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How to Repair a Leaky Outdoor Faucet0

Is it just normal wear and tear when products that were installed at the same time begin to fail at the same time?  Not one but three of our 10-year old faucets began dripping incessantly this fall within weeks of each other. 

Once over the irritation of three separate repair projects, I was grateful that we are tool-handy and can repair these leaks without calling for the plumber.  Can you?  Just buy a repair kit, follow directions, and fix it yourself.


      Correct repair kit for your faucet (check model/manufacturer/age)


  • Pliers/vise grips
  • Flathead screwdriver
  •  Plumber’s silicon

1.  Turn off the water supply to the house and drain the faucet.  Arrange the new parts as numbered in the repair kit diagram, matching the old ones as they are removed.  If you get lost, this line-up can help.  Some of the old parts may not look exactly like the new ones.

2.  Loosen the retaining screw in the center of the handle and remove both.

3.  Steady the faucet assembly with vise grips to prevent rotation while loosening/removing the packing nut with pliers.

4.  Grasp the exposed valve stem with pliers to pull it from the opening.  Remove the packing nut, packing, packing washer, and check valve from the end with longitudinal ridges called “splines.”  In our kit, two different check valves (un-beveled and beveled) are provided for older versus newer faucets. 

5.  Remove the retainer screw and valve seat rubber inside the “bulging” un-splined end of the valve stem.  Set the bare valve stem aside for reinstallation.

6.  Remove the cap and two inner components of the vacuum breaker float assembly.  This device breaks the vacuum in the faucet to allow water to drain, thus preventing backflow and freezing. 

7.  Apply plumber’s silicon lightly to the new threaded and rubberized components as they’re reassembled.  Do not add silicon to the inner gasket of the vacuum breaker float.

8.  Secure the new valve seat rubber with its retainer screw on the un-splined end of the valve stem, tightening gently with a screw driver.

9.  Slide the new check valve up the valve stem from the splined end, covering the stationary collar and groove behind the bulging end.  Slip the new packing washer up to the little nub on the valve stem, then add the packing, and packing nut.

10.  Reinsert the valve stem in the tap opening, un-splined end first, and tighten the packing nut. 

11.  Replace the handle, securing it with its retaining screw.

12.  Add the inner pieces of the new vacuum breaker float kit; finger-tighten the nut and snug gently with pliers.  Wait to replace the cap.  Restore the water supply to the house and turn on the faucet to confirm that water flows only from the tap–nothing should leak from the vacuum breaker float assembly.  If it leaks, disassemble the parts, review instructions, and try again!  If there are no leaks, then replace the cap to complete the project.

text and photos by Sandra Simmons

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