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How to Fix a Washer Type Faucet

Repair a Bathroom or Kitchen Sink with a Washer Seat Dressing Tool

© 2008 by all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

Washer Type Bathroom or Kitchen Faucet

You can repair a leaking bathroom faucet or kitchen faucet by replacing the washer and using a washer seat dressing tool. DIY to avoid a costly plumber service call.

What Kind of Faucet do You Have?

Do you know how expensive a service call from a plumber is? Why not fix it yourself?

The first step to repairing sink faucets is to determine what type it is. Washer type faucets have a rubber washer which closes on a washer seat made of metal.

This washer will wear and become hard over time causing the seat to wear from friction. The result is a leaky faucet.

This article focuses on fixing a washer type faucet. Have a different type? Faucet repair is still an easy DIY project. Although closing your faucet tighter will slow the rate of leaking, eventually you’ll have to fix it.

Tools Needed For Repairing Your Faucet

  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Phillip’s head screwdriver
  • Washer seat dressing tool
  • Faucet seat wrench

Disassemble the Faucet

The first thing to do is isolate the water supply. There are two water supply shutoff valves on the supply lines, one for hot water and the other for cold. Just turn the valves clockwise.

Now remove the faucet handle by first taking off the decorative cap and removing the Phillip’s head screw under it. The cap either screws on or snaps on. Be careful with any plastic parts used on plumbing faucets.

Now lift or pry your faucet’s handle off the broached stem and unscrew a packing nut found under the handle. This will give you a view of the stem.

Take out the stem by turning it in the counterclockwise. It’s threaded to allow removal. Clean any debris from cavity but avoid damaging the inside.

Examine Your Stem

Carefully examine the stem. If you find the threads to be corroded or worn down, replace the entire stem. Take the old one to the plumbing shop to make sure you get the correct one. If the threads are ok, just give it a good cleaning.

You’ll find the washer located at the lower part of the stem. It’s secured using a screw. Take the washer off and replace it. This is most likely where the dripping is coming from.

If your brass screw is in bad shape, replace it.

Reface the Washer Seat with a Seat Dressing Tool

You’ll find the washer seat inside the body of the faucet. Most likely you won’t be able determine conclusively if your washer seat was part of the leak problem by examining it. One clue is if the washer needs replacement frequently.

If so, the seat needs re-facing. Do this using a seat dressing tool which is cheap and a good investment. Place it inside the faucet with the packing nut.

Then just rotate until the seat becomes smooth. Clean out any debris that the re-facing created. Or you might be able to unscrew and replace your washer seat. Look into the faucet body using a flashlight.

If you see a square or a hexagonal hole in the center of the seat you can change it out. But if you see a round hole with no slots you’re out of luck and you'll have to dress it as described above.

Since dressing it removes a bit of material, shouldn’t it be called undressing? Oh well, I don’t make the rules, I just do the work.

Replace the Washer Seat

To change it out, use a faucet seat wrench; this tool is equipped with several square and hex heads. Just turn your washer seat counterclockwise to loosen it, and then clockwise to tighten it.

Be sure to use a bit of Teflon plumbing tape around its threads when you replace it.

Reassemble and Test the Faucet

Now you’re done with the repair, so put all your parts together in the reverse order of which you took them apart. Use a dab of silicone grease on the stem’s threads; This will lubricate the faucet and make it operate smoothly.

Now just turn the water supply valves on and check for leaks.

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