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How to Fix a Leaky Faucet: Frost-Proof Faucet

A leaking frost-proof faucet can waste a lot of water, but fixes are simple, whether the problem is the faucet stem washer assembly, the vacuum breaker, or just a loose retaining nut.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

How to Fix a Leaky Faucet: Frost-Proof Faucet

A leaking frost-proof faucet can waste a lot of water, but fixes are simple, whether the problem is the faucet stem washer assembly, the vacuum breaker, or just a loose retaining nut.

Start with the retaining nut, then look for other problems

Leaky, dripping exterior faucets not only waste water but also dump it next to the foundation, right where you don't want it. Luckily, they're easy to fix. If you have a frost-proof faucet like the one we show here, check out these fixes for the most common problems.

If the faucet leaks from around the handle just when the water is turned on, the stem packing may be leaking. In some cases, you can fix this by simply tightening the retaining nut that's under the handle. Remove the screw in the center of the handle and pull the handle off. Try tightening the nut slightly (Photo 1). You'll have to experiment to see which direction to turn the nut, since some faucets have reversed threads that tighten counterclockwise.

If simple tightening doesn't solve the problem, you'll have to remove the faucet stem (Photo 2) and replace the packing gasket. Turn off the water to the exterior faucet by locating the valve inside the house and closing it (or the main water valve). Buy a repair kit that matches your faucet brand and use the packing from the kit. If your faucet still leaks, the stem may be leaking and you should replace the faucet.

If your faucet leaks out of the spout when it's turned off, the washer is bad. On frost-proof faucets, the washer is located on the end of the long faucet stem. Remove the handle and nut (Photo 1) and pull the stem from the faucet (Photo 2). You may have to turn the stem to “unscrew” it before it'll come out. Getting the faucet apart is the hard part. After that, you simply replace the old parts with new ones. Pay close attention when you take the parts off (or snap a photo) so you can put the new ones back the same way. Snap off or unscrew the washer assembly and replace it (Photo 3). Then reassemble the faucet in the reverse order. If you find that the faucet starts leaking again after a short time, the valve seat is worn and you should replace the entire frostproof faucet. If the faucet is attached with threads, you can simply turn off the water, unscrew the faucet and replace it with one that's the same length. If it's soldered on, you'll have to break out your torch and soldering tools.

Most frost-proof faucets have a built-in vacuum breaker located on top of the faucet (Photo 4). If you see water dribbling out from under the cap when the water is running, it's leaking. Photos 4 and 5 show how to replace a leaking vacuum breaker. Some repair kits include the parts for this. If not, you'll have to purchase them separately.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • 4-in-1 screwdriver
    • Adjustable wrench
    • Slip joint pliers

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Washer assembly
    • Replacement vacuum breaker parts

Comments from DIY Community Members

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1 - 5 of 5 comments
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August 04, 4:22 PM [GMT -5]


This product by the name Fabulous Blaster available at home depot comes in a 11 oz spray can. Spray the rusted area and follow directions on the can. I had to spray the ares 4-5 times 3 to 4 hrs apart. finally i had to soak the area and leave it over night. It is hard to soak it because the liquid just drips down.what i did i packed the area with tissue covered with plastic wrap, did work after i had to soak it couple times.
Good luck

July 29, 7:31 PM [GMT -5]

So I'm trying to fix my leaky faucet. I bought a Mannsfield parts kit to replace all the internals but I can't even get that far. The screw holding the handle on is seized up. I have tried to use a screwdriver, socket, and a channel locks to hold everything while loosening the screw but no luck. All it does is spin, and not easily.

Does anyone have any suggestions for this? I'm not opposed to replacing the whole spigot if need be but I don't want to damage any plumbing in the wall by wrenching on the unit until I have to.


May 03, 11:54 PM [GMT -5]

I have an ASEE 1019 faucet that leaks from the top, I believe it is called the anti-siphon valve. Is this easy to fix? I am not sure which brand it is, but it has a large "M" on the side. Any tips you have will be greatly appreciated!

February 03, 4:24 PM [GMT -5]

Today I tried to fix the ASSE 1019 faucet. Changed the 2 washers put it back together and it doesn't leak anymore lol bill was quite a bit more than usual. Unfortunately it doesn't work now hahaah, but no leaks, don't understand it, thought I put it back the same way (thought it was right way), but won't work now. Any suggestions from anyone?

September 03, 11:35 AM [GMT -5]

In addition to the washer at the end of the stem, there may be o-ring within the housing of the stem which may need replacing. I have fogotten how I got to this o-ring on my NIBCO faucet but it was not difficult. NIBCO customer service sent me the replacement washers free of charge. Impressive.

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