Fixing a Leaky Outdoor Spigot

Fixing A Dripping Spigot

A dripping outdoor spigot is a minor annoyance but can lead to major problems if not addressed in a timely manner. Not only is it wasting water and costing you money, it also creates damp patches of soil around the foundation of your house.

Avoiding Water Damage

If left unchecked, the damp soil could lead to ground expansion under the foundation of your house. This expansion might then lead to a water pipe pushing against the concrete foundation and cause a slab leak. More details about slab leaks can be found here.

 

(Editor’s note: the terms “spigot”, “hose bib” and “outdoor faucet” are often used interchangeably. They mean the same thing)

 


 

Costs

Out of sight, out of mind? Well, the fix is actually quite straightforward to perform, with the parts costing you just a few dollars from your local hardware supply store like Home Depot.

 

Parts

Inside the hose spigot, there is a valve stem, sometimes a few inches long, up to as much as 12 inches. On the end of the valve stem is a small rubber washer. Over time, from heat and continued use, it wears out and no longer provides a water-tight seal.

 

hose bib valve stem that leaks

hose bib valve stem that leaks


 

Step by Step How To Fix A Dripping Spigot Instructions

Sometimes, the spigot just needs to be tightened up to properly seal from water leaks.

 

If the spigot is leaking around the valve stem when the water is turned on, it can usually be fixed by tightening the packing nut behind the handle 1/8 to 1/4 turn.

 

outdoor leaky hose bib

outdoor leaky hose bib

 

If the faucet still leaks after tightening the packing nut, the washer on the end of the valve stem needs to be replaced. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Turn the water off at the water meter using a cut-off key.
    • Open the water meter cover.
    • You may need a meter key to open the meter cover.
    • The water meter is usually located close to the road. The lid is made of metal.
    • With your cut off key, slowly turn the valve clockwise to shut off the water supply. It should turn about 180 degrees.
  2. Back at the wall of your home, open the spigot by turning the handle anti-clockwise to release any air or water pressure.
  3. Unscrew the packing nut beneath the handle of the spigot. Use a pair of channel locks to hold the body of the spigot still while using an adjustable wrench to loosen up the packing nut.
  4. Once loosened, hold the faucet handle, and pull the valve stem out of the spigot. The valve stem will look similar to the one in the picture (it may be shorter)
  5. Remove the screw on the valve stem holding the faucet washer.
  6. Replace the washer with one of the same size. ( obviously, the new one will be thicker)
  7. Push the valve stem back into the spigot housing.
  8. Tighten the packing nut on the spigot with an adjustable wrench until snug.
  9. Turn the faucet handle clockwise to close it off.
  10. Use the cut-off key to turn the water back on at the meter. Turn it slowly about 180 degrees anti-clockwise to turn the water supply back on.
  11. Turn the spigot back on to remove any air from the line and let it run for several seconds.
  12. Check for leaks around the packing nut on the valve stem.
  13. Turn it back off and check the for any leaks. Note, you may see drips for several seconds once the water has been turned off. This is normal. The remaining water in the spigot chamber is just draining out.

worn washer on valve stem causing water leaks

before replacing valve washer

replacing valve washer in spigot

after replacing valve washer


How to Replace Your Spigot Instructional Video

This video from the Dallas water utilities conservation department shows you step by step instructions for replacing the washer on the spigot stem. A slow drip from a faucet is usually caused by a worn out washer like the one shown above.