03 Mar. 22

Chicago Plumbing 101: Replacing A Faucet Stem To Stop Leaks

Being the #1 rated residential service plumber on Chicago’s Northwest Side, the licensed and insured plumbers from Vanguard Plumbing & Sewer have fixed their fair share of leaking faucets over the last decade plus. With that kind of experience, it’s only natural that homeowners from Niles to Irving Park, Andersonville to Wicker Park come to us for answers and advice on their home plumbing problems. And we love to help!

One of the most common things we hear from customers – both past and present – is how much a dripping faucet can drive them nuts. And we get it. That “drip, drip, drip” isn’t something we’d call soothing. In fact, it can be downright maddening and that’s why we’ve decided to help homeowners with some steps they can take to fix the faucet leak themselves.

What Commonly Causes A Leaking Chicago Faucet?

There can be a million reasons why your kitchen or bathroom faucet leaks. It could be a bad gasket or washer. It could be an O-ring wore out or you have corrosion has eaten up an important element of your faucet. In any of these cases, you can usually correct it with a faucet repair kit available at any home improvement, plumbing supply or hardware store. We’re going to look at leaks caused by bad faucet stems – whether they’re one handle or two handle models doesn’t matter in this case because both will be dealt with in the same manner.

Any time you have a plumbing problem you’re looking at yourself the best advice our five-star rated plumbers can give you is to take your time and use logic. Plumbing systems aren’t abstract. They’re logical and can be followed easily if you think ahead and plan your steps – which is what we’re going to do now. First, you’re going to need a few tools and supplies to get started:

  • Pipe Wrench
  • Allen Wrench
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Sink Stopper
  • Towel or Cloth

Chicago Plumbing 101: Faucet Stem Replacement Steps

We’re going to cover replacing your Northwest Side faucet stem in six steps that are easy to follow and should have your faucet fixed up in no time. One of these steps will involve you going to buy a replacement stem for your faucet so keep that in mind before you get started. You could go get one before you start if you know the exact make and model of your faucet. With that information you can easily have someone at the home improvement, plumbing supply or hardware store you visit assist you in getting the right faucet stem. If you don’t know the model then you’ll need to remove the stem and take it with you so start with step 1.

  • Faucet Stem Replacement – Step 1: Turn off the water to your sink. You can find the valve under the sink in 99% of cases so just turn it off by turning the valve handle all the way until it won’t turn anymore. If you’re unsure if the water is off don’t worry we’re going to turn the tap on with both handles or the single handle and let the water drain out. If it continued running you haven’t turned the water off all the way yet. Once you have, put the sink stopper in the bottom of the sink to ensure you don’t drop anything in the drain.
  • Faucet Stem Replacement – Step 2: Now we need to remove the handle or handles from the hot and cold water controls. You can normally find a screw at the back of the faucet mount where the handles connect. Just unscrew it and put the screw(s) in a safe place. If there are no screws at the back then you probably have screws at the top of the handles covered by caps. Pry the caps off and unscrew the handle(s) while storing the screws safely for the time being.
  • Faucet Stem Replacement – Step 3: After the handle is off you’ll see the faucet stem we’re looking for. It’s what controls the water flow through your faucet – either hot or cold – so when you have a leak that keeps dripping it’s usually caused by this faucet stem becoming loose, degraded or stripped. What you want to do is use the pipe wrench to loosen the packing nut at the base of the faucet (usually under the sink) and store it safely. Now just pull the faucet stem up through the top of your sink.
  • Faucet Stem Replacement – Step 4: With your faucet stem in hand it’s time to go to the home improvement, plumbing supply or hardware store to purchase a replacement faucet stem. By carrying the stem with you you’re ensuring that you don’t end up with the wrong one. That will just keep the dripping going so be sure you take the faucet stem with you wherever you go to find the part you need. Also, ask the person helping you for an O-ring that aligns with the faucet model you own and get one. When you have both the O-ring and the faucet stem return to your Northwest Side home to complete the job.
  • Faucet Stem Replacement – Step 5: Once you’ve returned from your faucet stem shopping adventure you’re ready to finish up and test your work. The first thing to do is to completely dry off the faucet assembly, the handles and the sink to make sure there’s no moisture present. Now you want to replace the O-ring around the handle assembly and then insert them stem and center it. Getting the alignment right in important so take your time. When you’re comfortable with it screw the packing nut back on and tighten it.
  • Faucet Stem Replacement – Step 6: Get the handle(s) and screw(s) you removed earlier and reattach it using enough pressure to tighten it but not enough to strip the screw. When it’s on again reach under the sink and turn the water to the faucet back on. Now test the water to be sure the faucet works and the water coming out is the correct temperature – hot or cold. Turn off the faucet and check for leaks. Those drips that were driving to distraction should be a distant memory now!

Get World-Class Chicago Faucet Plumbing From Vanguard!

If you’d rather not undertake replacing the faucet stems in your Northwest Side home you can always leave it to the licensed and insured residential service plumbers from Vanguard Plumbing & Sewer. Our Chicago faucet plumbers are the highest rated plumbers in all of Illinois with more than 500 five star reviews across the web and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Call (773) 633-6139 today for a Chicago faucet plumbing estimate from Vanguard!