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Hey, you're in the garden zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Watering in General Category


Faucet that is located outside is leaking.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

  • Appropriate faucet washer replacement

  • Appropriate non-corrosive screw (like a galvanized screw)

  • Silicone-based lubricant

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Screwdriver

  • Needle-nose pliers



If your faucet outside is leaking, all you may need to do is tighten the packing nut of the faucet that may have come loose, a nut of which is usually located right under the faucet handle; if you find that this is not the case--that the packing nut is not loose at all--your leak stems from the wearing out of the internal faucet components, virtually always the washer/o-ring.

Repairing a leaking outside faucet that is caused by a worn-out washer/o-ring can be done in a few steps, and here's how:

  1. First and foremost, shut off the main waterline to the house by turning the shutoff valve, usually located near the water meter of the house, clockwise; if you have trouble finding the shutoff valve, see the section on problems finding the shutoff valve.

  2. Next, with an adjustable wrench, loosen the packing nut (usually found below the faucet handle) by turning it counterclockwise and then open the faucet handle counterclockwise until you are able to have the entire faucet assembly (i.e., the valve stem) become free.

  3. With the removed valve stem now in your hands, look at the bottom portion of this stem where you will usually find the faucet washer/o-ring that needs to be replaced.

With a screwdriver, unscrew the bottom screw that holds this existing washer/o-ring in place.  (If you find that this screw is in just as bad shape as that of the washer/o-ring it is holding in place, you might consider replacing this screw, too, with a a non-corrosive screw, such as a galvanized screw for this purpose.  The screw is especially in need of replacement in the event you will have to rip apart the washer/o-ring with your screwdriver and need a pair of nose pliers to remove the screw, itself, because it could not be unscrewed with the screwdriver in the first place.)

After unscrewing the screw and removing the worn-out washer/o-ring, replace it with an appropriate washer/o-ring replacement that is, of course, consistent in size with that of the old/existing one; to make sure you get the appropriately sized washer/o-ring, take the old/existing washer/o-ring into local hardware store or home improvement center in order to make sure you find a new washer/o-ring that matches it.

At the time of replacing the washer/o-ring with appropriate washer/o-ring replacement, as noted above, as may be applicable, replace the screw that is used to secure the washer/o-ring with a non-corrosive screw.

Just prior to screwing on the washer/o-ring screw to secure the washer/o-ring to the faucet valve stem, make sure the washer/o-ring screw and the rest of the faucet assembly is treated to an application of lubrication; any hardware store or home improvement center should carry silicone faucet lubrication; never use petroleum-based lubrication, as it is known to cause a premature deterioration of the faucet assembly, primarily that of its washer/o-ring.

  1. Once lubricated and the washer/o-ring replacement is secured to the faucet valve stem bottom, re-insert this faucet valve stem back into the faucet as it was found before, turning the faucet handle into place until it is tightened, and tightening the packing nut of the faucet until it is snug-tight; use an adjustable wrench in this process as may be necessary.

  2. Turn the main waterline to the house back on by turning the shutoff valve counterclockwise.  Once you do this, observe the outside faucet you just repaired to make sure you sign no additional signs of a leak.

That's what it takes to repair a faucet located outside that is leaking.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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