How To Easily Fix A Leaky Outdoor Faucet

An outdoor faucet, also commonly known as a spigot or hose bibb, helps out a lot in the backyard. You can do everything from watering plants, filling pools, washing cars, or cleaning your equipment after gardening.

With so much usage, it’s not uncommon for them to stop working properly after a while. Eventually, things erode, and this often results ion leaking problems when things break down. If you want to learn how to fix a leaking outdoor faucet, here are some common reasons for what causes it and steps to fix it. 

What Is An Outdoor Faucet?

leaky outdoor faucet

Outdoor faucets help you manage exterior water flow in the home. Mainly installed in the backyard, outdoor faucets produce a convenient water supply to handle tasks like irrigating your garden or watering your vehicles.

An outdoor faucet significantly differs from an indoor faucet. While indoor faucets dispense hot and cold water, an outdoor faucet comes with a single line for cold water. Indoor faucets are prone to other problems like little to no water to come out or leaks. Spigots are made from sturdier materials and can withstand adverse weather far better.

Problems of A Leaky Outdoor Spigot

Many homeowners rarely give their hose bib any attention, but this can cause problems. Here are the dangers of having a leaky outdoor faucet:

Increased water use - A dripping outdoor faucet will balloon your water usage. Those tiny drips can add up quickly and make conserving water harder.

For example, a plumbing fixture that leaks 4,000 times in a day can fill a one-liter container. That is a lot of water, especially if you don’t catch the leak in time.

Spike in utility bills - Water leaks lead to increased water usage, which ultimately result in a higher cost in your water bills. It’s much cheaper to get it fixed than it is to let it continue. 

Damage to your yard - Regular leaking will damage the environment in your yard, which can be a big issue if you have a garden. This is why fixing the spigot as soon as possible is essential. 

5 Ways To Fix A Leaking Faucet

A leaky spigot can be a pain to deal with, especially if it leads to contaminated water in the home or causes mildew and rot in the backyard. However, you can fix this problem yourself without needing to call an expensive plumber. In terms of equipment, you might need the following: pipe adjustable wrench, screwdrivers and pliers, graphite, ruling tape, spray lubricant, and replacement parts like spigots, washers, vacuum breakers, etc.

Now before you go ahead and try and doing anything, it's extremely important you turn off your water supply. You'll need to locate the shutoff-valve and completely turn off any water pressure in the home. The shutoff valve tends to be located right by your water heater and water meter.

Tighten The Packing Nut

If the retaining packing nut isn't screwed in properly, you could have a leaking faucet on your hands. You can find the packing nut behind the faucet handle and tighten it with an adjustable wrench to solve the problem. Sometimes a high water pressure might also cause things to become loose. While high water pressure might be good in your shower head, it's not the most ideal for pipes in certain circumstances.

Check The Valve Stem

The valve stem is the next logical option if the packing nut checks out. Like the washer, a bad valve stem can affect the performance of your faucet. The faucet stem is prone to wear and tear, which limits its ability to control water flow.

Sometimes, the problem is not from the valve stem but related equipment. For example, loose retaining nuts will prevent the existing faucet from closing and induce faucet leaks.

A worn out valve stem will probably have signs of cracking and other deformities and needs replacement.

Inspect The Washer

It’s possible the washer unit is broken. Tightening the washer is easy, but replacing a broken unit can take more time. A worn-out washer cannot connect the pipe to the water supply, which leaves room for water to seep.

To replace the washer, you first need to loosen the tap and unscrew the packing nut. Then you must detach the valve stem and detach the faucet washer. Replace the washer, return the stem to its original position, and tighten the returning nut.

You should turn on your water supply after installing a new washer and check for leaking. If the problem persists, you will have to check the spigot next.

Inspect The Spigot For Damage

The spigot dispenses water when you turn it. While spigots last long, they may wear out due to age, rust, or stripping. In that case, you need to replace the leaky faucet. It's not uncommon for faucets to freeze in winter and crack. Water will flow out of these holes and lead to leakage. Therefore, winterizing faucets is important to extend their lifespan, so be sure to add it to your yearly maintenance list. Otherwise you can simply buy a frost proof faucet. 

To install frost proof faucets, you first turn off the shutoff valve to stop water from flowing. Second, drain excess water from the pipe by unscrewing the outdoor spigot. Then you must uninstall the leaky faucet and detach the latter from the pipe.

The next stage involves cleaning the spigot and applying plumber's gum to the spigot threading. If no leaks show up again, then you have solved the problem. However, there's one last place to check if changing the spigot cannot fix problems: the vacuum breakers. 

Inspect The Vacuum Breaker

The vacuum breaker in your hose bibb is built to prevent backflow. That means it stops water that hasn't left the faucet from returning to the plumbing lines. A worn vacuum breaker might not close all the way, which gives room for water to leak out of the faucet.

To check the state of your vacuum breaker, you'll need a screwdriver and pliers. Once you've removed the vacuum breaker plate and detached the fixture, check for signs of wear and damage. Suppose the vacuum breaker is in good condition, then cleaning the vacuum breaker might fix the issue.

About the author 

Ryan Thompson is a residential and commercial plumber from Miami, Florida. He has over 20+ years of plumbing experience. He is also a huge DIY enthusiast who does all types of improvement projects around the house.

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