Should I Repair or Replace a Leaky Faucet?

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Mark Jardine
July 09, 2024
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A leaky faucet isn’t just a minor nuisance; it’s a potential drain on your wallet and the environment. Faced with the choice, should you repair or replace it? The answer depends on various factors like the extent of the leak, the age of your faucet, and the costs involved.
In this blog, we’ll help you navigate these considerations and decide the best course of action. Plus, if you need expert advice, our insights on plumbing services in Los Angeles will guide you to professional solutions.

Understanding the Basics

Grasping the essentials of faucet leaks is crucial for effective maintenance and repair. Let’s delve into the causes of a leaky faucet and the telltale signs that indicate you have one.

What Causes a Faucet to Leak?

A leaky faucet can be a persistent annoyance and a source of wasted water. Understanding the common causes of faucet leaks can help you identify and fix the issue more effectively.
  • Worn-Out Washers
Washers are rubber or silicone seals that create a watertight connection. Over time, they can wear out or become stiff, leading to leaks.
  • Corroded Valve Seat
The valve seat connects the faucet to the spout and can corrode due to mineral deposits from water. This corrosion causes leaks at the base of the faucet.
  • Damaged O-Ring
An O-ring is a small rubber ring used in cartridge faucets. It can become loose or wear out over time, resulting in a leak around the handle.
  • Loose Parts
Over time, parts of the faucet can become loose due to regular use. This can cause water to seep out from different parts of the faucet assembly.
  • Worn-Out Cartridge
In cartridge faucets, the cartridge itself can wear out. This part regulates water flow and temperature, and a worn-out cartridge can cause leaks.
  • High Water Pressure
Excessive water pressure can put stress on faucet components, leading to leaks. While less common, it’s a factor worth considering if other causes are ruled out.
  • Improper Installation
If a faucet is not installed correctly, it can cause misalignments and gaps, leading to leaks. This is particularly common with DIY installations.

Common Signs of a Leaky Faucet

Detecting a leaky faucet early can save you from costly faucet repairs and water wastage. Here are some common signs to watch for that indicate your faucet might be leaking.
  • Constant Dripping: Even when turned off, the faucet drips water, indicating a possible internal issue.
  • Water Stains: Visible stains or puddles around the faucet base suggest leakage.
  • Rust or Corrosion: Rusty spots or corrosion around the faucet can signal ongoing leaks.
  • Higher Water Bills: An unexplained increase in your water bill might be due to a hidden faucet leak.
  • Mold or Mildew: The presence of mold or mildew around the sink area can be a sign of prolonged moisture from a leak.
  • Squeaky Handles: Handles that squeak or are hard to turn can indicate worn parts leading to leaks.
  • Reduced Water Pressure: A noticeable drop in water pressure might be due to leaks affecting the overall flow.

Evaluating the Situation

Before addressing any plumbing issue, it's essential to evaluate the situation carefully. This involves understanding the severity of the leak—whether it's a minor drip or a more serious flow—which guides the appropriate response and ensures effective resolution by pinpointing the exact source of the problem.
  • Assessing the Extent of the Leak
Determining the severity of a water leak is crucial before taking action. A slow drip suggests a minor issue that may require simple repairs like tightening a fitting or replacing a seal. However, if water is trickling out rapidly or pooling, it indicates a more serious problem that could potentially cause significant damage. Understanding the extent of the leak helps prioritize responses, ensuring appropriate resources are allocated to address the issue promptly and effectively, minimizing potential damage and disruption.
  • Identifying the Source of the Problem
To effectively resolve a leak, identifying its precise source is essential. Leaks can originate from various points such as the spout, base, connections, or internal components. By pinpointing where the water is escaping, whether due to worn-out seals, cracks, or loose fittings, you can tailor your repair strategy accordingly. This step prevents unnecessary repairs and ensures that fixes are targeted and effective. It also helps in determining whether a repair can be done DIY or if professional intervention is necessary to address underlying issues comprehensively.

