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How To Change A Faucet Washer

by | Nov 27, 2020 | Plumbing Guides

Tired of listening to a dripping faucet? Perhaps also tired of paying for water that is literally going straight down the drain?! Having a leaky faucet is a common problem and is something someone with some knowledge and basic tools can handle. Here is a look at how to change a washer in a faucet to fix a leaky tap. But keep in mind if you are at all unsure about anything, or perhaps you do not have your own tools even a basic set, call in a professional plumber!

Faucets have parts that wear out

There are several parts that go together to make a faucet work and one of the most common and first to wear down is the washers. When parts start to wear and break this leads to a leaky faucet, it might come from the spout or from the handle or even from the base. If you have faucets that are older than a decade it is a good idea to look into changing faucet washers. Before you start though you need to work out which type of faucet you are dealing with. The four main types are:

  1. Ball faucets – Common in kitchens where there are a single handle and a mechanism that allows you to swerve or position the stem. It does not use washers but does use rubber seals and rubber o-rings that can crack.
  2. Cartridge faucets – Very similar to a compression faucet but also use rubber o-rings rather than washers.
  3. Disc faucets – Similar to ball faucets and uses ceramic discs which are a recent development.
  4. Compression faucets – Separate hot and cold water controls and this faucet does use washers. These are common in old homes.

How to change a faucet washer

  1. First of all, you need to shut off the water supply at the mains then let the water in the faucet you are working on, drain out. Otherwise, you can end up getting pretty wet!
  2. When the water has drained at this stage of how to fix a faucet washer is to remove the handle, which might need a knife or screwdriver.
  3. Now separate the stem and take a look at those threads. If they are really worn down you might want to get a new stem, and you can also use this opportunity to check the screws too and replace them if needed. Give everything a good clean.
  4. Since this is about changing faucet washers, take a look now at the washer. If there are deposits on it give it a clean and decide whether that will be enough or whether you should replace it. Make sure to get a replacement washer that is the same size and style.
  5. Put in the new washer and use some Vaseline to seal them spreading it on the stem threads too to get some lubrication. Now put everything back on in reverse. Turn the water back on and test the tap to check to see if changing your faucet washer has been successful.


With some reading and preparation, you find out how to fix a faucet washer and take care of your leaky taps. When you consider just one drop of water per second adds up to almost 10,000 liters of water a year being wasted, and many people have leaking taps that drip more than that. Then what if that is your tap from your hot water that is leaking? You then have to factor in the costs of heating the water in your energy bills too that is being wasted! If you cannot fix the faucet washer yourself find a trustworthy professional plumber to come and handle it. Ignoring it is not going to see it just magically go away! How do you find one? Take a look online and do a search locally, ask your friends, neighbors and family for professionals they might recommend. Compare the quotes they offer and then find someone you feel comfortable with. Keep their number as plumbing issues happen, so if you cannot handle them yourself you need someone you trust who can do it instead.

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