Leaky faucets are a common problem for both residential and commercial properties. Because they are so common, people often put off repairing a small drip. You may think a small leak isn’t that big of a problem, but dripping faucets may be costing you a lot of money and causing more damage than you realize.
For a single household, one leaky faucet can waste up to 20 gallons of water per day. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that leaky faucets are estimated to waste almost 1 trillion gallons of water per year in the United States.
In addition to running up water bills, leaks cause other problems including:
- Rot - Flooring, counter tops, cabinets, and other wood surfaces will warp and rot when they are continuously exposed to dripping water. If the area under your bathroom or kitchen sink is constantly damp, you can expect rot to develop. Left unrepaired, a leaky faucet can lead to serious structural damage and expensive repairs.
- Mold - The adverse health effects of mold are well documented. People with allergies, asthma and other respiratory problems are more sensitive to mold. That’s why it’s important to correct conditions that cause mold growth including condensation, high humidity, and plumbing leaks. When water damage is extensive, serious mold issues can develop which may require expensive mold remediation services to resolve.
- Environmental Impact - In addition to costing you money, ignoring a leaky faucet is bad for the environment. An average household’s leaks can waste up to 10,000 gallons of water annually. Repairing leaks minimizes the effects of droughts and water shortages and helps preserve the environment by reducing the amount of energy required to process and deliver water to homes, businesses, farms, and communities.
Why Is My Faucet Leaking?
Inside each faucet is a collection of rubber gaskets, washers, and O-rings that form a seal. They hold back water and are often the parts that wear out over time. Faucets also contain metal and plastic parts, but they rarely require any maintenance other than replacing a chipped or cracked valve seat or cartridge.
There are several common causes of leaky faucets including:
- Wear and Tear - Faucets are designed to withstand a lot of use, but all plumbing fixtures eventually wear out. Over time, there are numerous internal parts inside a faucet that can fail resulting in a leak. If you have tried to stop a small leak by tightening the knobs, you may have inadvertently damaged the valve seat or washer by over tightening them.
- High Water Pressure - High water pressure is a common cause of water leaks. Pressure that is too strong can interfere with the proper flow of water in pipes. If water is unable to flow easily from one area to another, a backup is created which can lead to leaky pipes and faucets.
Testing your home’s water pressure is easy. If you find your water pressure isn’t in the recommended range, contact a plumber for immediate assistance.
- Sediment Build-Up - Tap water contains minerals and sediments that can build up over time. Referred to as “hard water”, this sediment buildup can create problems throughout plumbing systems, including faucets.
- Corrosion - Corrosion is a common problem triggered by mineral build-up, often affecting the valve seats in faucets. Taking steps to deal with hard water helps protect your plumbing system and eliminates problems associated with heavy mineral content.
Tips for Repairing a Leaky Faucet
Repairing a leaky faucet is rarely complicated, but it can be time consuming. Age, corrosion, and hard water deposits can turn a simple repair into a frustrating experience for homeowners. DIYers can often handle the job on their own but should expect to spend considerable time taking apart a faucet, locating the issue, and then repairing and reassembling the unit.
Different types of faucets require different repairs. The first step to identifying why your faucet is leaking is determining what type of faucet you have. There are four common types of faucets on the market:
- Ball faucets use a ball joint to control the flow of hot and cold water lines, and mix them as needed. These types of faucets are especially common in kitchen sinks. They are easy to identify as they are controlled by a single handle on a round cap that is mounted directly on the top of the spout. Ball faucets do not have washers.
- Cartridge faucets are usually two-handled and commonly found in bathrooms. These types of faucets use a cartridge that moves up and down to control the flow of water. If the handle moves up and down as you twist the water on and off, you likely have a cartridge faucet.
- Disc faucets are newer and usually more expensive options. They do not rely on washers and require less maintenance. Identifying a disc faucet can be harder - they often resemble ball joint faucets because they have a single lever to operate them. However, the lever of a disc faucet sits atop a wide, cylindrical body as opposed to a ball joint.
- Compression washer faucets are typically found in older homes where plumbing fixtures have not been updated. These faucets have two handles that are often static and don’t move up or down as you rotate them. Compression faucets are also commonly used for outdoor garden faucets. When the rubber washer inside a compression faucet wears out, leaks develop.
Reasons to Call a Professional if Your Faucets Are Leaking
Some homeowners mistakenly assume that fixing a leaky faucet is a DIY project, only to discover they’ve created more problems and still have to call a professional plumber. Even though it might appear simple, fixing a leaky faucet is not always straightforward. There are different parts and components that make up the entire faucet assembly.
If you can’t determine the cause of the leak or are unable to solve it with a quick DIY repair, it’s time to call a professional plumber. They’ll have the experience and tools to quickly identify and resolve the problem.
If you have a leaky faucet in your bathroom or kitchen, or have signs of a more serious water leak, call Simply Green Plumbing, Sewer & Rooter. Our technicians have the training and experience to handle all of your plumbing needs. Call us at (408) 716-1686 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.
Our technicians have over 30 years of experience. We understand that plumbing problems can happen at any time, that’s why we offer emergency plumbing services at no extra cost.