What Causes a Faucet Leak?


Drip, drip, drip – a typical sound of a faucet leak. Many homeowners ignore a leaky faucet, thinking ‘it’s no big deal.  A leaky faucet can send about three gallons of water down the drain per day. Even a small leak in the faucet can push your water bills by around a couple of hundred dollars per year. When a faucet is constantly leaking, it might indicate some underlying issues, and allowing it to leak can cause extensive damage to plumbing and even damage your home. Depending on the cause of the faucet leaking, you may be able to fix the problem on your own without the need to call a plumber.


There are mainly four types of faucets available in the market today, i.e., disc, cartridge, compression, and ball. All faucets with a single handle controlling both hot and cold water can be disc, cartridge, or ball faucets. Those with two separate handles for hot and cold water are most likely compression faucets.


There are a number of causes for a leaky faucet. Here are some of the main ones –

  • Malfunctioning O-Ring – The O-ring is part of the stem screw that holds the handle of the faucet in place. It is one of the most common places where dripping occurs. Over time, the O-ring can become loose or wear out, causing the faucet to leak near the handle. Replacing the worn-out O-ring can fix the leaking if it is the cause of the leak.
  • Deteriorated Valve Seat – A valve seat connects the faucet to the spout. Water sediments often accumulate on the valve seat, causing it to corrode over time and result in leakage in the spout area. Ensure you that you have your valve seat cleaned regularly to delay corrosion.
  • Damaged Cartridge – If you have a two-handle faucet, it will have a cartridge that controls the water flow into the faucet spout. A leak in a cartridge faucet may be due to the damaged cartridge. Replace it with a matching cartridge should fix the issue.
  • High Water Pressure – If your faucet is leaking during a certain time of the day or when no other plumbing fixture around the house is being used, it could mean that the water pressure is too high. Leaks due to high pressure start with small leaks and eventually lead to pinhole leaks in the piping, worsening the condition. It is best to call a plumber and have the water pressure restored to proper levels.
  • Worn Out Washers – Every time you use the washer, it rubs against the valve seat, causing friction. This causes the washer to wear out. As a result, you can notice a leak around the spout. Swap the worn-out washer to stop the leak.
  • Improper Installation – If the faucet is not installed correctly or is not of the right size, it can start to leak. It is best to hire a professional plumber when installing a faucet to ensure it is done correctly to avoid leaks in the future.


If you have a leaky faucet, you can try to fix it on your own. But, if you do not want to take on the job yourself or the issue needs professional assistance, it is best to call a plumber. They can inspect the faucet and determine the cause of the leak. They also check the entire faucet and ensure there are no other issues present.

If you’d like to learn more about what shouldn’t I flush down the drain.

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