Stop the drips
Photo 1: Remove the retaining nut
Remove the knob's retaining screw or nut and pull off the knob. Remove the packing nut by turning it counterclockwise. Some models have two nuts to remove.
Photo 2: Remove the stem
Put the knob back on and turn it counterclockwise to remove the valve stem. Some stems don't need to be unscrewed but come straight out with a firm tug.
Photo 3: Replace the washer
Unscrew the rubber washer at the end of the stem and replace it. Put the faucet back together by reversing the previous steps.
In climates where temperatures drop way below freezing, most newer homes have “freeze-proof” faucets. The trouble with these faucets is that water trickles out for a few seconds after the valve is closed. That trickle makes you think the valve is still open, so you turn the faucet handle harder. It doesn't take much of this repeated overtightening to wreck the valve's rubber washer.
Luckily, most of these faucets are almost as easy to fix as they are to damage, and the replacement parts are inexpensive. Your faucet may look a little different from the one we show, but the basic steps will be the same, even if you have an anti-siphon faucet (see photo above). In fact, you can fix most outdoor faucets that aren't freeze-proof the same way.
Photos 1 – 3 show how it's done. Don't forget to shut off the water supply before you get started. Be sure to hold back the faucet when you unscrew the packing nut and later screw it back on (Photo 1). Otherwise, you may unscrew the threaded joint inside the house. If your stem has rubber O-rings on it, replace them as well as the washer. The best way to get the correct O-rings and washer is to take them with you to the hardware store or home center to get an exact match.
A freeze-proof faucet stops the water flow far inside the warm house, so it won't freeze in winter.
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
- Slip joint pliers
- Wrench set
Required Materials for this Project
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.
- Replacement washers