Do you have a faucet in your Boise, ID, home that is leaking or constantly dripping? A faucet that keeps dripping is often the result of a worn-out rubber O-ring, but it can also occur for different reasons. The cause really depends on the specific type of faucet you have.

There are four main types of faucets: ball, cartridge, disc, and compression washer. Each of these faucets works slightly differently, which means that each one can leak due to a different issue. You’ll need to determine what type of faucet you have in order to figure out the reason that it is leaking.

Compression Washer Faucets

Compression washer faucets are the oldest type of faucet available and have been around since indoor plumbing was first introduced. This type of faucet is most commonly found in older homes. Nowadays, compression washer faucets are mostly used for utility sinks where style and quality aren’t a major concern. This is the least expensive type of faucet, but it isn’t used all that often because it is more prone to leaking than other types.

A compression washer faucet has a separate hot and cold handle on either side of the tap and looks similar to a cartridge faucet. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is how the handles move and feel when you turn the water on and off. When the water is flowing on a compression washer faucet, you have to turn the handles at least a full turn. You also have to exert a bit of pressure on the handles to tighten them down and shut off the flow of water. In a cartridge faucet, the handles move more smoothly. You just need to move the handles a half-turn to turn the faucet on and off.

Inside each handle is a compression stem. This is essentially a screw with a rubber washer at the end of it. The rubber washer seals the valve seat so that water doesn’t flow when the faucet is off. When you turn the handle to open the faucet, the screw moves up, and the washer is no longer sealing the valve seat. Water starts flowing.

The reason that compression washer faucets are more prone to leaking is that the rubber washer will wear out over time. As the washer wears out, it no longer fully seals the valve seat. A small amount of water can leak out even when the handles are fully closed. Replacing the rubber washer is an easy fix that will only take a plumber a few minutes. In fact, it takes more time to take the faucet apart and put it back together than it does to replace the washer.

Cartridge Faucets

Two-handle cartridge faucets are commonly found in bathrooms and also in some kitchens. Each of the handles in this type of faucet has a hollow plastic or metal cartridge that sits inside a valve and seals the spout. When you turn the handle to open the faucet, the cartridge moves up so that the spout isn’t sealed, and water starts flowing. As you turn the handle further, the cartridge opens further to allow more water to flow out.

Although cartridge faucets are quite durable and don’t require much maintenance, they can leak or drip for a few different reasons. The most common reason is that the cartridge is worn out and no longer properly sealed. When this happens, you’ll need to have the cartridge replaced to stop the faucet from dripping or leaking. Replacing a cartridge is a simple task, but some cartridges are expensive. The cost can be $100 or more.

Cartridge faucets can also be prone to issues caused by sediment or mineral deposits. When the cartridge gets coated in mineral deposits, it can no longer move properly. This prevents it from fully closing when you turn the handle off. Sediment can also get trapped inside the cartridge, causing it to get stuck partially open. A small amount of water will constantly run. A plumber may be able to fix the issue easily if sediment is stuck inside, preventing the cartridge from fully closing. If the cartridge has lots of mineral deposits, you’ll want to have it replaced.

Disc Faucets

The handle on a disc faucet is a lever connected to a cylindrical body that sticks out from the side of the spout. To open the faucet, you just need to pull the level slightly downward. You can then control the temperature of the water by rotating the handle from side to side. Inside this type of faucet is a pressure balance chamber where the hot and cold water mix. At the bottom of this chamber are two ceramic discs that move up and down to control how much water flows. One disc controls the hot water, and the other controls the cold water.

When you pull the level to turn the faucet on, one or both discs raise to allow water to flow. As you adjust the water temperature, the discs raise or lower accordingly to allow more or less hot and cold water to flow. These discs can degrade over time or break, which will lead to the faucet continually dripping or leaking. The discs can be replaced, but fixing or replacing a disc faucet can be a bit more expensive than with the other types of faucets.

Ball Faucets

Ball faucets are commonly found in kitchens and have a single hand that sits and moves on a rounded cap. The handle pulls up to open the faucet, and you can then move it back and forth on the cap to adjust the water temperature. Inside the faucet is a metal or plastic ball that has slots in it that allow hot and cold water to flow out depending on the position of the handle. The ball also has rubber O-rings and rubber seals that stop or control the flow of the hot and cold water. These O-rings and seals are prone to wearing out with age, which makes this type of faucet more prone to leaking. Ball faucets also have more internal components than other types of faucets. This tends to make diagnosing what is causing the faucet to leak more difficult.

Other Issues That Can Cause a Faucet to Leak or Drip

Faucets can also start leaking or dripping because your water pressure is slightly too high or the valve seat is deteriorated or corroded. High water pressure usually won’t cause a faucet to run constantly. Instead, the faucet may sporadically drip at different times. When the pressure is too high, the water can’t flow smoothly and will start backing up inside the plumbing system. This backup then leads to water starting to drip out of one or more faucets since all of the excess water has to find somewhere to flow to.

The valve seat is what connects the main part of the faucet to the spout where the water flows out. If the valve seat is corroded or has started to deteriorate, it will often cause water to leak out around the base of the faucet. This usually happens when the water is on, but sometimes the faucet will leak a small amount of water even when it’s shut off. If the valve seat is corroded or deteriorated, the only option is to replace the entire faucet.

At Perfect, Plumbing Heating & Air, we’ve been providing exceptional plumbing, heating, and air conditioning services to customers in Boise and throughout the Treasure Valley area for 40 years. If you’re dealing with a leaky faucet or need any other plumbing services in you kitchen or bathroom or HVAC repairs or installation services, give us a call to get the expert assistance you need.

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