Here's How Much Water a Dripping Faucet Wastes

Water dripping from a bathroom faucet - Mr. Plumber by Metzler & Hallam

In Indianapolis, Indiana, homeowners dread a dripping faucet because of how much water this problem wastes. With rising water bills, drips from the faucet add up quickly. The importance of a tightly sealed faucet goes without saying when homeowners are being charged for the leaks

Drippy faucets are relatively common. Mr. Plumber wants homeowners to know why they must take action to stop a leaky faucet fast. Not only does a dripping faucet cost homeowners money, it is a significant and preventable cause of water waste. Our plumbers discuss the possible causes behind a dripping faucet and the best course of action to take. 

What Are the Causes of a Dripping Faucet?

Sometimes, a dripping faucet is caused by nothing more than slightly leaving on the tap by accident. However, when you’re sure you turned the faucet off and water still drips, your faucet has a leak. 

There are several common causes for a drippy faucet:

  • Valve seat. The valve seat connects the faucet to the spout. Over time, water sediments collect and corrode the valve seat, which causes leaks from the spout. When the valve seat corrodes, it is unable to keep water inside the spout. Regular cleaning of the valve seat helps homeowners avoid this problem. 
  • O-ring. O-rings are small discs in faucets that help hold the faucet’s handle in place. When these rings become loose or wear out, which causes a dripping faucet. Leaks caused by a bad O-ring occurs near the handle.
  • Cartridge. In a cartridge faucet, the cartridge controls how much water goes through the faucet. When the cartridge becomes loose or worn out, it needs to be replaced. It’s important to have a replacement cartridge on-hand in case of a leak, so quick repairs can be made.
  • Washers. Washers sit against the valve seat. When washers move, this creates friction between the two parts. Friction wears out the washers, which eventually allows water through to form a leak. Incorrect installation of washers also causes dripping faucet problems. 
  • Seals. There are two types of seals in a faucet—inlet and outlet. Over time, these seals are corroded from water sediments in the same manner as in the valve seat. After long periods of use, a faucet’s seals naturally wear.
  • Water pressure. Does your faucet drip when you use other water fixtures in your home? If this is the case, the water pressure is a likely source behind your dripping faucet. Additionally, if you move the handle in a particular way and that causes a drip, it also points to water pressure problems.
  • Loose or broken parts. Lastly, broken or loose parts anywhere on the faucet cause faucet drips. When parts are loose, they usually only need to be tightened to fix the issue. However, replacement parts or a new faucet fixture are necessary if a component is broken.

Consequences of a Dripping Faucet

Though a dripping faucet seems like a minor inconvenience, this small problem leads to surprising consequences. For example, if left for too long, a dripping faucet raises water bills. Here are the damaging repercussions of a faucet drip: 

 

  • Higher water bills. If a faucet continues to drip over a prolonged period of time, water bills rise. Even though you aren’t actively using the water, the bill still increases because water is consumed in your home. When money is tight, extra dollars wasted on dripping water from the faucet could be saved through simple leak repairs.
  • Wasted water. In addition to wasting money, dripping faucets waste a large amount of water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a single leaky faucet wastes as much as 3,000 gallons of water over a year’s time. This negatively impacts the environment in a number of ways, leading to low water supplies and possible water restrictions. 
  • Mold and mildew growth. Over time, drips from the faucet lead to mold and mildew growth inside or outside of the fixture. Any kind of water collection has the potential to grow mold or mildew, and a dripping faucet creates the ideal conditions. Mold growth on the spout or faucet contaminates all the water leaving the fixture. Any mold growing in your home due to a dripping faucet has the potential to damage your home and cause harmful health side effects due to exposure.
  • Water damage. Finally, in the worst cases, a leaky faucet leads to water damage if left untreated. Though most dripping faucets are caused by small problems, there is always the potential for a larger issue to be at work. For example, water pressure problems have the potential to lead to leaky pipes as well as a dripping faucet, which opens up the possibility of water damage. 

