We'll take the mystery out of cartridge-type faucets and show you how to fix them yourself. Regardless of where the faucet is leaking, you can make the DIY repair by following the steps in this story. It doesn't take any plumbing expertise, and it'll finally put an end to that annoying leak.
Shut off the water to the sink. Remove the faucet handles. Most are held on by retaining screws under the caps on the top of the handles. Our handles were held on with small Allen screws located under the handle. Then unscrew the large nut that holds the cartridge in.
Pull straight up on the cartridge to remove it. Use pliers if you have to, but be sure to protect the cartridge with tape or a rag. Note the orientation of the cartridge to the notches in the faucet so you can reinstall it the same way. Remove the old seat and spring with a small screwdriver.
Drop the new spring into the recess and push the new seat in with your finger. Spread a thin layer of plumber’s grease around the cartridge. Push the cartridge into the faucet, aligning it with the notches. Then tighten the large retaining nut with the wrench and replace the handles.
They sure don’t make ’em like they used to—and when it comes to faucets, it’s a good thing. In the old days, repairing a leaky faucet could be as simple as replacing a rubber washer, but more likely it involved struggling with corroded screws and stripped valve stems.
New faucets are easy to take apart, and replacement parts are readily available at most hardware stores, home centers and plumbing supply stores. Of course, there are still many different brands and styles, so it’s best to shut the water off, disassemble the faucet, and take the parts along to assure a perfect match.
If your faucet leaks from the spout, replace the seats and springs (Photos 1 – 3). If it continues to drip from the spout after replacing the seats and springs, replace the cartridge, too. If your faucet leaks around the handles, the O-rings on the cartridge are bad. Buy a new kit that includes a new cartridge and O-rings.
Kits containing faucet repair parts are readily available at hardware stores and home centers. We spent $3 for a set of seats and springs that fit both Delta and Peerless faucets. You’ll also need a small tube of plumber’s grease (Photo 3). Leaks usually develop on the hot side, but replace the seats on both hot and cold sides while you’re at it.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
You may also need a new cartridge and O-rings