How to repair a compression faucet

Step-by-steps advices to replace a leaking compression faucet.

Tools and materials

  • slip-joint pliers
  • flat-head screwdriver
  • utility knife
  • seat wrench
  • Allen wrench
  • rags
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • faucet repair kit
  • plumber’s grease

Step 1: Remove the handles

  • If a compression-type faucet continues to drip after both handles are turned to the off position, remove both handles to inspect for damage to the stem assemblies.
  • Turn the water shut-off valves under the sink to the off position, then turn the faucet handles to the on position to drain any remaining water.

Step 2: Expose the screw holding the handle

  • If there is a decorative cap on top of the handle, carefully pop it off with a utility knife to expose the screw holding the handle in place.
  • Remove the screw with a Phillips-head screwdriver, and pull off the handle to expose the stem assembly.
  • With the handle out of the way, use slip-joint pliers to remove the retaining nut that holds the stem in place.
 Step 3: Inspect the damage
  • Check the rubber washer on the end.
  • If it looks fine, unscrew the packing nut to see whether there is damage to the O-rings inside.
  • If the washer is damaged, remove the screw, and replace the old washer with a new one.
  • If an O-ring is bad, cut it off with a utility knife, coat a new one with heat-proof grease, and slide the new O-ring into place on the stem, using a flat-head screwdriver as a guide.

An alternative to replacing washers and rings is to replace the entire stem assembly.

Step 4: Check for Rough Spots

If the washer and O-rings look good, use your finger to check for rough spots around the valve seat inside the faucet. If the seat is damaged, the faucet may not make a watertight seal even with new washers. Use a specially made seat wrench to remove damaged seats and replace them.

Step 5: Reassemble the faucet

  • Once repairs are complete, reassemble the faucet: drop in the repaired (or new) stem assembly and tighten the retaining nut with slip-joint pliers.
  • Replace the handles and secure them with their screws.
  • Replace the decorative cap.

Turn the water supply back on, and check the hot- and cold-water sides to make sure they both work properly and without drips.


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