A leaky faucet may seem like a minor plumbing issue, but it can be quite annoying. In addition, it can waste a significant amount of water and drive up your utility bills. Even for a small leak, the loss of water from a malfunctioning faucet can be up to 3 gallons a day. Major leaks can make you lose 30 gallons of water a day. The most common cause of a leaky faucet is the wear and tear of its internal components over time. However, certain other factors can also contribute to the problem. The timely repair of a dripping faucet can help prevent the unnecessary waste of a precious resource and help you avoid unforeseen utility expenses.
A variety of reasons can cause a faucet to leak. Here are the usual suspects.
A broken washer is possibly the most common cause of a dripping faucet. This problem occurs in compression faucets. A washer is one of the components that is exposed to the highest rate of wear and tear. It rests against the valve seat, and when the water is turned on, it is pushed back against the valve seat. The repetitive friction causes significant deterioration over time. Another washer issue that could cause a drip from your faucet is if the washer was not installed properly or if it is the wrong size. Both these factors lead to the seal not being watertight. This can cause water to leak out of the faucet body and into the spout even when the faucet is not in use.
If you observe a leak around the base or handles, the reason could be a worn-out O-ring. This problem occurs in cartridge faucets. An O-ring is a small rubber ring or gasket that is attached to the stem screw that keeps the handle in place. If it wears out or loosens, water leaks into the stem and out through the handle when the faucet is not in use. It can cause hot and cold water to mix due to the cartridge not being sealed properly. If the O-ring at the base of the spout is loose or damaged, water oozes out through the base when the faucet is turned on.
Corroded Valve Seat or Cartridge
The valve seat connects the spout to the body of the faucet. The most common reason for a corroded valve seat is exposure to mineral deposits and sediments. Since these are moving parts, scratches due to friction can also damage the valve seat. If the valve seat is removable, a professional plumber will detach it and clean it with a solution to remove hard water deposits. Scratches can be gotten rid of by sanding down the valve seat. For a fixed valve seat, a seat sleeve can be purchased and fitted on top to compensate for the loss of seal from the corroded valve seat. If the extent of the damage is significant, it is better to replace the valve seat. The cartridge regulates the water flow in a single-handle faucet by mixing hot and cold water according to the handle position. A corroded or worn-out cartridge can cause leaks and will need to be replaced.
Sometimes, the leak may occur due to damaged or malfunctioning parts that are outside the faucet but connected to it. One example is a broken pipe. If there is a broken pipe or damaged pipe fitting in the pipes that supply water to the faucet, that could be an external cause for the faucet leaking. Water pressure can also be an external cause. A clear indication that high water pressure is causing the leak is if the faucet drips only at certain times of the day instead of constantly. A leak that occurs at specific handle positions is also a sign that water pressure is the cause. When water pressure is too high, it can create a backup and cause water to leak out through gaps in the faucet setup. This can be a telltale sign of a larger problem waiting to happen. Unusually high water pressure can damage major parts of your plumbing and cause flooding.
At Central Air Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we’ve been serving the residents of the Clackamas area since 2001. Our highly skilled and trained plumbers can handle any requirement you have, including pipe, faucet, toilet or shower repairs or installations. We also repair and replace water heaters and garbage disposals.
In addition to plumbing, we provide heating and cooling services that include the installation, repair and maintenance of furnaces and air conditioners. You can also count on us to perform indoor air quality assessments. Call us today to schedule an appointment.