Indoor faucets use modern mechanisms, allowing you to fix any possible issues without too much hassle. However, understanding how to fix a leaky hose bib can be an entirely different story.
What might seem as a little leak can lead to a whole lot of troubles later on. While you might think it doesn’t matter as the leak is happening outdoors, this is far from the truth. All types of leaks can cause much damage to your property.
If you want to know how to fix a leaky hose bib without paying for a plumber, you’re on the right spot. Here is a quick DIY guide!
How Do Hose Bibs Work?
Hose bibs – also known as outdoor faucets – use older designs that are similar to regular compression-style faucets. They use threaded stems with a neoprene washer or a rubber to control the water. This stem presses down the opening of a metal valve seat, stopping the flow of water.
The hose bib has a handle that is attached to the inner stem. By pressing it, you lift or lower the stem, opening and closing the flow of water. Several wrappings of waterproof string prevent the water from seeping up around the stem, as well as out around. These wrappings are located under the packing nut.
All of this is important because you cannot know how to fix a leaky hose bib without understanding how these faucets work.
Why Are Hose Bib Leaks Dangerous?
Research has shown that the average household loses 10,000 gallons of water on leaks. About 10% of homes lose more than 90 gallons of water daily! Many of these leaks come from outdoor faucets, as homeowners pay less attention to them.
Even if the leak happens on the outdoor hose bib, it still provides a danger to your entire property. Here are some of the most common problems that can occur if you don’t prevent leaks on time:
- Problems with mold and mildew
- Contamination of household water
- Higher utility bills
- Damage to ceiling and attic
- Structural damage
- Financial damage
- Fire hazard
This is why it’s important that at least one member of a household knows how to fix a broken outside faucet pipe and to repair a leaky hose bib. If you have water drainage problems in your yard, this is another reason to fix everything as quickly as possible.
How to Fix a Leaky Hose Bib?
To fix a leaky hose bib, you’ll need:
- Adjustable wrench or channel-lock pliers
- Graphite packing string
- Faucet washing assortment
You might also buy a hose bib repair kit from your local hardware store.
The next thing you should do is examine your outdoor faucet and find out where the leak is located. Do you have a hose bib leaking from top? Maybe you have an outdoor faucet leaking from hole in stem? All of this can influence your approach. If you have an outside faucet leaking when hose attached, for example, the problem might be in the hose itself.
Of course, if the damage is too great, it might be better to replace an entire outdoor faucet.
Hoping this isn’t the case, here is a quick DIY guide on how to fix a leaky hose bib:
The first thing you need to do is to turn off the water source. This typically means you need to turn off the main water valve located inside your house. This valve controls the water flow to the hose bib. To turn the valve off, you should turn the handle entirely in the clockwise direction.
Some hose bibs don’t have a shutoff valve that works specifically on them. If this is the case, you should turn off the water supply to your entire house. Of course, you need to let your household members know that you’re about to do this.
If your outdoor faucet leaks when turned off, this should ensure the leak has stopped.
Now, take a screwdriver and remove the screw connecting the hose bib handle to the valve stem. Then, remove the handle. As outdoor handles aren’t used that often, you might have to wiggle it a bit. Set the handle and the screw aside, on some place you’ll easily find them later.
Take your adjustable wrench or channel-lock pliers and unscrew the packing nut. This is the nut securing the valve stem to the hose bib’s body.
Once you’ve unscrewed the packing nut, it ‘s time to remove the valve stem from the hose bib’s body. This usually means you’ll have to unscrew the stem from the body of the faucet. This might sometime mean that you have turn the stem in a clockwise direction instead of a standard counterclockwise.
Next, you should inspect the stem washer. It’s usually made of neoprene or rubber. If you see any deformities on it, such as cracks, change in texture, or other issues, this is likely the cause of your hose bib leaks. In other words, it’s time for a hose bib stem replacement.
Unscrew the screw that is keeping the washer in place. It’s usually made of brass. Be careful not to break it! Brass is a metal that’s prone to breakages. Fortunately, most washer kits come with replacement screws, so this shouldn’t be a too bug issue.
Pick the exact replacement for your stem washer and put it in place of the old stem washer you had.
If the stem isn’t a problem, it might be time to replace the packing string. Unwrap the old one from around the stem underneath the packing nut. Then, take the new string and wrap it around the stem. From your point of view, you need to wrap it clockwise.
You might also use a fiber packing washer, as it has the same function. Many washer kits come with various types of packing washers.
Finally, it’s time to reassemble the faucet. Connect the valve stem to the faucet body, and thread the nut on the hose bib. Make sure the packing nut is tightened, but not too hard. A gentle move of a wrench should be enough. Finally, put the handle back on the stem.
Inspect the faucet a bit to make sure it’s operating properly. Everything should move as it was before you’ve unscrewed everything. If the handle is challenging to turn, you might have tightened the packing nut too hard. Loosen it up a bit and try again. The handle should move around freely, and you should have a feeling of the washer compressing down inside the hose bib.
The last step is to turn the water back on, then check out to see if the faucet is working properly. If it is, this means you’ve done everything right. However, wait for a little while, then inspect for leaks.
Don’t panic if you see the leak reappearing. Chances are you simply have a loose packing nut. Tighten it a bit more, and make sure to wipe the faucet. You might mistake the drops from a previous leak with a new one.
The Bottom Line
If you wanted to know how to fix a leaky hose bib, the above steps should be enough. By replacing the stem and the packing string, you have replaced two of the main culprits for this issue. Of course, inspect other parts of your outdoor water system, such as the hose. It’s also important to prepare your hose bib for winter, as this is the most common time when outdoor faucets get damaged.
Keep in mind that some problems might be too much for you to handle, even if you have some experience with plumbing work. For example, an outside water spigot leaking inside house can be a severe issue that requires professional help. Don’t hesitate to call plumbers when it’s needed.