Simple ways to fix a leaky faucet

The Associated Press
Friday May 18, 2001

Q: I have a leaky bathroom faucet. Can you tell me some simple instructions to fix it? Please include specific tools, and parts needed. 

A: It sounds as though you might have a faulty gasket. Changing a faucet gasket is easy. But remember, if it is leaking from the valve housing it is the packing gasket or washer, and if it is leaking from the tip of the faucet it is the valve gasket. Please understand the previous terms before proceeding. Check out the Web site www.onthehouse.com and type valve gasket into the search engine. There you will find 800 words or so and a picture that will help walk you through the repair. By the way, the parts for the repair are under a dollar for two handle faucets and about $5 for single handle. 

Q: We own a 90-plus-year-old house. In the last nine months our hot water pressure has dropped to half of what our cold water pressure is. Our gas water heater is about six years old and we use city water. The pressure for the cold water seems normal at all faucets. We do not have soft water, and lime deposits killed our previous electric water heater after 10 years of use. Is the water heater bad again? 

A: The sudden drop in hot water pressure is often due to corroded nipples at the top of your water heater. Most of the time this is an easy do-it-yourself repair. First, turn off the water-supply valve to the water heater. Next, remove both supply pipes (usually flexible corrugated copper). Now you will have to remove the short piece of pipe at each of the openings. You’ll need a pipe wrench for these and supply lines. 

Here’s the glitch. Sometimes these pipes are so corroded they fall apart. Here is where you will either need to know about easy outs or where a call to the plumber is in order. In either case, once the old pipes are out, you will want to replace them with new Teflon-coated nipples. With these special nipples the corrosion won’t come back and your hot water will again be free to run at full force. 

By the way, you might want to take the extra time to replace your cathodic anode. It will extend the life of your water heater many times over.  

The nipples should cost about $5 and the anode about $15. If you want a good book on water heater maintenance, check out our Web site at www.onthehouse.com. Go to the bookstore and pick up a copy of “The Water Heater Workbook.”