Repairing Older Faucets

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Stem Compression Faucets

Older home plumbing 1912Older two-handle faucets, have stems that move up and down as the handle is turned.  A rubber washer at the bottom of the stem presses against a seat in the faucet body, says the plumbing of Santa Cruz experts, to seal out water.  If the washer or the seat becomes worn, water seeps through and drips out of the spout.

If water seeps below the handle or the base of the faucet, an O-ring or the packing probably needs to be replaced.

Older and newer models

On older compression faucets, string packing or a packing washer keeps water from oozing out the handle.  On a newer model, an O-ring does the job.  Sometimes handles on older two-handle faucets may get stuck tight.  If tapping and prying with moderate pressure does not remove a handle, avoid the temptation to pry hard – you may crack the handle or the faucet body.

A handle puller grasps the handle from underneath at two sides and slowly draws the handle off the stem.

Use packing on old stems

An older faucet may have a rubber packing washer or string packing under a packing nut.  If water leaks out the handle, clean out the old packing and install a new packing washer, or wrap string packing around the stem and cram it up into the packing nut.

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Scott Duncan

1 Comment

  1. Avatar for Scott Duncan Elsa Anderson on June 29, 2018 at 4:25 am

    I like when you shared some tips here to how to fix an old model faucet with its common issue of leaking in the handle due to the wear and tear of the packing washer. I have the same sentiment in my laundry area where the washer keeps pushing upward while the water is spewing out of the handle. I know this can lead to further damage and costly water bills if I don’t fix it. The problem is, I don’t have the tools and the knowledge to sort it so I’ll call a professional instead to look into it and get this done easily.

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