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There are many things that can go wrong with a faucet; fortunately, faucet repairs are not difficult. There are four main types of faucets and you'll need to determine what type of faucet you have, because they will all require different parts when it comes time to make repairs. Problems often involve worn parts that require replacement, and those parts will differ according to faucet type, though many of the most common faucet repairs are performed to deal with a leaky faucet.
On a compression faucet, the most common problem is a worn washer. A leaky faucet can mean that the washer under the handle has become cracked or brittle. The repair usually involves simply removing the screw on the top of the handle and replacing the washer.
On a cartridge faucet, all movable parts are in the cartridge, and you will need to replace the entire cartridge. A disk faucet also may also need the entire disk unit replaced if a leak develops, though a ball faucet can often be fixed by replacing just the spring and rubber seat assembly. These are probably the most difficult type of faucet repairs, yet they are easy enough for most homeowners to tackle.
If the water flow is uneven or sputters, it may be caused by a plugged aerator, the screen on the end of the faucet spout that helps to control the stream of water and can also slightly improve water pressure. The aerator can collect mineral deposits over time or become corroded. The rubber gasket can also become worn, allowing water to leak out around the connection between the spout and aerator. Faucet repairs that involve the aerator are a quick fix, because the aerator simply unscrews and is easy to clean or replace.
A faucet that leaks around the base of the spout may have a worn O-ring. These rings become brittle over time and need to be replaced. On most faucets, the spout is attached to the base with a threaded nut. This can be unscrewed to replace the damaged O-ring. If the spout is loose or wobbly, it may also indicate that the threaded nut needs tightening or that it may be worn or cracked.
When dealing with any faucet repair, it’s important to turn off the water at the shut-off valves before beginning work. These valves will usually be under the sink and there will be one for cold water and one for hot. If you don't have shut-off valves under the sink, you will need to turn off the water supply where it enters the house.
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