Sink Valve Leakage Causes and How to Fix Them
When turning off the water supply to a sink or another faucet, sometimes the valve can leak when trying to tighten it back up. If this happens, don’t panic. It’s a common problem with shut-off valves, and it’s easily repaired without having to call a plumber.
Turning Off the Water
The first step to fixing a leaky valve is to turn off the main water supply to that pipe. You can do this by turning off the main water supply to the house, or you can find another shut-off valve further down the line, and turn that one. This will prevent the leaking from damaging any other parts of the area, and the valve will need to be removed to fix it.
Fixing the Valve
Brand new shut-off valves tend to leak all the time around the handle area whenever they are turned on. This happens around what is called the valve stem, which goes through a packing nut and washer that provides the valve with a watertight seal. Before modern techniques, fiber would be packed tightly around the stem, which is why these components have the name ‘packing’ in them.
If the leak is minimal and the valve is new, then you have to tighten the packing nut. Try turning the nut one-quarter of a turn at a time with a wrench or a pair of pliers. If that doesn’t work, then the packing washer is most likely damaged and needs replaced.
Replacing the Packing Valve
If the previous method did not work, then it is especially important to turn off the water to the pipe as the valve will need to be removed completely for this step. Once the water is off, remove the handle from the stem, and then loosen and remove the packing nut. Remove the old washer and slide on a new one that fits.
Reinstall the packing nut; tighten it lightly with a wrench. It is important not to overtighten a packing nut as this can cause damage to the nut or the washer. Reattach the handle. Turn the water back on and open the repaired valve. Be sure to check for leaks. If it is leaking again, then go back to the first fix and tighten the packing nut slowly and gently.
If the washer is just dirty, you can try cleaning it with a cloth and flex it to try to get it soft again; however, washers are inexpensive at a local hardware store.
If the leak persists after these two methods, it might be time to purchase an entirely new valve or call a professional. Installing a new valve is as simple as removing the old one with the aforementioned method of removing the handle, stem, and packing nut, and installing a new packing nut, stem, and handle. Be sure to tighten the packing nut on the new valve as a new seal can be damaged with overtightening, too.
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