A dripping faucet isn’t just a source of annoyance and lost sleep. It’s a tremendous waste of water. That slow but steady leak may not seem like much, but all those drips and drops add up much faster than you’d think. In fact, the EPA states that a faucet that drips once per second wastes 3,000 gallons per year. Here’s what causes those leaks, and when it’s time to call a professional plumber like Ace Plumbing for plumbing repairs and new plumbing fixtures.
Types of Faucets
First, let’s look at the kinds of faucets that are common in homes. Compression faucets are the traditional two-handle faucets found in many kitchens, sinks, and laundry rooms. The other most common type of faucet is a ball faucet, so called because it uses a single handle on a ball joint to regulate the flow of hot and cold water. Many businesses, and even some homes, make use of electronic faucets with infrared sensors; these turn on and off depending on where your hands are relative to the faucet.
What Causes a Leaky Faucet?
There are a number of different reasons your faucet could be leaking.
This is the most common reason compression faucets drip. The washer is subject to friction from the handles and the valve seat. If you’re using a lot of force to shut the faucet (which, in turn, requires more torque to open), you’re causing more wear and exacerbating the problem you’re trying to solve.
Faulty O Ring
Faucet handles are held in place by stem screws with a small piece of plastic — called an O ring — that helps the faucet seat correctly. If that ring wears out, you’ll see a leak near the handle, or around the base of the cartridge.
Worn or Corroded Valve Seat
The valve seat connects the spout to the faucet. Age can wear the valve seat, but another common culprit is hard water (water with a high mineral content). As it deposits around the valve seat, it displaces the piece and leads to leakage.
Often as not, we’re called in after the homeowner’s decided to fix a leaky faucet on their own. Reason being, components that are mis-sized or installed incorrectly will leak — sometimes worse than the faucet leaked before you fixed it. We get it done right the first time.
When to Call a Plumber
One of the most common causes of a faucet leak is when the water isn’t turned off fully. Kids will often leave the tap part way open, as can seniors and others with arthritis or lower hand strength. Even when there’s nothing wrong with the fixture itself, it may still be worth replacing just because a newer faucet will take less torque to turn off and on. It’s also worthwhile replacing old fixtures, since new fixtures save more water than their older counterparts.
We understand the appeal of taking the DIY approach and fixing the darn thing yourself. That said, a plumber can often tell at a glance when the cartridge should be replaced altogether. The right fix the first time — rather than the second or third — saves you money as well as unnecessarily wasted time and labor. Call Ace Plumbing for help with your home plumbing issues. We offer home plumbing services of every shape and size!