Stem-Compression Faucet Repair and Installation

Intro

Most older two-handle faucets have stems that move up and down as the handle is turned. A rubber washer at the bottom of the stem presses against a seat in the faucet body to seal out water. If the washer or the seat becomes worn, water seeps through and drips out of the spout.

If water seeps below the handle or the base of the faucet, an O-ring or the packing probably needs to be replaced.

Getting the parts
All-purpose repair kits for stem faucets contain washers and O-rings of various sizes. To make sure you have a perfect match, take the stem along when buying the repair kit. An older type of faucet may need a packing washer or string packing. If the stem itself is worn, replacing the rubber parts will not solve the problem. You can replace the stem if you can find a new one; replacing the faucet may be the best option.

Prestart Checklist

Time
Less than an hour for most repairs

Tools
Screwdrivers; adjustable wrench; perhaps a handle puller, seat wrench, or seat grinder

Skills
Shutting off water, dismantling a faucet, installing small parts

Prep
Shut off the water, close the sink stopper, and place a rag in the sink to catch any parts

Materials
Washer, O-rings, silicone grease, packing

Step 1

Shut off the water and open both handles until water stops running. Pry off the decorative cap, remove the handle screw, and gently pry off the handle. If the handle is stuck, tap and pry on one side, then the other or use a handle puller.

Step 2

Loosen and remove the retaining or packing nut with an adjustable wrench. A sleeve may also cover the stem. Grab the stem with a pair of pliers and pull it out.

Step 3

If water drips out the spout when the handle is turned off, you probably need to replace a worn washer. Remove the screw and install an exact replacement. If this doesn't solve the problem, or if washers wear out quickly, replace the seat.

Step 4

If water seeps out below the handle, replace a worn O-ring or any other rubber part on the stem. Gently pry out the O-ring with a knife or small screwdriver. Rub silicone grease on the replacement O-ring and reinstall it.

Step 5

If the seat is pitted or scratched, remove it using a seat wrench. Install an exact replacement. If you can't find a new seat, you may be able to grind a worn seat to smooth it.


Comments (9)
7541378326
chrislboilard wrote:

my faucet spins all the way around. the water stops at the regular spot but you have to fiddle with it to get it just right. its old and cheap. i tried to replace washer and couldn't find one to fit. what do i need to do?

12/19/2010 08:32:08 AM Report Abuse
tprundzieher1 wrote:

looking for bathtub shower faucet

10/19/2010 04:04:11 PM Report Abuse
hardware273 wrote:

I have a leaky "SILCOX VALVE"---shut off for outside water source. Do you have to remove the complete 12" long valve in order to change the washer or can it be removed by removing the valve handle and the retaining nut. Plese advise

1/21/2010 01:51:47 PM Report Abuse
rarjona wrote:

Nothing that I have read has told me how to reinstall a compression faucet valve! It tells you how to take it apart but not how to put it back to gether.

1/3/2010 08:38:07 PM Report Abuse
paulaeileen1 wrote:

Repairing Pipes under sink, replace?

1/3/2010 06:54:38 PM Report Abuse
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