How To Fix A Leaky Two-Handle Faucet Stem

If you have a faucet leak, it could be time to replace the faucet stem. The faucet stem is the part that carries water from the pipe inside the wall to the sink. The stems can corrode after much use, causing them to drip even when the water is off. You should replace a leaky faucet stem immediately to save water which is simple to do with some tools. Here are tips to fix a leaky two-handle faucet stem.

Shut Off Water

Before you work on plumbing, shut off the water to the tub and shower. You should find a shutoff valve behind a panel on the wall. If you can't find the shutoff valve, turn off the main supply to the house, which may require a key. Turn on hot and cold taps to remove excess water from pipes and cover the drain to avoid losing parts.

Remove the Faucet Handle

You will need a Phillips screwdriver, a valve socket wrench, channel lock pliers, a utility knife, an adjustable wrench, and a new stem to complete this project. Remove the caps or screw covers from the handle with your fingernail. Some faucets have two exposed screws on top of the handles or a small screw set on the side.

Remove the screws with a Phillips screwdriver or small hex key. If the handle won't budge from the stem, wiggle it in a back and forth movement. On a modern faucet, you shouldn't have to remove many parts. On an older faucet, you may have to remove a knurled fitting on a bathtub faucet with channel lock pliers.

Replace the Stem

Remove the stem by turning the shower valve socket wrench, securing with a crossbar or screw driver shaft inserted in the socket hole. Shower valve socket wrenches have two sides that are different sizes. The correct size will slide easily on the stem and fit snuggle. If there is tile placed close to the stem, clear space with a small cold chisel and hammer.

Check for caulk inside the valve stem holes and scrape caulk or debris with a utility knife. Use the old stem as a guide to buy a replacement for any damaged parts. Secure the new stem in place and reinsert handles and fittings. With both handles in "on" position, slowly turn on the water to test for leaks.

Replacing the sink faucet stem should help solve your faucet leak problem and save money on water bills. If your repairs fail to solve the problem, contact a plumber in your area.