Project Guide

How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

Fix a Leaky Faucet-Shut Off the Water
Shut off water
  • Twist the valve under your sink to turn off the water supply valve or valves. If there aren’t individual shutoff valves under the sink, shut off the water supply for the house.
  • Turn on the faucet and leave open, allowing the remaining water in the line to empty into the sink.

Tip: Insert a sink stopper or cover the sink opening with a towel to prevent any tools from falling down the drain as you make your repairs.  

Remove the Handle
Remove the set screw and handle

How you remove the handle depends on your faucet type:

  • If there is a set screw behind the handle, insert a hex key or Allen wrench into the screw and turn it to remove.
  •  If the handle has a top screw cover, pry it off with a flat screwdriver and set aside. Then, use a Phillips head screwdriver to loosen the screw underneath the cover.
  • Pull the handle free.

Tip: Insert a sink stopper or cover the sink opening with a towel to prevent any tools from falling down the drain as you make your repairs.

Remove the Cartridge
Remove the Cartridge or Existing Packing
  • Using a crescent wrench, loosen the packing nut in the handle assembly, then remove and set aside.
  • Gently pull the cartridge straight up and out of the assembly.
  • On some models of faucet you may have to remove the cartridge with a specialized tool, which will be indicated on manufacturer’s instructions.
Install New Cartridge
Cleaning the handle area before installing a new cartridge.
  • Clean and dry the area around the handle and all the parts with a cloth.
  • Inspect the O-rings around the housing. Replace any that look damaged or worn.
  • Cartridges come in many shapes and sizes, and the easiest way to find the right replacement part is to know the name of the faucet’s manufacturer and the faucet’s model number. If you’re not sure, take the old cartridge you’re replacing to the store so you can use a reference guide to match it to the exact cartridge you need.
  • Insert a new cartridge, making sure it is aligned correctly.
Reattach Faucet Handle
Reattach the Packing Nut and Handle Cap
  • Reattach the packing nut and tighten with a crescent wrench; be careful not to overtighten. 
  • Reattach the handle with the set screw. Replace the screw cover, if required. 
  • Turn your water line back on, remove any debris or towels from your sink, and test out your faucet. 
  • Run both hot and cold water through your faucet few for a few minutes to ensure your aerator isn’t clogged. 
  • If you find that your faucet is still leaking, it may be time to call an expert. Speak to an associate at your local Home Depot or call your local plumber. 

Tip: The aerator is the piece that screws onto the end of the faucet spout. It can be easily removed and cleaned if buildup is hindering continuous water flow.