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How to Fix a Leaky Faucet (Without Calling the Plumber)

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Recently, when the bathroom faucet in the apartment I share with my boyfriend sprung a leak, we did what most people do -- we called a plumber. But after eying the bill (and calculating that the same money would have covered several nice dinners out), I realized how great my Mom has it. My Dad is Mr. Fixit. Case in point? His idea of a perfect Saturday afternoon: Wandering the aisles of Home Depot, browsing for the perfect spot gun welder (what is that?). So I decided to do a little research and become my own Fixit.

Here’s what I found out:

1. The (EPA) estimates that the average home wastes about 11,000 gallons of water every year due to (very fixable) drips and leaks.

2. Nine times out of 10, the drip is caused by a worn-out washer, which looks like a tiny,  flat, metal (or rubber) donut hidden directly under the faucet handle.

3. Washers take about five minutes to replace.

Here’s what you’ll need:

- A Screwdriver

- Pliers

- 2-3 Washers

Fixing It - Here's How:

READ THIS FIRST! Complete steps 1-3 before you go to the hardware store. This way, you can take the old washers with you to show the employee in case you need help finding the right replacement. If your faucet didn’t have washers in the first place, just explain to the store clerk what you’re doing and he should be able to point you to what you’ll need.

Turn off the water. The valve handle cutting off the water is by the pipes under the sink. Turn it clockwise (right).

Plug the sink drain. Trust us, you don’t want to lose a bolt/washer/your wedding ring down there.

Take off the faucet handle. Unscrew the screw on top of the handle. Sometimes there is a plastic cover on top of the handle hiding the screws; pop it off with a flat screwdriver. Once the screws are out, pop off the handle itself.

Put on new washer. If there’s a washer already on there, take it off. If not, just slide on the new one.

Put everything back. Screw on the handle, turn the water pressure handle left, and check your work by turning on the faucet.

If it still leaks…there's no shame in calling a plumber... now.

-- Colleen Canney

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