A leaky outdoor faucet will waste gallons of water if not repaired. It also means higher water bills. And a vibrating or squeaking outdoor faucet is just annoying. If you’ve got a leaky or squeaky outdoor faucet (either traditional or frost free), see below for handy outdoor faucet repair tips and how-tos.
Fixing a Leaky Exterior Faucet (Frost Free)
A frost-free outdoor faucet can prevent damage from winter’s freezes and thaws. What’s the difference between standard outdoor faucets and frost-free versions? Frost-free faucets have a flow valve and pipe that is installed inside the wall. Furthermore, the pipe extends through the wall to the inside of the home, where it stays above freezing.
Like fixing a standard outdoor faucet, repairing a frost-free faucet is also simple. The issue may be a loose retaining nut. Or a problem with the vacuum breaker or stem washer assembly.
What You’ll Need
- Outdoor faucet repair kit (for your faucet brand)
- Pliers or adjustable wrench
- 2 flathead screwdrivers
- Phillips screwdriver
- Replacement vacuum breaker parts
- Washer assembly
Step 1 – The easiest and first fix to try – tighten the retaining nut. The retaining nut is located under the handle. Use a wrench or pliers to turn the retaining nut clockwise, until snug. If the faucet still leaks, move on to Step 2.
Step 2 – Turn off the water either at the shut-off valve or at the main streetside valve.
Step 3 – Unscrew the retaining nut by turning it counter-clockwise with a wrench or pliers.
Step 4 – Pull the faucet stem from the housing. You also may need to reinstall the handle and then turn it to remove the faucet stem.
Step 5 – Replace the washer assembly – The washer assembly consists of several small parts. Also make a note of how the parts are put together. You’ll be able to put the new parts on, the right way.
Step 6 – Unscrew the washer assembly. Replace it with a new one from the repair kit. Reassemble the faucet.
Step 7 – Most frost-free outdoor faucets have a plastic cap that covers the vacuum seal. If you see water coming out from under the cap, you have a vacuum seal leak. Pry the cap loose with a pair of flat head screwdrivers.
Step 8 –Remove the retainer – pull out the vacuum breaker.
Step 9 – Clean the retainer and vacuum breaker, and reinstall. If you still see a leak, take the parts to your local hardware store or home center to find matching replacements.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that with any outdoor faucet, you’ll need to remove the hose before cold temperatures set in to keep from damaging your pipes.
Read more detailed information on repairing a leaky frost-free outdoor faucet here.
Fixing a Leaky Outdoor Faucet (Traditional)
Repairing a dripping or leaking outdoor faucet (sometimes called a hose bibb) is usually a simple procedure. The majority of leaks occur just under the faucet handle.
What You’ll Need
- Outdoor faucet repair kit
- Pliers or an adjustable wrench
- Utility knife
Step 1 – Use pliers to tighten the packing nut. It is located directly behind faucet handle. Tighten the nut by turning the pliers clockwise. This should fix the leak. If not, move on to Step 2.
Step 2 – Turn the water off at the shut-off valve or at the main streetside valve located near the property line, curb, or sidewalk. However, if you’re not sure how to shut off the water, ask your city’s water utility department. They can tell you how or they will send out a worker to do it for you.
Step 3 – Remove the packing nut by turning the nut counter-clockwise with pliers.
Step 4 – Pull the faucet handle and the stem from the housing. Find the rubber washer located on the stem end.
Step 5 – Examine the washer for wear or damage. If you notice wear, move on to Step 6.
Step 6 – Remove the rubber washer – remove the holding screw – take out the old washer with a utility knife.
Step 7 – Add a new washer to the stem and reattach the holding screw.
Step 8 – Finally, reassemble the faucet and screw on the packing nut.
The repair steps above should fix most outdoor faucet leaks.
For leaks around the handle, unscrew the handle and remove the top nut (packing nut) with pliers. Locate the packing material inside the nut and remove it. Purchase graphite valve stem packing at the local hardware store. Wrap the packing around the exposed stem. Lastly, tighten the nut down over the packing material and reattach the handle.
Noisy Faucet Repair
If your outdoor faucet makes a loud vibrating sound, the problem could be as simple as replacing a worn rubber washer. Stop a rowdy faucet with this quick faucet repair fix –
What You’ll Need
- Phillips screwdriver
- Wrench set
- Rubber washer
Step 1 – Turn off the water to the outdoor faucet either at the shut-off valve or at the main streetside valve.
Step 2 – Using a wrench, disassemble the faucet by turning the retaining nut counter-clockwise.
Step 3 – Remove the handle and stem assembly. Locate the rubber washer attached to the end of the stem. Remove the worn washer by removing the screw. Lastly, attach a new washer – reassemble the faucet.
Pro Tip – If the washer is in good condition, but the screw is loose, put a drop or two of thread-locking fluid on the screw threads and tighten down.
For more details on fixing a noisy exterior faucet, click here.
Whether your outdoor faucet is leaky, squeaky or just plain annoying, the above outdoor faucet repair fixes will allow you to water your lawn again, in peace and in no time!
Once your outdoor faucet is repaired, you can try out the new Wet & Forget Rapid Application Hose End. All you have to do is connect your garden hose to the attached sprayer on the bottle, and then you can apply Wet & Forget to all of your outdoor surfaces. The hose end sprayer makes it easy to clean moss, mold, mildew, and algae on large surfaces and high elevations. So now you can clean your roof or second story siding without needing to climb up onto a ladder.
For more home repair how-tos and tips, visit here.