How to Fix a Leaky Outdoor Faucet

Written by murray anderson
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Sometimes in the spring when you first turn on the water to your outdoor faucet, you may find that it's leaking. Now a leaking outdoor faucet can let a lot of water flow away--and besides the waste of the water--it can make a big mess of your lawn or garden (not to mention that the water could actually end up getting back into your home and make a real mess). Luckily, fixing a leaking outdoor faucet isn't a major problem--and the process is very similar to fixing a tap washer inside the house. Here is how.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Blade/flathead screwdriver
  • Pliers (perhaps)
  • Wooden toothpick
  • Replacement washer

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Figure out where the faucet is leaking. It may be the washer or it could be the faucet itself. Look carefully at where the water is coming from. The faucet cap may have come loose due to temperature changes or simply from turning the water on and off. If the water is coming from around the faucet cap, use your adjustable wrench and tighten the cap; this should stop the water.

  2. 2

    If the faucet cap is tight and the water is coming from the faucet you will need to replace the washer. Start by turning off the water inside the house, either at the shutoff for the outdoor tap or at the main water shutoff in your home.

  3. 3

    Outside, open the tap and allow any water in the tap to drain out.

  4. 4

    Use your screwdriver to remove the screw holding the handle onto the faucet, then remove the handle.

  5. 5

    Use your adjustable wrench to loosen the packing nut behind the handle, then remove the valve stem.

  6. 6

    Use your screwdriver and undo the screw holding the washer onto the end of the valve stem, then remove the washer. You may need to hold the valve stem with a pair of pliers while you get the old washer off.

  7. 7

    Clean the area where the washer sits using a wooden toothpick. This will ensure there isn't any buildup of grit or a small piece of metal interfering with the washer. (Don't us anything metal or you could damage the delicate brass tip and cause another problem.)

  8. 8

    Replace the washer with one the exact same size, replace the screw holding it in place, then insert the valve stem into the faucet and tighten it with your wrench.

  9. 9

    Reinstall the handle and screw.

  10. 10

    Go inside and turn the water on again. Your faucet leak should be gone.

Tips and warnings

  • Put a little silicon lubricant on the threads of the packing nut to make it easier to remove next time.
  • If you have ever replaced a washer on a tap inside the house, the process is virtually the same.
  • It's important that replacement washers be of the same size as the original. Trying to squeeze a slightly larger washer in won't work and your faucet will leak.
  • If your outdoor tap is a frost-free design with a long valve stem, the process is similar. However, be sure to open the valve stem before inserting it into the tap. If you leave the valve closed when inserting it into the tap you could damage the brass threads inside the tap.

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