Repairing Faucets

LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP - It's easy to lose track of the assembly order and even easier to lose faucet parts themselves. Read instructions carefully before you begin. Always cover the drain to keep pieces from escaping and arrange the parts on a flat surface as you remove them.

REMOVAL MAY BE THE HARDEST PART - The hardest part of almost any plumbing job is removing the old stuff. Corrosion and inaccessibility can make the job more difficult than you might expect. Be patient and budget a little extra time. That way you won't be unnecessarily frustrated.

Repairing A Compression Faucet

MATERIALS: Universal washer kit, O-ring, silicone grease

TOOLS: Screwdriver, water-pump pliers

PACKING STRING Vs. O-RINGS - You may find packing string rather than an 0-ring in some compression assemblies. If so, you'll need to replace the packing string before you reassemble the faucet.

1 TURN OFF THE WATER SUPPLY AND UNSCREW THE STEM ASSEMBLY. Pry off the handle cap. Remove the handle screw with a screwdriver. Lift it up and off the handle. To remove corroded handles, you may have to use a handle puller (see Closer Look, below). Unscrew the packing nut from the faucet body with water-pump pliers.

2 TAKE OFF THE WASHER. Use a screwdriver to remove the bib screw that holds the washer in place. If the screw is stuck, tap on it gently for about 30 seconds to loosen the rust. Remove the screw, pry out the worn washer, and discard it. While the valve is out, examine the valve seat by touch. If you feel any roughness, replace it.

3 REMOVE THE STEM FROM THE RETAINING NUT. Inspect the threads for damage and replace the stem if necessary. Never reuse an old washer, no matter how good it looks!

4 PEEL OFF (DON’T CUT) THE O-RING. Slip the 0-ring from its groove and peel it from the housing. It's important to keep the ring whole so you can find an exact replacement at the store. Use the tip of a screwdriver to help release it if necessary. If you can't peel it off, get an O-ring remover to help you with the job.

REMOVING A STUBBORN HANDLE - A handy tool to remove corroded handles is a handle puller. Clamp the side extensions of the handle puller beneath the handle. Thread the puller into the faucet stem. Continue to tighten the puller until the handle is free.

Replacing A Worn Valve Seat

Only compression valves have valve seats. When repairing a compression valve, check to see if the valve seats need to be resurfaced. Poke your finger down into the faucet body to feel if the valve seat is rough. A rough seat will quickly damage a new washer. You should either replace or resurface the valve seat at the same time you are replacing the faucet washer.

MATERIALS: Valve seat, silicone grease, pipe dope

TOOLS: Screwdriver, water-pump pliers, seat wrench, seat cutter

REPAIR OR REPLACE - Compression faucets can be repaired up to a point. When too much of the seat is ground away, you're better off replacing the assembly.

FLUSH OUT THE FAUCET BODY - Resurfacing the valve seat is actually an easy job but you've got to remember to clean the debris from inside the faucet body or it'll ruin that swell new washer you just put on. Flush the system before you reassemble the faucet. Cover the faucet hole with a rag and turn on the water gently to remove any debris or other gunk. You'll make a longer-lasting repair.

1 TURN OFF THE WATER SUPPLY AND DISASSEMBLE THE FAUCET VALVE. Lower the sink stopper and cover it with a cloth to prevent loose parts from falling into the drain. Pry off the handle cap, and remove the handle with a screwdriver. REMOVE THE VALVE. Loosen the compression valve with water-pump pliers and remove it. Keep any washers or 0-rings with the valve and set them aside.

2 BACK OUT THE SEAT. Use a seat wrench to remove the valve seat. Select an end that fits snugly into the seat. Insert the end of the wrench into the seat and tap the top to seat it firmly. The valve seat may be stuck, so the first turn should be quick and firm to release it without stripping the threads. Once it’s loose, turn the wrench counterclockwise and remove it. Take the old seat to your local home center to be sure you replace it with the correct part.

3 REPLACE THE SEAT. Install the new seat into the faucet. Apply pipe dope to the seat threads to seal them; insert the end of the seat wrench into the seat, and set the seat in place. Screw the valve into place. Assemble the compression valve, faucet handle, and handle cap. Turn on the water supply and check for leaks.

LEAK PREVENTION - If you're replacing one valve seat, you might as well do the other. And because you’ve already got the assembly apart, replace the washers, bib screws, and O-rings on the valves.

RESURFACING A WORN VALVE SEAT - Worn valve seats can be resurfaced using a seat cutter, which can be purchased at a home center or hardware store. Select a seat cutter that will fit snugly inside the retaining nut. Slide the cutter and retaining nut over the threaded end of the valve seat dressing tool. Attach the locknut and cutter head to the shaft of the tool. Carefully screw the retaining nut into the faucet body. To resurface the seat, lightly press down on the handle while turning it clockwise two to three complete turns. Remove the tool and inspect the seat by feeling it to make sure it's smooth. If not, repeat the procedure. When smooth, reassemble the faucet.

Repairing A Ceramic Disk Faucet

MATERIALS: Ceramic disk faucet replacement kit with seals, abrasive pad, silicone grease

TOOLS: Screwdriver or hex key set

MAKE IT EASIER NEXT TIME - No shutoff valves below the sink? Think about installing them now. Shutoffs make all repairs easier because you don't have to run to the basement to shut off the water. They’re handier in emergencies too.

1 TURN OFF THE WATER AT THE SUPPLY OR MAIN SHUTOFF. Loosen the setscrew with a hex key. Lift off the handle and dome housing. Unscrew the disk cartridge screws with a screwdriver. Lift the disk up and out. Inspect the disk for cracks—replace it if damaged.

2 TAKE OUT THE SEALS. Take the disk and seals to your local home center to find the correct replacement parts.

3 CLEAN THE SEAL SEATS with an abrasive pad.

4 INSTALL NEW SEALS. Coat them with silicone grease to prevent them from drying out, making them easier to remove.

5 ASSEMBLE THE FAUCET. Install the escutcheon cap and handle, and tighten the setscrew. Remove air from the line before fully opening the supply valves.

Keep the instructions that came with your faucet 50 you can easily order replacement parts.

DON’T CRACK THAT CERAMIC DISK! Air rushing through a ceramic disk can valves to bleed out crack it. First, open the faucet in the air. Don't turn off center position to balance the flow of the faucet until water flows freely and water, then gradually open the shutoff all the air is out.

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