Fix a Leaky Outdoor Faucet
Simple Instructions for fixing a leaky Silcock / Outdoor Spigot
By Mark J. Donovan
Do you have a leaky outdoor faucet? If so you should
resolve the problem quickly before it causes potential water damage to
your home and yard. A constantly dripping outdoor faucet can also add up
in expenses if you are on a metered water supply. A DIY homeowner can
often fix a leaky outdoor faucet on their own, thus preventing the need
for having to call in an expensive plumber. All you need is a crescent
wrench, a screwdriver, and about a half hour of your time.
Determine the Source of the Leak
To fix a leaky outdoor faucet first find the source of the leak by
examining the spigot carefully.
Check the vacuum cap that sits on top of the frost-free
spigot to see if it is the source of the leak. If it is, try tightening it
with your hand. Often this cap can become loose over time due to the
constant expansion and contraction that occur with changing outdoor ambient
If there is no leak around the vacuum cap, then check the faucet spout. If
you see water dripping out of it, then most likely there is a failed washer
inside the faucet handle and you will need to replace it.
Getting Access to Faucet Washer
To get access to the washer first turn the water supply off to the outdoor
faucet. Typically there is a shutoff valve to it inside the house or
basement, and it is normally located near where the outdoor faucet exits the
house. The shut-off valve could also be located in a utility room.
With the water turned off to the outdoor spigot, open the valve to the full
on position to drain any residual water from the spigot.
Next, using your screwdriver remove the small screw that
holds the spigot handle to the faucet assembly.
Now remove the handle from the faucet.
Then, use a crescent wrench to loosen and remove the faucet nut that sits
behind the handle location. As you remove the faucet nut, you should see a
washer just behind it. Often it is this washer that is the culprit in
causing the leaky outdoor faucet. You may have to use your screwdriver to
remove the washer from the faucet assembly. Carefully inspect the washer and
if it looks damaged, distorted, or severely compressed replace it with a new
one. You should be able to find a replacement washer at any hardware store.
If the faucet nut is simply coated in grime then rinse it off with water and
Re-Assembling Outdoor Faucet
After youíve found a replacement washer, insert it into the outdoor faucet
assembly and re-attach the faucet nut. Hand-tighten the nut at first to make
sure you donít cross-thread it, and then use your crescent wrench to tighten
Next, re-attach the handle to the outdoor faucet with your screwdriver.
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Finally, turn the water supply back on and confirm that
water runs freely out of the frost-free spigot. Assuming it does, turn the
outdoor spigot handle to stop the flow of water from the spout. With any
luck the leaky outdoor faucet is a thing of the past.
It is important to understand that if it is a frost-free spigot it may take
a minute or two after shutting off the spigot for water to stop dripping
from the spout. The reason for this is that the valve associated with a
frost-free outdoor faucet sits approximately 6 to 8 inches back inside the
spigot assembly. Thus, the actual valve is located inside the home or
basement where freezing is not a concern. As a result of the valve being
located 6 to 8 inches back inside the spigot assembly, it can take a little
time for the residual water inside the pipe and spout to drain out.
Additional Home Plumbing Resources
Outdoor Faucets with Anti-Siphon Valves from Amazon.com