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Why Does My Faucet Run When Turned Off?

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Isn’t it frustrating when your faucet will not stop dripping? This annoying problem is a very common issue throughout many households. In this article, we will address exactly what to do if your faucet is turned off but water is still running, and just as importantly, why it might be happening.

Why Does my Faucet Keep Leaking After I Turn It Off?

There are several reasons as to why a faucet may keep running after it is turned off, and many of them are not serious, you’ll be glad to learn! For example, it might be time for a new washer, or the issue may be due to your water pressure. Don’t worry; however, we will go into much more detail in this article to help you diagnose the problem and precisely what you can do to fix it.

Difference Between Leaking vs. Running Faucet?

Although it may seem obvious to some, we wanted to point out that yes, there is a difference between leaking and running faucets.

Running faucets have a steady, gushing, continuous flow of water coming out; this water flow stops when you turn the faucet off. A leaking faucet or a faucet that won’t turn off properly will emit small water droplets or a consistent trickle that leaks out. A leak of this type can go unnoticed for long periods and waste a lot of water.

If you suspect you have a leak but aren’t entirely sure, completely dry the sink and place a paper towel in it overnight. By the next day, you’ll have your answer!

Leading Causes of A Dripping Faucet

There are five common causes of a dripping faucet:

Malfunctioning O-Ring

Faulty O-rings are often the main reason behind leaks. O-rings are nothing more than a small rubber ring placed around the handle stem screw. With usage and over time, these rubber parts can often weaken, which leads to water moving past the seal and leaking.

Damaged Cartridge

If your faucet has two handles, water can leak from the cartridge, causing a dripping faucet. The water valve cartridge is the main valve on each handle, and these two valves control the water flow into the faucet spout.

Broken/Ill-Fitting washers

Broken rubber washers are commonly the issue when confronted with a leak. Continous water pressure pushes the rubber washer to the valve seal, and this unrelenting pressure will, over time, break the washer. Thankfully, it’s an easy repair.

Another common issue is rubber washers either not being placed correctly, or the washers are too small or big. Again, this is an easy fix.

Deteriorated Valve Seat

A valve seat can become corroded due to water sediments gathering, which often causes a leak. It’s easy to prevent this from happening – a quick clean is all it takes. You will find it between the spout and the faucet.

Water pressure

Although rare, cracks within pipe fittings or pipes themselves can cause a pressure change in the water supply, leading to leaking faucets. High-pressure water is usually the cause of this.

Identify Your Faucet Type

Below we have identified the four main types of faucets to make it easier for you to find a replacement if your faucet is leaking water.

Ball Faucets

Ball valve faucets are the most common type of kitchen faucets. They are designed with a single handle that maneuvers over a sphere-shaped cap, hence the name ball. Because they are comprised of a lot of faucet parts, they generally are the type that is more likely to prevent leakage than other options.

Compression Washer Faucets

Compression faucets are the oldest type still available, having been around since the first indoor plumbing system. They require a bit of pressure to switch off the water flow. They are a cheaper option and, therefore (unsurprisingly), are prone to leaking.

Cartridge Faucets

This type of faucet looks almost exactly like compression washer faucets. They are primarily only distinguishable due to the smoother action when moving one of the two handles, where no added pressure is needed. A slight turn is all that’s required.

Disc Faucets

The newest to the market is the disc faucet. It is easily identifiable, thanks to its single handle sitting on top of a wide cylindrical-shaped body, inside of which is the pressure balance cartridge. These faucets do not often need to be repaired due to their high-quality manufacturing.

Steps to Fix Your Leaking Faucet

Follow this step by step guide filled with handy instructions that may help fix a troublesome leaky sink faucet:

Turn Off Your Water Supply

The first thing to do is turn off your water supply, you can do this by locating the shut-off valve (also known as the water valve). The shut-off valve is usually located below your sink.

It might be surprising to learn that many DIYers simply forget this essential step of switching off the shut-off valves and are surprised to see their faucet is still leaking when they come to fix it!

Or, if you prefer, you can turn the entire main water supply off instead.

Disassemble the Faucet Handles

Once you have turned off the under sink valves, it’s time to disassemble the faucet handle. The handle is mounted on the faucet stem and is placed with a screw within the faucet valve housing. It should be straightforward to remove this screw but if it is difficult to move, try using penetrating oil to loosen it.

Remove the valve stem

Now, use the wrench to remove the packing net so you can see and remove the stem. Once you have, inspect it for damage, as a faulty stem can cause a faucet to drip. This will enable you to see the stem. Once you see the stem, you can remove it and check for any mineral deposits that need removing.

Need help? Have a look at our how to loosen a stuck faucet stem guide.

Inspect and Identify what needs to be replaced

It’s important to check both the O-ring and the washer. Usage can reduce the size of a washer until it can no longer cover the entire opening, leading to leaks. If you suspect any damage of wear and tear, you can repair or replace both with ease – just ensure that you replace them with the correct size for your faucet.

Reassemble the faucet

Lastly, reassemble your faucet and turn on either the main water valves or the water valves under your sink. Once back in place, you can test if the leak has finally stopped when the faucet is in the off position.

Tools You Need To Fix Your Leaky Faucet

If you want to repair a leaky faucet yourself, you’re going to need a few things to help you. The first item you will want to grab is an adjustable wrench. A screwdriver, new washers, and O-rings, as well as penetrating oil in case of difficult to maneuver screws, are also a must. A suitable spanner might also be a good idea.

FAQs

How much water is wasted from a running faucet?

A few drops of water coming from your faucet may seem insignificant, but they add up – and quickly.

A dripping tap can use up to a third of a gallon by the minute – that’s an unfortunately large amount of water to waste! Even more incredibly, a faucet left running on full can waste up to five gallons of water per minute. That’s potentially over 200 gallons of water in 24 hours.

Is it difficult to fix a faucet?
It’s surprisingly easy to fix a faucet by yourself, just look at our handy step-by-step guide above! Not only is it cheaper than having a plumber do it for you, but it is a pretty painless process. If you don’t have the time or feel a bit unsure about completing the process yourself, a professional can have the job done for you in no time.

How long can I expect a faucet to last?
You can expect them to last for quite some time. Many can last for somewhere up to 20 years with the proper care and maintenance. If your faucet is in constant need of repairs, it could be time to consider a replacement.

How do I know what model my faucet is?
By far, the easiest way to check which model you have is to look for the logo on the tap. You should also hopefully be able to find a model number somewhere on the faucet, which will help you identify what type of model you have.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a confident grasp on how straightforward it can be to fix a faucet that leaks. But, if in doubt, there’s no harm in speaking to a plumber about the problem, who will simply replace any damaged parts for you.

A small word of warning to finish on: if you are seeing an increase in your water bill yet do not have a visible dripping faucet and are not using more water than you usually would, it might be time to call in the professionals. This can often be a sign that there is a -potentially serious – leak within the water supply lines of your home.

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