If your outdoor faucet leaks, it's a good idea to repair it as soon as possible. Even small drips quickly add up, increasing your water bill and wasting a valuable community resource. If the cause of the leak is a worn washer in the faucet, you can easily repair this in less than 30 minutes. If the faucet needs to be replaced, you may have a slight complication if it is sticking out from the side of a brick house and the connection is behind the wall, where you can't see it
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Things you need
- Phillips screwdriver
- Slip-lock pliers
- Thread lubricant
- 2 pipe wrenches
- Propane torch
- Pipe cutter
- Wire brush
- Lead-free solder
- Copper pipe
- Copper coupling
Turn off the water to the faucet. If you don't have an inline shutoff valve controlling the faucet supply line, turn off the main water supply to the house. Open the faucet and let the water drain.
Unscrew the screw holding the handle with a Phillips screwdriver and take the handle off. Grip the nut just behind the handle with slip-lock pliers and turn it counterclockwise to remove it. If the nut won't turn, spray thread lubricant into the threads, wait five minutes, and try again.
Grip the end of the valve stem with the pliers, after the nut is off, and pull the valve straight out. Turn it over, and inspect the washer on the other end. If it is worn, unscrew the Phillips screw holding it and replace it with a new one. Slide the valve back in, screw the nut back on and tighten it with the pliers, then replace the handle.
Replace the faucet if it is excessively corroded or you suspect the valve seat may be damaged or cracked. If it is screwed on, grip it with one pipe wrench while you grip the pipe to which it is attached with another. Hold the pipe steady while you unscrew the faucet. If the connection is buried inside the wall, you won't be able to hold the pipe, and you may end up unscrewing a connection behind the wall. If so, pull the pipe out, remove the faucet and screw on a replacement, then insert the pipe back into the wall and screw it back into the fitting.
Replace a faucet soldered onto copper pipe by holding it with slip-lock pliers while you heat the joint with a propane torch. When the solder melts, pull the faucet off. If the joint is buried in the wall, de-solder the nearest joint you can behind the wall and pull the pipe out through the hole in the brick. If there is no joint, cut the pipe behind the wall with a pipe cutter and pull it out.
Solder on a new valve by cleaning the end of the pipe with a wire brush, spreading flux on it and on the inside of the new valve fitting, and slipping the valve onto the pipe. Heat the joint with a torch until the flux bubbles, then touch the end of a coil of lead-free solder to it and let the solder melt into the joint and fuse the valve to the pipe.
Cut a length of copper pipe that will reach the pipe inside the wall, if you had to cut the pipe or de-solder a joint there. Join it to the pipe with a copper coupling and solder the joints. Solder the new faucet onto the end that sticks out of the wall.
Tips and warnings
- It is possible to remove and replace a damaged valve seat inside a spigot, but a replacement valve is probably less expensive than the tool you would need to do it.
- Ensure there is no water running in the pipe before you attempt to solder or de-solder a copper pipe joint. The water will vaporise and prevent the pipe from getting hot enough to melt the solder.
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