Plumbing: Faucet Repair: Cartridge and Ball

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Usually the hardest part to repairing a faucet is finding the right replacement parts. Hardware and plumbing supply stores normally carry parts for common models, but if you have a faucet from a small manufacturer, you may have to special-order replacement parts. (Sometimes it's easier to simply replace the whole darn faucet.) Most repair kits include thorough instructions and some of the specialized tools you'll need. Examine the faucet closely to determine where the leak is coming from. Leaks around the base of a spout require a different repair than a drip from the end of a spout. After you turn off the water supply, open the valve in the center position to relieve water pressure.

Pay close attention to the order and orientation of the parts as you remove them. A digital camera is handy for recording each step in case you forget later. Set the parts aside in the order you removed them. When all the parts are out, inspect the interior of the valve for bits of deteriorated gaskets or mineral deposits. To clean these surfaces, use a cloth or fine-abrasive nylon pad.

Slow water flow can be caused by plugged holes in the faucet body. Use a small screwdriver to clean them out. Before you replace worn parts and reassemble the faucet, hold a rag over the faucet and open the water shutoff valve slightly to flush out loosened debris, catching it in the rag. Here are other tips to remember when you repair a faucet of any type:

  • Always take old faucet parts with you to the store to get an exact match.
  • Plug or cover drains and strainer baskets to avoid losing small parts.
  • Line sink with a towel to prevent dropped tools from damaging it.
  • Slow flow is frequently caused by a plugged aerator. Simply remove it, clean it and return it to its place. If it still works poorly, replace it.
Handle, cover, Cap, Handle screw, indicator, Handle adapter, Pivot nut, Washer,  Valve stem, Retainer clip, Cartridge, Faucet body, Aerator

Cartridge-Type Faucet

Cartridges are used in both single- and double-handled faucets. If the levers or knobs on your two-handled faucet turn only 90° to 180°, you most likely have a cartridge-type faucet. On a cartridge faucet, the handle is secured to the faucet by a screw that's hidden under a cap.

To stop drips at the spout or correct problems with hot and cold mixing, remove the cartridge and replace either the O-rings on the cartridge if they're damaged or the entire cartridge. Don't be surprised if the cartridge seems stuck. It may take considerable force to pull it out. Really stubborn cartridges require the use of a special cartridge-pulling tool.
(continue on to Ball-Type Faucet...)

Recommended Reading

Advanced Plumbing

Advanced Plumbing

Sidey, Ken (Editor)
Stanley Complete Projects Made Easy
Bargain Book Copy
Kitchen and bath remodels are among the most popular home improvements. But plumbing can be intimidating. Advanced Plumbing builds confidence and expands capabilities with comprehensive, easy-to-follow instructions. Install bathroom fixtures, including toilet, sink, shower stall, and whirlpool tub. Replace a kitchen sink and faucet. Add a dishwasher and water filter. Unclog drains. Repair and replace water heaters. Simple, detailed steps guide you through each project. More than 400 photos and illustrations present clear instruction. Directions written in understandable, everyday language provide all the information you need for great results.

Note: Bargain books are new, unread books that the publisher sells-off in volume to reduce excess inventory. Sometimes the publisher printed too many copies, in other cases bookstores purchased too many copies and have returned them to the publisher for credit. The books therefore have been handled a few times but are still in excellent condition.

In either case, the publisher may place a mark on the edge of the book to identify it as a Bargain Book. This ensures the book will never get returned to the publisher for credit. In most cases the mark is a small line or dot, however sometimes it's large. Product with excessive marking isn't sold through our web site.

Recommended Products

Medallion Kitchen Faucet (Antique Bronze)

Medallion Kitchen Faucet (Antique Bronze)

Eclectic high arch design mixes traditionally detailed handles with a streamlined barrel spout and post mount configuration. Reach: 10in. Spout height: 10-1/2in. Faucet height: 13in.

Milano Faucet (Stainless)

Milano Faucet (Stainless)

Graceful, but hip, with an exceptionally fluid style. Reach: 9-1/4in. Spout height: 7-1/4in. Faucet height: 10-1/2in.

Heavy Duty 16 Swing Nozzle Faucet  8 Center

Heavy Duty 16 Swing Nozzle Faucet 8 Center

Heavy Duty 16"" Swing Nozzle Faucet 8"" Center

More | go to top of page

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Handle setscrew, Cap, Ball, Inlet seals, Aerator

Ball-Type Faucet

Water flow and temperature in a rotary-ball faucet are controlled by a hollow plastic or steel ball that rotates in a socket. If water is leaking around the base of the handle, you may be able to fix it by removing the handle and simply tightening the cap. If it still leaks, replace the O-rings around the faucet body. If the faucet drips from the end of the spout, replace the seats and springs. Plastic or brass balls are softer than stainless steel balls and can become scratched by debris. Inspect the ball and , if you see damage, replace it with a stainless steel one. Be sure to align all the parts properly as you reassemble the faucet.

Last modified: Tuesday, 2009-02-24 1:48 PST