Homeowners ask a lot from outdoor faucets. These faucets are used to provide water for washing cars, cleaning outdoor areas, watering lawns, and even filling swimming pools. Throughout all that use, the faucets are exposed to harsh environmental elements like heat, cold, and rain. Over time, outdoor faucets may begin to drip or leak. Left unchecked, a leaky faucet can not only waste water, it can contribute to expensive home damage. Here is some basic information on fixing a leaky outdoor faucet. Read along and in no time, you’ll be an expert on performing this simple home project.
Step #1: Find the shutoff valve
Some outdoor faucets have their own shutoff valve to block water flow from the rest of the home’s plumbing. The shutoff valve may be located behind an access panel such as in a laundry room or other room where plumbing is close to an exterior wall of the home. If you have a basement, the outdoor faucet shutoff valves may be located there.
If you can’t find a specific valve for your faucets, you’ll have to shut off water to the whole house using the master valve located near the street or front sidewalk. Shut the water off and let the faucet drain before starting the repair work.
Step #2: Replace washers and packing
An outdoor faucet (sometimes referred to as a hose bib or hose spigot in various parts of the country) usually has a large hexagonal nut just below the faucet handle. Inside this nut is a series of washers and/or packing, all part of the system called a “valve stem”. Over time, the washers and packing wear out and must be replaced. This is an easy job, provided you can get enough leverage on the nut to loosen it. Bring the old parts to the hardware store so you can match the sizes with new parts.
Step #3: Still leaking? Replace the valve stem
If replacing washers and packing don’t help and the faucet is still dripping, it may be time to replace the entire valve stem assembly. Just like before, bring the old part to the hardware store so you can buy the correct replacement part the first time.
Step #4: Still leaking? Replace the faucet
A replacement outdoor faucet is sometimes the best way to correct a leak. Replacing the faucet itself is fairly straightforward…simply unscrew the old one from the supply line, add a bit of thread sealer to the pipe threads, and then tighten the new faucet on.
If your faucet STILL leaks or drips, it’s time to call a professional plumber. A typical outdoor faucet replacement is relatively inexpensive, and the plumber can help ensure your new faucet is ready to perform for years to come.