Learning to repair single lever kitchen faucets is a great way to stop leaks, save water and money. Learn when to repair and when to replace to get the longest use out of a faucet.
Replace or Repair Single Lever Kitchen Faucets
When the kitchen faucet suddenly stops working properly, or begins to drip into the sink even when it's shut off, you may find yourself wondering if you should be calling a plumber. After all, the kitchen faucet gets a lot of day-to-day use and if it's not working right, this can really put a crimp in your day. Not to mention the fact that over the course of a year, a dripping faucet can waste up to 2,500 gallons of water just by dripping a single drop a second. So when should you tackle the faucet repair yourself, when should you call a plumber, and when should you just buy a new faucet?
When the Faucet Is Old
If the faucet is more than ten years old, it's time to replace it. Chances are at this point if something has caused it to leak in one spot, it's going to start leaking in another soon enough, and the cost of the replacement parts will end up equaling the cost of a new faucet.
When the Faucet Is Leaking Below the Sink
If water is dripping from the spout or from the base of the faucet onto the counter, you can tackle these repairs yourself. If the faucet is dripping below the counter however, it's best to call a professional to find the cause.
When the Faucet Is Under Warranty
Some faucet companies such as KWC or Waterstone, have pretty impressive warranties on their products. In some cases, a quick phone call might score you some free replacement parts, a brand new faucet, step-by-step repair instructions or a field representative at your door to troubleshoot the problem. Not sure if it's under warranty? Call the store you purchased the faucet from; they can call the manufacturer on your behalf.
Troubleshooting the Problem
If the faucet is only a few years old, and seems to have a minor issue that doesn't warrant a call to a plumber, you can probably repair it yourself. The first step in repairing the problem is to find its cause. Below are the most common problems and repairs for single lever kitchen faucets.
Water Dripping From the Spout or at the Base
Water that is dripping slowly from the spout or leaking from the base onto the counter can be caused by a few things. First, take a look at the type of faucet. There are two kinds of single lever kitchen faucets, those with pull out sprays and a cartridge, and those that use a rubber seat and ball control.
You can purchase a kit to repair single lever kitchen faucets with ball control at your local hardware store. The kit will contain everything you'll need from a new O-ring to a new rubber seat, and it should include the tools to take the faucet apart.
You'll have to take apart the faucet, and replace the worn out parts such as the washer, or the seat with the new ones in the kit. Look for rubber pieces that are cracked and dried, or metal pieces that have corroded, and then replace them with the matching pieces inside the kit. Just be sure to purchase a kit geared toward a homeowner, and not commercial supply or you may find yourself with 15 O-rings and no seats.
If the faucet has a pull out spray, you'll probably need to replace its cartridge, or the internal mixer to stop a drip. Use a hex key to take the faucet off of its stem, or the piece coming up through the counter, and pull the cartridge loose from inside the body of the faucet. This may take considerable force, particularly if hard water has built up and caused it to stick. Take the cartridge directly to a plumbing supply house to get an exact replacement; each faucet manufacturer can use a wildly different cartridge type so you'll want to get the right match.
If the cartridge is really stuck, or you're not sure how to get it free, just take the whole faucet along with you and ask someone at the plumbing supply to pull it free and show you how to insert the new one.
Once you have the new cartridge, just push it back inside the body of the faucet where you pulled the old one from, and reattach the faucet to its stem.
Pull Out Spray Malfunction
Many single lever kitchen faucets now have a pull-out spray head to keep the counter clutter free while providing easy clean-up at the sink. Included in many of these faucets is a switch at the top that can either be pressed and held, or pushed into one position or another to get the desired water flow and spray.If this diverter switch isn't working properly, chances are that it's clogged. If the clog is minor, you can soak the entire head in a bowl of white vinegar and then run hot water through the faucet. If this doesn't free the clog, or the switch is just not working at all, you can unscrew the hose from the head and purchase a replacement at a plumbing supply store.
Most faucet manufacturers are also willing and able to send you a fax or a PDF of the faucet's anatomy to help make the repair go smoother. A quick call to customer service can save you a lot of time and money, so don't hesitate to place it.
Repairing Your Own Faucet Can Save Money
Learning to repair single lever kitchen faucets is something that can serve you well over the years. Tackle problems as they surface, and ask for help when it's needed and know that you're saving money, water and time with each fix.