Fixing a Two-Handle Washer Faucet

Fixing a Two-Handle Washer FaucetMost older two-handle faucets have a rubber washer that is compressed against a valve seat to stop the water flow.

After a while, the washer wears out and allows water to pass between it and the valve seat.

Fixing such a leak is easy. Turn the water off from below the fixture or at the main shut-off valve.

1. Remove screw cover and handle screw: There is usually a decorative cover in the center of the handle which hides the handle screw. Use a screwdriver to pry off this cover. Then remove the screw and handle.

2. Remove packing nut and stem: Use an adjustable wrench or a channel-lock pliers to remove the large packing nut (turn it counterclockwise) at the top of the faucet body.

Then twist out (counterclockwise) the valve stem. If it is stuck, put the handle back on to give you a better grip on the stem.

3. Replace washer: Look at the end of the stem that fits into the faucet. You should see a brass screw holding the old washer in place. (If there is no screw, just a rubber washer, then you probably have a diaphragm-type faucet.)

Remove the screw and the old washer.

The washer is either flat or beveled but sometimes this is difficult to determine.

Both types are squashed out of shape as they wear out, so the washers can be difficult to identify. If you can’t tell what type of washer you need, look into the top of the faucet – the first opening you see is the valve seat.

If its lip is angled, you need a beveled washer; otherwise purchase a flat-type washer.

Take the stem and old washer to your hardware store or home center and buy replacement washers.

They are sold in kits that contain a variety of sizes and extra stem screws.

Replace the washer and brass stem screw, then rub some petroleum jelly or light grease on the stem threads and thread the stem into the faucet body. Replace the packing nut and handle.

Turn on the water and test. If the water still leaks, the valve seat needs to be refaced.

This is not difficult but you need a special tool, so consult a plumbing manual, check this website or seek professional help.

And while you’re at it, make sure there is no water damage. Check to make sure water hasn’t leaked behind the cabinets or under the flooring if you don’t have a tile floor.

Water damage can be very costly and it’s important to have it checked ASAP. One company that does this full time is Water Damage Doctor out of Texas. I’ve used them and they’re professional and reasonably priced.

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