Gilles' Outlet

October 1, 2007

Fixing a Leaky Compression Faucet

Filed under: Plumbing — Gilles @ 12:59 am

A leaky compression faucet is unassembled. One of its o-ring is replaced. The faucet is re-assembled.


Skill Level: 1 (Very Basic)

Time Taken: About 10 minutes

There are various types of faucets: cartridge faucets, ball faucets, disk faucets and compression faucets. Compression faucets have two handles which control the flow of hot and cold water separately. They have been around the longest, are prone to leaks and these are the most likely to require maintenance.

The subject of this article: a (dirty) compression faucet installed on a bathroom vanity. It is difficult to see on this picture but the hot water side (left) leaks badly: a drop of water falls every 3 to 4 seconds.

At this rate, a fair amount of water is lost every day.

Left: I turned the water off at the shut-off valve under the vanity.   


Right: The top of the hot water handle is removable. It conceals the screw which holds said handle onto the faucet stem. I removed it with my fingers, no tool were necessary.

Left: Detail of the brass screw holding the handle to the faucet stem. It is difficult to see on the picture but this screw has a Phillips drive.


Right: I removed the screw with a Phillips screwdriver.

Left: The stem (the brass part with the gray plastic arbor at its top) was visible after pulling the handle up.


Right: I used an adjustable wrench to remove the stem. It came without a fight.

As I unscrewed the stem, a little bit of residual water was released. This is absolutely normal.

Left: The stem seen upside down. The o-ring at the top is most likely responsible for the leak. I pried it carefully, making sure not to damage it.

I did not cut it. I need it to remain in its current shape so I can purchase the exact replacement.

Right: A box of replacement o-ring. Mine was an 7/16” I.D (Inside Diameter), 9/16” O.D. (Outside Diameter), 1/16” wall thick. It is likely yours will be different.

This box was purchased at Lowes for about $0.50

I positioned the new washer in place: it fit snuggly. Now, I got lucky to find the right o-ring right away. I fixed others faucets which were not this cooperatives and it took a few tries to get the right o-ring.

You may be tempted to use a washer which is not fitting perfectly: slightly too big or too small. Well, do not. You are almost assured the leak will come back, bigger.

I lubricated the ring with a little bit of teflon based lubricant. I would usually use plumber’s silicon grease but I ran out.

I reversed all the previous steps to re-install the faucet and observed the leak was fixed.

Tools Used:

  • Phillips Screwdriver

Materials Used:

  • Replacement o-ring
  • Silicone based grease


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