Repairing a Leaky Faucet

Fixing a leaky faucet promptly can prevent water waste and damage. Knowing when and how to repair your faucet can extend its lifespan and maintain your plumbing system's efficiency. Here’s a guide to when repair is best and how to fix common issues step-by-step.

When is Repair the Best Option?

Repairing a leak is typically ideal when dealing with initial incidents or newer faucets. It offers a cost-effective solution that is often straightforward to implement, especially if the damage is localized and not extensive. By opting for repair in these scenarios, homeowners can address the issue promptly, preventing further damage and maintaining the functionality of their plumbing fixtures without the need for more extensive replacements or repairs. This approach is efficient in maintaining the longevity and efficiency of the plumbing system while being mindful of cost considerations.

Step-by-Step Guide to Repairing a Leaky Faucet

Tools Needed
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Replacement washers/O-rings
  • Plumber’s tape
Steps to Repair
  • Turn off the water supply: This is crucial to avoid a watery mess.
  • Disassemble the faucet: Carefully remove the handle and any other parts.
  • Inspect and replace worn parts: Look for damaged washers or O-rings and replace them.
  • Reassemble the faucet: Put everything back together, ensuring all parts are secure.
  • Test the faucet: Turn the water back on and check for leaks.

Replacing a Leaky Faucet

When a faucet reaches the point of persistent leaks despite repairs or shows significant signs of wear and tear, replacement becomes a practical solution. Here’s a step-by-step guide to replacing your faucet efficiently, ensuring a reliable fixture and minimizing the risk of water wastage in your home.

When is Replacement Necessary?

Replacement becomes necessary when your faucet shows signs of advanced aging, extensive corrosion, or multiple failing components. Older faucets may become increasingly difficult to repair effectively due to wear and tear over time. In such cases, the cost of replacing worn-out parts and labor can approach or even exceed the cost of installing a new faucet altogether. Choosing replacement ensures that you have a reliable and efficient fixture, reducing the likelihood of recurring issues and potential water wastage in your home.

Step-by-Step Guide to Replacing a Leaky Faucet

Tools Needed
  • Basin wrench
  • Plumber’s tape
  • New faucet
  • Adjustable wrench
Steps to Replace
  • Turn off the water supply: As with repairs, this is your first step.
  • Remove the old faucet: Use a basin wrench to loosen and remove the faucet.
  • Install the new faucet: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the new unit.
  • Connect water lines: Ensure all connections are tight and secure.
  • Test the new faucet: Turn the water back on and check for any leaks.

Cost Considerations

Understanding the financial impact of repairing vs. replacing your faucet.
  • Comparing the Costs of Repair vs. Replacement
While repairing a faucet may seem like the more budget-friendly option initially, consider the possibility of recurring repairs for the same issue. These repeated fixes can add up over time. On the other hand, replacing the faucet may come with a higher upfront cost, but it could prove more economical in the long run.
  • Long-term Financial Implications
Think beyond the initial repair or replacement cost. A new, efficient faucet can significantly reduce your water usage,leading to lower water bills. Additionally, modern faucets often come with warranties, providing protection against future malfunctions and offering peace of mind. These potential savings can offset the initial cost of replacing the faucet.

Environmental Impact

Considering the environmental consequences of repairing vs. replacing your faucet.
  • Water Conservation Benefits of Fixing a Leak
Don't underestimate the power of a drip! Even a tiny leak can waste gallons of water daily. Fixing these leaks promptly is a straightforward yet impactful way to conserve this vital resource. By minimizing water waste, you're directly reducing your environmental footprint.
  • Environmental Cost of Manufacturing New Faucets
The process of creating a new faucet isn't as simple as it seems. It involves extracting resources, consuming energy, and generating waste. Choosing to repair your existing faucet whenever possible minimizes this environmental burden and promotes a more sustainable approach.

