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Faucet repairs for beginners

A leaky faucet does not necessarily require a visit from the plumber; these repairs are easy even for the mechanically challenged

Just like any other household fixture, faucet mechanisms do not last forever. Sooner or later, you'll notice leakage around the base of the handle or see the telltale drips that never stop.

It is time to get out the screwdriver, turn off the water supply, and take a look inside. First, though, you should know what kind of faucet you're facing.

If the faucet has a single handle, it is either a ball faucet or a cartridge faucet. If it's a two-handled model, it is a compression faucet.

Compression faucets work by pairing a washer and metal seal: separated, the water flows; pressed together and the water stops Ball, cartridge, and ceramic faucets are also called washerless.

Before you begin taking out screws, turn off the water. If it's a kitchen faucet, the handles will be underneath the sink - both hot and cold. If you're in the bathroom or working on a wet bar and do not see any handles, turn off the water at the main valve. After you have done that, open the valves to drain excess water.

Begin by loosening screws. Ball faucets may require an Allen wrench. For decorative handles, you will need to pry the tops off to reach the screws. You may only have to replace the seals to complete this repair.

To inspect a cartridge-type faucet, you'll need to take off the spout and pull off the cartridge clip. Next, you can remove the cartridge and have a look. You will either need to replace the entire cartridge or just the O-ring.

If it's a compression faucet, most likely you will need to replace washers on both the hot water and cold water.

As you take the faucet parts out, keep them in order, so you can replace them later.

Here's what makes our lives easier when making faucet repairs. Depending on which type of faucet you have, pack up the cartridge, the washers, or the seals in a plastic baggie and head to the local home improvement store. The key here is to find a knowledgeable person at the store who can look at your parts and tell you exactly what you need. They should be able to answer any questions. If they can't, don't hesitate to find someone who can.

The home improvement store should have free brochures on faucet anatomy and what to expect when you take it apart. You can also get detailed diagrams on the Internet that will walk you through the process. This article is just to get you headed in the right direction. Don't panic when you get home. Just take your time; replace the worn out parts with the new ones and add the screws. Turn on the water and check for leaks. Chances are, the problem will be solved..



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