Faucet Washers, Trick or Treat!
Many people are terrified of dripping faucets, and for good reason; it makes them CRAZY! Knowing that with each drip, with each money wasting drop, the dollars and cents are slowly draining from their bank account. Not to mention, the intimidation that comes with even pondering a way to fix it, well, it's enough to drive someone MAD!!
The reality is that there is no need to be frightened, it's not as difficult as it looks. Plus, most parts for a real fix are so inexpensive that virtually anyone can afford it, and here's how.
For a tub or sink faucet, there will be a couple of water valves located under the basin, or in a space behind the tub there may be a little access door, or perhaps the shut-offs will be in the basement. Turn those both off, then open the offending leaker faucet and allow it to drain.
On most double handle sink fixtures, there will be a pop-off cap, and underneath will be a screw that needs to be taken out. On single handle washerless types, remove the screw at the handle base, then take them off.
Once that is done, there will be a brass or plastic ‘cartridge’ fitting that also needs to be unscrewed and removed. Use locking pliers, correct sized wrench, or, if there are notches on the top, use a screwdriver horizontally to make a t-handle in the notches, and then unscrew. Once pulled out, look on the bottom or sides, you will either see a washer screwed into the bottom, or o-rings along the sides in a washerless faucet.
At this point, if by some chance you have failed to turn off the water supply valves, you will be chillingly horrified as a stream of spouting water turns your sink or bathtub into a custom made fountain, and quite possibly, drench you with an unwanted cold shower! So remember, make sure the water is off, because this scenario is no treat.
Now for the easy part. Dress in your best maintenance costume and proceed down to your neighborhood hardware store, taking the cartridge with you. A helpful attendant will gladly find the correct washers/o-rings that are needed, and you'll be good to go.
Remove the old washers or o-rings, and replace them the exact same way that they came off. But first, and this is an absolute, take some plumbers grease if you have some, or Vaseline, and candy coat--yes, candy coat--the cartridge with the stuff before putting the new washers on. Then, put it all back together the same way it came apart. You'll not only see how easy it goes, but how smoothly the handles turn when it’s all screwed back together.
Therein lies the trick, because doing it yourself, doing it right, and saving money, is the best treat that I know of!
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