Ask Lyle: How to Fix Leaky Faucet

Mobile, AL (WKRG)

Here is a transcript of our segment:

Chad:  Well, Allen Lyle with Today’s Homeowner this is such a frustrating problem I think everyone has experienced this at least once in their bathroom.  What do you do and where do you start with a leaky faucet.

Allen:  Well, the thing about a leaky faucet is this:  many people feel intimidated by any type of plumbing project.

Chad:  Right because if you do something wrong…

Allen:  if you do something wrong

Chad:  You could make a big mess

Allen:  But let me tell you this, it’s a lot easier than you think and you’re going to be a hero because you’re going to save a ton of money with a single visit by a plumber.  So the first place you start is trying to find out if the problem is coming from the hot water side or the cold water side.

Chad:  Right, one or the other

Allen:  in most sinks you just look underneath, you’re going to turn some handles for the shutoff valve.  Shut off one at a time.  If the leak stops, then you’ve found the right one, alright?  Once you determine if it’s the right or left side go ahead and shut off both of them.  You don’t have to but I recommend it only because you never know.

Chad:  Just in case

Allen:  Just in case shut off the water completely and then open up your faucets that allow the pressure to be removed from the lines alright?  Now in this case we’ve got levers.  If you look under here Chad you see levers usually have a little set screw.

Chad:  They are very tiny but they are there, how do you go about getting it?

Allen:  Allen wrench,

Chad:  ah your wrench

Allen:  my wrench, it is my wrench, if you use this at home just drop a penny our studios that’s all I ask.  Now I’m going to loosen up the set screw pull up the handle. Now if this were handles that have the H and the C on it, those are just caps, you pop the caps off and there’s a Philips screw inside.

Chad:  Let’s say someone at home has a different faucet set up, they’ve got the one in the center, the single yea, what do you do in that case.

Allen:  Same thing, if you just look on the back of that one single lever there’s usually a set screw in the back just loosen that screw and the whole handle pulls up and you’re going to find the same thing we’re about to find here.

Chad:  alright so what are we going to look at here?

Allen:  Here we’ve got the stem that’s here but it’s locked in place.  We’ve got a locking nut and washer right here.  So we have to remove this.  So usually you would take channel locks or adjustable pliers.

Chad:  when you’re using something like that I’d be worrying about scratching the finish,

Allen:  good observation, a lot of people will and I’ve seen people take rags wrap it around there.  That works sometimes, but the rags they’re soft too, and it’s just going to spin, what I recommend just believe or not just a fat rubber band.  If you take a rubber band and wrap it around the edge of that.  In fact, if you want to pull that for me chad,

Chad:  Hold this for you

Allen:  I’m going to come in behind you

Chad:  Okay, don’t pinch my fingers, I need them

Allen:  just turn it slightly, once we do that

Chad:  a slight turn will allow you to do it by hand

Allen:  Right once that’s off I’m going to let you grab the stem, grab the top, there you go.  Now here we’ve got three different areas that can cause the leak.  One there could just be trash in the lines, debris, if that’s the case you gotta do this very carefully, while this is off go back under the sink on that side and gently turn the water on, don’t turn it full blast you’re going to have a geyser.  Just a little bit so it starts flowing out; it allows that trash to flow out

Chad:  alright, other option if it’s not trash,

Allen:  could be a washer, now in some stems right on the bottom here right where you’re holding is a washer, see we don’t have one, but a lot of the stems today have washers, little bit of a deception though if you look inside chad, you’ll see

Chad:  There’s a little rubber grommet in there

Allen:  so what happens you’ve done this before I’ll bet you.  When you’ve got a leak you turn off, still leaking so you crank it more, crank it harder and harder.  What’s happening you’re actually damaging the washer.  So all you have to do is look at the bottom of this and you’ve got some indentations there.  It’s one screw you take it off and replace the washer. 25 cents

Chad:  And if it’s not trash, the stem or the washer just take that to the hardware store and replace it all in all how much time and effort?

Allen:  talk about in the worst case scenario if you’re an utter novice 30 minutes tops to do this

Chad:  Piece of cake Allen Lyle with today’s homeowner, thank-you so very much for joining us, sir.

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