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Faucets have a vital role in the sink, as they are responsible for dispensing water, and thus need to be in working condition all the time. In case of leaks or noises in these faucets, you need to either repair or replace them. Leaky faucets can become a nuisance because of having to mop up all water on the floor, and also because of the amount of water being wasted. The good part is that repairing a faucet is an easy job and you can do it yourself.

Prerequisites
Before beginning, ensure that you:
  • Stop the water supply by closing the tap under the sink.
  • Cover the sink drain with a small piece of cloth, so that parts fall down safely.
  • Decide a place where you can keep the parts when you remove them.
  • Have vinegar on hand. To clean the parts, apply white vinegar on them and wipe them with a scouring pad.
Determine Your Faucet Type
Faucets on sinks are of four types: cartridge, compression, ball, and ceramic disk. Compression faucets have rubber washers which secure the valve. Since these washers wear out easily, they need to be replaced. All the other types do not have rubber washers, but are likely to develop leaks after being used for a while. You will have to either replace the entire assembly or just the O-ring in such cases.

Compression
A common solution for a leaking compression faucet is replacing the worn out rubber washer. For this, you need to take off the decorative cap on the handle and the screw so that the handle comes off easily. With a wrench, remove the packing nut. As you spot the rubber washer, take it off and replace it with a new one. Apply some plumber's grease (non-toxic) on the washer.

Sometimes you may need to replace the O-ring to stop the leakage. As O-rings are available in a variety of sizes with minor variations, it is essential you buy the one which exactly matches yours. Pull the O-ring out and replace it with a new one. Coat it with plumber's grease before fixing it back.

Ball-Type
These are more complicated as they comprise numerous parts, therefore making it difficult to exactly point out the cause of leakage. The best option is to replace every part. Remove the handle by unscrewing the connected set screw. With a pair of pliers, take the collar and cap off. There will be a specific tool to remove the faucet cam in the replacement kit. Use it and pull the rotating ball and the cam washer out. Also, remove the O-ring, springs, and inlet seals.

Follow the instructions in the replacement kit, and fix the new faucet in place. If you want to avoid going through all this trouble, you can simply replace the entire faucet with a new one. It will however, be an expensive choice.

Cartridge
Start by taking the handle off. Do this by removing the decorative cap and the handle screw. The cartridge may be fixed in place with the help of a threaded retaining cap. If there is one, use small pliers to remove it, and simply pull the cartridge out. Take a utility knife and cut old O-rings off. Apply some plumber's grease on the new O-ring and reassemble the whole faucet.

In case you want to replace the cartridge with a new one, purchase the one which exactly matches the existing one. Ensure that the stem end where the handle joins also matches.

Ceramic-Disk
If your faucet is of this type, you will find the set screw after pushing back the handle. Unscrew it to remove the handle. Now, carefully take the escutcheon cap off, mounting screws to pull the cylinder out. The neoprene seal can be taken off with a blunt screwdriver. Wipe off all the cylinder openings with white vinegar and if you notice any damaged seals, replace them. To change the entire cylinder, simply place the new one in its place. After replacement, reassemble the entire faucet.

Repair Cost

The repair costs vary from place to place and also depend upon the type of faucet. If you are doing the job yourself, you will only need to spend on the new parts while you save on labor charges. Parts and new assemblies are relatively inexpensive. Labor charges, on the other hand, can be much higher.

The process should take only 15-20 minutes of your time. If you are uncomfortable doing the job yourself, call a professional plumber.