Some faucets use rubber diaphragms instead of washers to control the flow of water. If you have this type of faucet, you may have to remove the faucet stem from the faucet body with a pair of pliers. Be sure to wrap the top of the stem with plumbers' joint tape to protect it from the teeth of the pliers. The rubber diaphragm covers the bottom of the stem, and you may have to pry it off with a screwdriver. Make sure the replacement diaphragm fits snugly over the base of the stem before you reassemble the faucet.
Another type of faucet uses a rubber seat ring that acts like a washer. To remove the ring from the stem, hold the end of the faucet stem with pliers while you unscrew the threaded center piece that holds the seat ring in place. Remove the sleeve to insert the new seat ring, but be sure the seat ring's lettering faces the threaded part of the stem.
Cartridge-type stem faucets may have a spring and a rubber washer. To replace these, lift the cartridge out of the faucet body and remove the washer and spring. Insert the new spring and washer, and carefully align the cartridge so it fits correctly into the slots in the faucet body when reassembling it.
There are also faucets with washers that have the faucet seat built into the stem itself. This type of assembly lifts off the base in a removable sleeve, which contains the valve seat. Unscrew the stem nut from the base of the stem and remove the metal washer and the washer retainer, which contains a rubber washer. Insert the new washer -- bevel side up -- into the washer retainer.
One type of faucet doesn't have washers at all. It works by means of two metal discs. Turning the faucet on aligns holes in the discs and allows water to flow through the faucet. If something goes wrong with this type of faucet, the valve assembly usually must be replaced.
Single-lever faucets are easy to fix, too, but there are so many different types that you must buy a specific repair kit for the faucet you have. Generally, a faucet company makes repair kits for its products and includes detailed instructions and diagrams with the replacement parts. The most difficult part of repairing a single-lever faucet may be tracking down the hardware dealer or plumbing supply store that carries the appropriate kit. Once you have the kit, however, you should have little difficulty eliminating the leak. Make sure the water supply is shut off before disassembling the faucet, and follow the kit's instructions carefully.
You can avoid having the teeth of the wrench scar a chrome-plated plumbing fixture during installation or repair by wrapping the fixture with a double layer of plastic electrical tape.
If a dripping faucet is getting on your nerves before the plumber arrives or before you have time to fix it yourself, tie a 2-foot-long string around the nozzle, and drop the string's end into the drain. As the faucet drips, the drops will run silently down the string.
If your problem is noise instead of drips, we have that covered in the following section.
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