 

Because most causes of dripping faucets are fairly easy to fix, the issue doesn’t need to persist long enough to cause major water waste or damage. Make sure to tackle your faucet leaks quickly to prevent larger issues in your home. 

DIY Ways to Fix a Dripping Faucet

Luckily, most dripping faucet problems have simple solutions. Most homeowners are able to fix these problems without the help of a plumber. Try to identify the source of the faucet leak to determine what solution or replacement component is needed.

  • Turn off the water. First and foremost, turn off the water supply before implementing DIY fixes. This ensures you and the area around the faucet remain dry throughout this process. If you leave the water supply on, as soon as you start removing parts, the water rushes through the plumbing system and creates an even bigger problem.
  • Close sink drain. Next, cover the sink drain with a rag or drain stopper. This ensures nothing you remove falls down the sink or bath drain. Faucet parts are small and easily lost in the pipes if dropped into the drain.
  • Remove the handles, packing nut, and stem. Take off the handles, packing nut, and stem to access other parts of the faucet. These parts aren’t typically the cause of a dripping faucet, but they must be removed to properly assess the actual cause of the leak. However, in some instances damage to these parts cause the drip, so check them over to ensure they are in good condition.
  • Assess the O-ring, washer, and valve seat. Next, check the O-ring, washer, and valve seat for wear and damage. Issues with these parts are the source of most dripping faucets. Remove each of these parts in order to inspect them. Look for worn areas, corrosion, or water sediment buildup. 
  • Replace parts. If you notice any of the above, replace the damaged part. It’s important to use exact matches for the existing faucet components. If the parts are slightly off, a dripping faucet continues to leak. The parts must be the correct size to ensure no water gets around the parts. When you’ve replaced the broken or damaged part, reassemble the faucet in the correct order—washer, O-ring, stem, packing nut, screw, handle.
  • Clean with white vinegar. When you have the parts out, clean them with a gentle scrubber and white vinegar. The white vinegar removes any water sediment from the parts. Cleaning the faucet parts eliminates sediment collection and reduces the chance of a dripping faucet in the future. 

When to Call A Professional for a Dripping Faucet

If the above method doesn’t remedy the faucet drip, it’s time to call a professional for help. Serious issues causing faucet drips lead to detrimental plumbing problems when not corrected, so be sure to contact a plumber quickly if your DIY attempts fail. 

  • Valve seat corrosion. Corrosion of the valve seat needs professional help because the valve seat requires a special wrench to be removed. A seat wrench usually isn’t found in the average homeowner’s toolbox, but plumbers always have one handy to replace a valve seat. Additionally, they have the tools to thoroughly clean the valve seat if needed.
  • Worn seals. Most homeowners don’t know how to replace seals, so it’s best to call a plumber to ensure it’s done correctly. Homeowners need to clean the seals regularly to prevent sediment collection, but when it’s time to replace them, call a plumber.
  • Broken plumbing. In the worst circumstances, broken plumbing leads to a dripping faucet. If you have explored all other causes of drippy faucets and came up empty, a plumber needs to assess your plumbing system to make sure nothing is wrong with piping and other vital system components.
  • Loose parts. Lastly, unidentifiable loose parts need to be tightened by a plumber. In this case, a plumber assesses the entire faucet to ensure no parts are loose. Without plumbing experience, it’s hard to determine where the loose part originates from, which means a professional plumber is the only way to truly know all parts are tightened.

Fix Your Dripping Faucet With Mr. Plumber’s Help

When a dripping faucet plagues your home, you don’t need to waste excessive amounts of money or water before getting it fixed. Fixes for dripping faucets are quick, easy, and often low cost. No matter the cause of the drip, most homeowners are able to tackle this issue on their own. 

However, when you need a plumber to help fix the problem, Mr. Plumber is here to guide you! Our trained plumbers are waiting to help you with any faucet problem you have. When you experience a dripping faucet, we provide quick solutions. Give us a call today to get a free service estimate! We also schedule a maintenance visit right there on the phone to ensure your plumbing stays in top condition.

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