DIY vs. Professional Help

Choosing between DIY faucet repair and professional help depends on your comfort level and the complexity of the issue.
  • When to DIY
Think leaky faucet, not full-blown plumbing nightmare. Simple repairs like replacing a washer or worn O-ring are often manageable for the handy homeowner. If you're comfortable with basic tools and can follow clear instructions, a DIY approach can save you money and give you a sense of accomplishment.
  • When to Call a Professional
For stubborn leaks, mysterious malfunctions, or signs of severe corrosion, don't hesitate to call a professional plumber. Knowing some signs you need to call a plumber, such as persistent drips, unusual noises, or severe rust, can save you from more extensive damage. Professional plumbers possess the expertise and specialized tools to tackle complex issues efficiently. They can diagnose the problem quickly, fix it right the first time, and potentially save you from causing further damage during a DIY attempt.

Choosing the Right Faucet

Selecting a faucet may seem like a simple task, but with a variety of types, styles, and features to consider, it can be an opportunity to elevate your kitchen or bathroom both functionality and flair.

Types of Faucets

When it comes to faucets, there's more than meets the eye! Beyond the basic function of delivering water, faucets come in a variety of styles and mechanisms to suit your needs. Here are some common types of faucets:
  • Compression Faucet
This is the classic faucet with two separate handles for hot and cold water. Each handle controls a washer that compresses to stop the flow of water. Compression faucets are known for their durability and ease of repair, but they can also drip and become stiff over time.
  • Cartridge Faucet
A more modern option, cartridge faucets use a single handle to control water temperature and flow. Inside the faucet, a single cartridge regulates water mixing and shut off. Cartridge faucets are known for their smooth operation and ease of use, but replacing the cartridge can be more expensive than repairing a compression faucet.
  • Ball Faucet
Ball faucets are another single-handle design that utilizes a hollow ball inside the faucet to regulate water flow and temperature. Turning the handle rotates the ball, allowing water to pass through different openings. Ball faucets are known for their affordability, durability, and ease of use.
  • Disk Faucet
Offering a similar design to cartridge faucets, disk faucets use two ceramic disks to control water flow and temperature.As the handle turns, the upper disc rotates against the stationary lower disc, opening or closing channels for hot and cold water. Disk faucets are known for their smooth operation, durability, and resistance to leaks.
  • Touchless Faucet
Touchless faucets are a modern innovation that prioritizes hygiene and convenience. They use sensors to detect hand movement, automatically turning on and off the water flow. Touchless faucets are a great option for high-traffic areas like kitchens and public restrooms, but they typically require batteries or an electrical connection and can be more expensive upfront.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a New Faucet

Choosing the right faucet goes beyond aesthetics! To ensure you get the perfect fit for your needs and budget, here are some key factors to consider:
  • Number of Handles: Think about functionality and preference. Single-handle faucets offer ease of use with one lever controlling temperature and flow, while double-handle faucets provide precise control over hot and cold water.
  • Mounting Type: Not all faucets fit all sinks! Ensure your chosen faucet matches the number of pre-drilled holes in your sink or countertop. Common configurations include single-hole and three-hole options.
  • Spout Height and Reach: Consider both functionality and style. A taller spout provides more clearance for filling tall pots, while a shorter spout may be ideal for smaller sinks. Reach refers to the distance the spout extends from the base, ensuring it can reach all areas of the sink.
  • Finish and Material: Faucet finishes come in a variety of options like chrome, stainless steel, or bronze to complement your existing décor. Material also plays a role, with metal faucets offering superior durability compared to plastic options.
  • Functionality and Features: Modern faucets offer a range of features beyond basic water flow. Consider if you need a pull-out or pull-down sprayer for enhanced cleaning, a sprayer with different spray modes, or even a touchless faucet for a hygienic hands-free experience.

