There may be many times over the course of your life as a homeowner when knowing how to fix a leaky kitchen faucet can come in handy. A leaky faucet can lose as much as 2,500 gallons of water a year, which can have a big impact on the environment and your wallet.
When to Fix and When to Replace
Before you begin to try to fix your leaking kitchen faucet, make sure that it truly requires repair and not a full replacement. Depending on where the leak is located, the type and age of your faucet and what its warranty is, you may find that one option works better than another.
Age of the Faucet
If your leaking faucet is more than 10 years old, replace it. If it's leaking from one spot, it's more than likely to develop a second leak in a short period of time. Newer faucets use less water in general, which can help pay for their cost over time as well.
Where Is the Leak
If your faucet is dripping, it's more than likely an easy repair. If it's leaking from a spray hose or below the counter, you may want to purchase a replacement instead.
What's the Warranty
Depending on the manufacturer of your faucet, you may find that the leak is covered by the warranty. Some faucets have lifetime warranties for regular use; a call to the manufacturer could get you a free repair kit, a new faucet or a field representative to make that determination for you. If you're not sure if your faucet is under warranty, call the store you purchased it from. They can help you determine the warranty details, or call the company on your behalf.
Fixing a Leaky Kitchen Faucet
Your first step to fixing your leaking kitchen faucet is to figure out what type of faucet you have and where the leak is coming from.
Single Lever Faucets
There are two types of single lever faucets - ball and lever and pull out spray. Ball and lever faucets are the easiest to fix; just purchase a repair kit from your local home improvement store. Take the faucet off the counter and replace each ring, aerator and ball with the corresponding piece in the kit.
Pull out spray faucets use a cartridge that needs to be replaced in the case of a leak. Your best bet in this case is to remove the faucet from the counter and pull the cartridge from the body of the faucet. Take it with you to a plumbing supply store and get an exact replacement. Insert it into the body of the faucet and reattach it to the counter to stop the leak.
Three Piece Faucets
Three piece faucets that have two handles and a spout can leak for two reasons; the cartridges in the handles are worn out or the aerator and O-ring are worn out.
A worn cartridge in the handles will cause a leak because you cannot tighten them enough to fully shut off the water. If you are able to stop the leak with significant force, you will need to replace the faucet. If the handles are totally turned and the faucet is still dripping, purchase a repair kit that contains the new O-ring and aerator to make the repair.
Two Piece Faucets
Two piece faucets that have a single lever and separate spout rarely have problems with the handle. Instead, the cause of leaks most likely occurs due to a worn out O-ring or aerator. Remove the faucet from the counter and replace each piece with the corresponding piece in a faucet repair kit to stop the leak.
Part of learning how to fix a leaky kitchen faucet is getting to know your faucet. Spend some time examining the various parts, looking for screws that will help you take it apart and cleaning any parts that appear coated in hard water deposits. Nearly all repairable leaks can be stopped with a careful eye and a repair kit for the type of faucet you own. Don't hesitate to take the whole faucet with you to a plumbing supply store for help and always remember to shut the water off at the wall before taking the faucet off the counter.
With a little time spent getting to know your kitchen faucet, you'll be able to fix any leaks yourself in no time.