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The Kitchen Faucet is Leaking at the Base, What Should I Do?

The continuous drip of a leaky faucet may be annoying because you may notice the noise throughout your home and this is especially true at night. Aside from this, you may think that a leaking kitchen faucet is not a big deal and you can live with the annoyance. But, it’s important to realize that the faucet will be releasing a larger volume of water than you may imagine. According to a study released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 3,000 gallons of water can be released annually by a leaky faucet. This loss of water will have a major impact on your water bills and fixing it should be a priority. In this article, we will take a closer look at this problem and offer some helpful advice on how to fix that leaky kitchen faucet.

Faucets Leaking Water from the Spout

Before we look at the base of the faucet, it’s helpful to understand some facts about water leaks. When a faucet is leaking from the spout the most common cause is the presence of hard water particulates and sediment. But, there are two common types of faucet spout leaks, they are: constant and temporary.

  • Constant Faucet Leaks: These water leaks will persist even if the sink is not-in-use. The likely cause is the accumulation of dirt, sediment, and minerals that are lodged in the cartridge or sink valve. Gradually, this buildup of material will wear the pipes, the faucet will be unable to shut-off the water flow, and dripping will continue.
  • Temporary Faucet Leaks: These water leaks typically occur when the affected sink is being used. This is the most common type of faucet leak and the cause is usually a dirty or worn O-ring. This is the seal at the base of the faucet, there are other types of seals but the rubber O-ring is the most common.

Now that you understand the differences between faucet constant and temporary spout and base water leaks it’s time to look at some common signs of this problem.

4 Signs That Your Kitchen Faucet is Leaking

This may seem like a strange thing to examine, but there are four less obvious signs of a leaking faucet base. They are:

  1. There are water puddles around the faucet spout when it’s not been used for a while.
  2. The faucet handle needs to be turned tighter to stop the flow of water and this tends to get worse over time.
  3. If you closely track your water utility bills you may notice that they have risen unexpectedly (this can indicate hidden water leaks too).
  4. The usual water dripping noise from the kitchen sink.

If you do notice any of these four signs, it’s time to take action to prevent water damage. Place a cloth or paper towel under the spout and leave it for at least an hour. Check the material when you return, if the fabric or paper is wet then you have a leaky kitchen faucet. If you have some DIY plumbing skills and a basic toolkit, you may be able to fix a faulty O-ring or a cartridge yourself. Let’s look at this process in more detail.

How Do I Fix a Faucet Base Water Leak?

Once you’ve identified the cause and source of the water leak it can be easy to fix if you follow these five simple steps in order:

Step 1: The Faucet Brand is Important

Each faucet brand has detailed instructions for installation and repair that can be very helpful. The model numbers are listed on the manufacturer’s website and it’s a great idea to check this information out before you get started. Many brands even have a detailed sink diagram for your reference which makes part identification easier.

Step 2: Shut-off the Water and Gather Your Tools

Shut-off the water supply, turn the handles off completely, and turn off the water supply valve. Gather the following tools: screwdriver, Allen wrench, large slip-joint pliers, and some old towels to mop up messes. Then cover the drain holes to prevent small loose parts from entering the drain.

Step 3: Take the Faucet Apart

Take the faucet apart carefully, keep track of the parts and take some pictures to refer to later. Keep the parts in a safe place and lay them out in the order you removed them. When it comes time to reassemble the faucet you will appreciate your efforts.

Step 4: Inspect the Parts and Replace Them

As you remove the parts, inspect them carefully for dirt, grime, cracks, and treats. The O-ring seal may be damaged and this is the most common reason for a leaky faucet spout. Dirty parts can be cleaned with white vinegar to remove the mineral content and then rinsed with warm water. If the parts are broken or they cannot be cleaned it’s time to visit the hardware store to get a replacement. Don’t guess about the parts, they need to fit, get some help at the store to ensure that you get what you need. Again, if you know the brand and model number of your sink it will be easier to get the replacement parts.

Step 5: Reassembly

Once you’re happy with the cleaning and/or you’ve got the replacement parts, it’s time to reassemble the faucet. Any images, video or the sink diagram will be handy to make sure everything fits together as intended. After tightening the parts with the Allen wrench, it’s time to turn the water supply on and test the faucet.

In Conclusion

In many cases, identifying and fixing the faucet leak yourself is pretty easy. But, if you’re not confident with tools or you don’t have the time to fix the faucet carefully, it’s time to call a local professional plumber. Water leaks tend to get worse over time and water damage can be expensive to fix. The longer the leak persists, the more water you will lose and this will drive up your water utility bill.