Is your leaky faucet driving you crazy? That incessant drip…drip…drip may be enough to keep you awake at night, cause you stress and anger during the day, and rack up your water bills.

The faucet itself may not be the issue. The leak may be a symptom of an underlying problem. If your faucet won’t stop dripping, or it’s especially difficult to shut off all the way, you may have one of the following problems.

Reasons for Leaky Faucets

A Defective O-Ring

The problem could be as simple as your faucet’s O-ring wearing out and needing to be replaced. The O-ring is made of rubber, so often deteriorates over time, which breaks the seal around the faucet spout and lets water leak out where it shouldn’t. O-rings can be found on compression, ball type, cartridge, and ceramic disk faucet designs, and they are very easy and inexpensive to replace. Many homeowners don’t realize this, however, and spend money on replacing the entire faucet, which is often unnecessary.

A Worn or Improperly Installed Washer

This is another easy fix that could be the source of the nuisance. The washer on your faucet could be made of rubber or metal, and it could simply be worn out and need to be replaced. This small, couple-dollar problem could be the source of your insanity. If you examine your faucet and the washer is still in good condition, it’s possible that it’s the wrong size. Make sure the correct size is in place.

A Corroded Valve Seat

Sediment can build up around the valve seat portion of your faucet, where the spout and faucet base connect. If the valve seat is corroded or worn down, it’ll leak and won’t be able to do its job effectively. This is an easy thing to fix: pull off the seal from the spout and replace it with a new one. Many homeowners don’t know about this quick fix and purchase a whole new faucet instead.

A Loose Packing Nut

Does your faucet leak near the handle or the spout? If it’s near the handle, the packing nut needs to be tightened. Make sure it’s not corroded, or it may need to be replaced. If it’s in good shape, carefully tighten (but not too hard) both handles. If you over tighten and strip the threads in the handles, you could turn a small expense into a very costly one.

Compromised or Damaged Pipes Leading to the Faucet

If this ends up being the issue, it should be addressed as soon as possible. The longer a broken water pipe or fitting is left to leak, the more damage will accrue over time. Cracks in piping may also throw off the water pressure, causing you more issues with your faucet. The longer this situation is left unaddressed, the worse the condition of your piping and anything around it exposed to moisture will get.

Final Tips

Before making any repairs to your sink or faucet, make sure to turn off its water supply flow.
If your faucet is 10 years of age or more, consider replacing it. If you find yourself continuously treating symptoms, you might as well deal with the underlying problem by replacing. Also, the older your faucet is, the more difficult it will be to find replacement parts for it. However, if your faucet is less than 10 years old, don’t go running to the store for a new faucet without thinking twice. The problem could be simple and easy to fix, costing you little to nothing.