the packing nut, screws, handles, and the decorative knobs last.

If you are inexperienced with fixing a leaky faucet, it can be helpful to take pictures throughout the process to have visual aids when it comes to putting things back together. This eliminates any question about how things go back together.

Lastly, test everything out by turning the water back on and testing the knob to see if you have successfully fixed your leaky faucet. If there is still a leak, the most common cause for this is likely due to parts that were not completely tightened; go back through and re-tighten anything.

If, after you have re-tightened everything, the leak persists, you could have a defective o-ring/washer. Try replacing that again as it’s pretty cheap to do. If things continue to not work, the next logical step is to call Gallegos Plumbing to resolve the issue for you at 805.750.1830 or you can leave a message here.