If you're a homeowner, you know there's nothing quite as annoying as the ""drip ... drip ... drip"" of a leaky bathroom or kitchen faucet. But did you know most dripping faucet issues are actually pretty easy to fix yourself? Depending on the type of faucet you have (there are four: compression, cartridge, ball and ceramic disk), here are three things to look for as soon as your fixture starts to drip:
1. The washer
If your faucet has two separate handles that loosen and tighten to turn on the hot and cold water, your faucet has a compression valve. Compression faucets are the only type that uses washers, but these washers are actually one of the most common causes of dripping - they can corrode, become damaged or even just not be installed properly. If you have a compression faucet, try replacing the washers in each handle first - this may fix the problem.
2. The O-ring
In many faucets, including cartridge and compression models, O-rings are installed within the handles to create a waterproof seal. When the O-rings become damaged or loose, that seal can break, causing a leak near the handle. If you have a leaking handle, try replacing the O-ring first - just make sure you buy the right size or the new part will be just as non-functional as the old one.
3. The cartridge
Cartridge faucets can have one or two handles, so they're most easily distinguishable by how they feel to operate - turning the handle or handles is a bit smoother and easier than a compression or ball faucet. When cartridge faucets are dripping, it's often necessary to replace the entire cartridge valve within them. New cartridges cost about $10-15, depending on where you live, and they are relatively easy to install.
Remember that if you don't feel comfortable fixing a leaky kitchen faucet or bathroom faucet yourself, it's always a good idea to call a local plumber for help!