A dripping faucet can be an annoying and expensive problem. While many homeowners in San Antonio have a leaky faucet in their homes, far fewer homeowners will take the time to address this problem. Even better than dealing with a leaky faucet is taking steps to prevent a leaky faucet in the first place. At the end of the day, though, it’s important to understand how to both prevent and repair a leaky faucet so that you can take care of the problem quickly without having to pay a lot of money for wasted water. At Beyer Plumbing, we’ve fixed a lot of leaky faucets, and we have these tips to help homeowners take on the job themselves.
The Parts of a Faucet
No matter its style, every faucet has a few basic parts that enable it to deliver water to your sink. While the external parts, such as the spout and handle, are important to proper operation, the internal parts are the ones that usually cause issues. Typically, these parts include a ball valve, O-rings, a cartridge valve, small springs, and the aerator. The ball valve helps control the temperature of the water in a single-handle faucet. O-rings help seal certain parts in the faucet where one part of the faucet transitions to another part. Cartridge valves help control the pressure of the outgoing water so that you can control the water’s intensity. Every one of these components can fail in one way or another and lead to a leak.
One common problem that we encounter at Beyer Plumbing is internal corrosion in faucets. This is especially common if you have hard water that has a lot of dissolved minerals. The ball valve, often made of metal, can corrode slightly and allow small amounts of water to come through when the faucet is turned off, resulting in a leak. These same dissolved minerals can wear out O-rings, making them stiff until they crack when you move a handle on the faucet. With no protection between the internal components in your faucet, you’re likely to soon notice a leak. Leaks caused by a bad O-ring typically happen around the base of the faucet, whereas ball valve issues typically manifest themselves in a leak from the spout.
Another problem that could happen if you have hard water is mineral buildup inside the faucet. At Beyer Plumbing, when we go into a home and see mineral buildup around the base of a faucet or around the aerator, we know there’s a pretty good chance that the inside of the faucet looks just as bad. The problem with mineral buildup is that it can put excess water pressure on parts that aren’t designed to handle high-pressure water. Over time, this can force the water past O-rings and other gaskets, even when the gaskets and O-rings are in good condition. Another sign of mineral deposits inside your faucet is a reduced flow of water coming out of the spout. Depending on the location of the mineral deposits, you may be able to clean them out by removing the faucet from the sink and using a narrow brush inside the faucet.
Cartridge valves have the difficult job of holding back the majority of the water pressure coming to the faucet so that you’re left with a manageable pressure coming out of the spout. The strain of normal operation can cause cartridge valves to fail. You’ll often notice a problem with a cartridge valve when you aren’t able to turn your water off completely when you move the handles. You’ll end up having to press harder and harder on the handles to stop leaks until you can no longer get the leaks to stop at all. Depending on the issue you’re having with the valve, you may be able to repair the valve instead of completely replacing it.
Check Your Water Pressure
Another basic cause of faucet leaks is one whose solution is a bit more complex. If you have excessively high water pressure coming into your home, many of the plumbing fixtures in your home are likely to develop leaks eventually. Unusual noises coming from your plumbing supply pipes and leaky plumbing fixtures are both signs that your home’s water pressure might be too high. Beyer Plumbing can install a water pressure meter on the main water supply line coming into your home to confirm this condition. If the water pressure exceeds what is normal, we can install a pressure-reducing valve so that you can enjoy more reliable performance from your home’s plumbing system.
Evaluate Water Hardness
Hard water can cause a variety of problems in a home. You can measure the hardness of your home’s water using a testing kit available at most stores. Once you determine that you have hard water, your best course of action is to install a water softener. Removing dissolved minerals will help prevent wear and tear on your home’s supply lines, drain lines, and plumbing fixtures. In addition, most homeowners report feeling cleaner after showers when there are fewer dissolved minerals in their home’s water supply, making a water softener a great investment.
Keep Your Faucet Dry
A simple action you can take to avoid a leaking faucet is to keep the exterior of the faucet dry. Throughout the course of a day, water tends to build up around the base of the faucet when you wash your hands, brush your teeth, and take care of other cleaning needs. This accumulated water can lead to corrosion of the seal that prevents leaks around the base of the faucet. You’ve likely seen faucets that have small bits of metal missing. This is almost entirely caused by corrosion from water sitting on the faucet’s surface. Wiping a faucet down doesn’t take much time and can keep your faucet looking great for many years.
Stop Water at the Source
If you have a faucet that’s in a rarely used bathroom or other location, we recommend turning the water off at the local shut-off valves until you need to use the sink again. Taking the time to do this will prevent the faucet from holding back water pressure for long periods of time without any user interaction. Just like any other mechanical device, when you don’t use a faucet for a long time, the internal components can become brittle and stiff, leading to leaks when you do go to use the faucet. If there is no water in the faucet when you’re not using it, though, you won’t have to worry as much about these issues.
Keeping Faucets Leak-Free
At Beyer Plumbing, we want to help our customers save money by saving water. That’s why we offer faucet repair and replacement, leak detection, water heater installation, drain cleaning, and much more. We’ve been in business for over 30 years, and the people of this community love our constant commitment to excellence and personal service. These commitments consistently earn us five-star customer reviews. Contact us today to learn more about taking care of plumbing problems in your home.