Maintenance Tips

Keeping your faucet happy means less stress for you down the line! Here are some key practices to prevent future leaks and establish a smooth-running routine.
  • Preventing Future Leaks
Think of preventative care! Regular maintenance is key to extending the life of your faucet. This includes cleaning aerators to prevent clogs, checking for loose parts that could lead to drips, and addressing any minor issues you discover before they snowball into major leaks. By being proactive, you can save yourself a bigger headache (and potential water damage) in the future.
  • Regular Maintenance Routines
Establish a regular faucet care routine to keep things running smoothly. This might involve a quick inspection and cleaning at specific intervals, like once a month. Regular cleaning helps prevent mineral buildup that can cause leaks and clogs. Additionally, catching minor issues early, like a loose handle or a dripping spout, allows you to address them before they become more serious problems. A little time and attention now can save you significant time and money in the long run.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Even the handiest DIYer can make mistakes. Here's how to avoid some common pitfalls when tackling your faucet:
DIY Errors
  • Overenthusiastic Tightening: While a secure connection is important, avoid over-tightening nuts and fittings. This can damage the parts or create leaks.
  • Mismatched Parts: Don't force it! Using the wrong parts for your specific faucet can lead to leaks and frustration.Ensure you have the correct replacements before starting any repairs.
  • Water Woes: This one seems obvious, but it's worth mentioning. Always turn off the water supply before starting any faucet work. This prevents a surprise geyser and simplifies the repair process.
Choosing the Wrong Replacement
Not all faucets are interchangeable. Make sure your new faucet is compatible with your sink! Here's what to consider:
  • Number of Holes: Does your sink have one, two, or three pre-drilled holes? Choose a faucet with the matching configuration to avoid installation issues.
  • Spout Reach and Height: Measure your sink and ensure the new faucet's spout reach is sufficient and the spout height allows for comfortable use.
  • Functionality: Think about your needs. Do you require a pull-out sprayer or touchless operation? Selecting a faucet that meets your functional needs from the start will save you the hassle of returning or replacing it later.

Benefits of a New Faucet

Upgrading your faucet can be more than just a cosmetic change! A new faucet can offer a surprising range of benefits that enhance both form and function in your kitchen or bathroom. Here are 5 reasons to consider making the switch:
  • Enhanced Efficiency: Modern faucets often incorporate water-saving technologies like aerators or low-flow cartridges. This can significantly reduce your water consumption and potentially lower your water bills.
  • Improved Functionality: New faucets come with a variety of features that can make your life easier. Pull-out or pull-down sprayers offer greater flexibility for cleaning, while touchless faucets promote hygiene and convenience.
  • Durability and Reliability: Newer faucets are often built with stronger, more durable materials that can withstand everyday wear and tear. This translates to a longer lifespan for your faucet and less frequent need for replacements.
  • Aesthetics and Style: A new faucet can be a surprisingly easy way to refresh the look of your kitchen or bathroom.With a wide range of finishes and styles available, you can find a faucet that complements your existing décor and elevates the overall aesthetic.
  • Potential Value Boost: Upgrading your faucets can be a worthwhile investment, especially if you're considering selling your home in the future. New faucets can add a touch of luxury and functionality that potential buyers appreciate.


  • How do I know if my faucet needs to be repaired or replaced?
If it’s a minor leak and the faucet is relatively new, repair is usually sufficient. For older, heavily corroded faucets, replacement might be better.
  • Can a leaky faucet cause damage to my home?
Yes, over time, a leaky faucet can cause water damage to cabinets, countertops, and floors.
  • How much does it cost to repair a leaky faucet?
Repair costs can range from $50 to $200, depending on the complexity of the issue and whether you hire a professional.
  • Are there any tools I need for a DIY faucet repair?
Common tools include an adjustable wrench, screwdriver, replacement washers/O-rings, and plumber’s tape.
  • What should I consider when buying a new faucet?
Consider the type, style, material, and any additional features like water-saving technology or touchless operation.


Deciding whether to repair or replace a leaky faucet can be daunting, but with the right information, you can make a smart choice for your home and wallet. From understanding the causes and signs of leaks to evaluating repair and replacement options, staying informed is key. Remember, timely repairs can save water, money, and prevent further damage.
For persistent issues or complex faucet repairs, don’t hesitate to call Home Alliance for professional plumbing repair services. Ensuring your plumbing is in top shape not only enhances your home’s efficiency but also contributes to a sustainable future. Make the right call and keep your faucet - and your home - running smoothly.