How To Fix A Leaky Kitchen Faucet With Two Handles

A leaky kitchen faucet is problematic, not just because the constant dripping sound is enough to drive us crazy. It can contribute to your water bill, especially if it goes on for a while. On top of that, unaddressed problems that cause the leak will only worsen, not better, so the situation will continually progress until you fix it.

Key Points:

  • Leaking kitchen faucets can drive homeowners crazy and lead to bigger water bills.
  • Most cases of leaky two-handed kitchen faucets are caused by worn-out internal components like O-rings, gaskets, washers, or damaged cartridge bodies.
  • Repairing a leaky two-handed faucet consists of a few simple steps, including turning off the water supply, removing the handle, replacing the parts, and reassembling the faucet.

For the most part, repairing a leaky, double-handle kitchen faucet is a straightforward process. Most homeowners can handle the fix without an issue, completing it in an hour or less. So, if your two-handle kitchen faucet sprung a leak, read through this guide for a how-to covering the repair!

What Is The Most Common Cause Of A Leaky, Dripping Two-Handle Faucet?

Delta Faucet Windemere 2-Handle Kitchen Sink Faucet with Side Sprayer in Matching Finish, Stainless 21996LF-SS

In most cases, the culprit behind a leaky, dripping two-handle faucet is a worn-out component. After a while, the parts inside the handle, such as the O-rings, gaskets, and washers, can become worn down due to everyday wear and tear.

In some cases, it can be a problem with the cartridge, such as damage to the cartridge body allowing water to escape when the handle is off or partially closed. However, this is less common – it’s usually the O-rings, gaskets, and washers.

How Do You Fix A Leaking Two-Handle Kitchen Faucet?

If your two-handled kitchen faucet has sprung a leak, there’s a good chance a worn-out internal component is to blame. In most cases, the repair process is pretty simple and can be completed in less than an hour, even if you’re a beginner. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Allen wrench
  • Pipe wrench or tongue-and-groove pliers
  • Replacement parts
  • Plumber’s grease

Check The Water Temperature

Before you start disassembling the faucet, check the temperature of the leaking water. In some cases, the water will be noticeably hot or cold, which gives a good indication of where the problem is. If your faucet is leaking hot water, the problem lies with the left (hot) handle, but if the water is cold, the issue is on the opposite side.

In some cases, the water might be in between, indicating an issue with both sides.

Turn Off The Water

Once you determine which side of the faucet the problem originates from, turn off the water supply to the faucet. In most homes, an isolated set of shutoff valves underneath the kitchen sink controls water flow to the faucet.

Simply turn each handle clockwise until it stops to turn off the water. If there are levers instead of knobs, turn them until they’re perpendicular to the water pipes or tubing.

Alternatively, if your kitchen faucet has no shut-off valves, you’ll need to turn the water off at the main shut-off valve. You can usually find the main valve wherever the water main enters your home.

Once you turn off the water supply, open both handles of the faucet to drain excess water from the lines. After the water stops flowing, turn the handles back to the off position.

Remove The Faucet Handle

After the water is off, you can start disassembling the faucet. First, you’ll need to remove the faucet handle on the affected side (or both if necessary). The removal process varies based on the type of faucet you have, as some brands incorporate unique designs into their models.

Some faucets feature decorative caps covering the screw hole, so you’ll need to find it and pry it off to expose the screw hole. Once you uncover the screw, unthread it with the appropriate screwdriver or hex wrench.

Some faucets feature decorative trim that secures the handle to the countertop. While this design is more common with bathroom faucets, some kitchen faucets utilize this design. Simply turn the decorative trim clockwise while securing the handle with your opposite hand.

Once you unthread the screw or decorative trim, you should be able to lift the handle away from the counter.

Note: If you don’t know how to remove your faucet’s handles, check the owner’s manual and the instructions that came with the tap. They should outline how to remove the handles in the troubleshooting section.

If you don’t have these documents on hand, you can find them online by searching your faucet’s name. Click on your tap on the brand or seller’s website, then scroll to the “Supporting Documents” or “Product Information” section. There should be an instructions manual and troubleshooting guide that can help you remove the handles from your faucet.

Take Off The Retaining Nut

Once the handles are off and set aside, loosen the cartridge retaining nut. Use a pair of tongue-and-groove pliers or a pipe wrench to loosen the nut. Once it’s loose, finish unthreading and removing the nut from the faucet body by hand.

At this point, check for a screw in the top of the cartridge. In some faucets, there will be a brass screw securing the cartridge shaft in place, helping it remain steady when the faucet body is tightened. If you find one, remove it and set it aside for later.

Lift Out The Cartridge

Before you lift out the cartridge, take a picture of it. You’ll need to reinsert the cartridge the same way, so ensure you take note of its orientation in the faucet body.

Lift the cartridge directly up and out of the faucet body. In some cases, you might need to use pliers to grasp the shaft at the top of the cartridge for easier removal.

Check For Damage

Now that the cartridge is out examine the parts in the faucet body and around the cartridge. Look for damaged O-rings, worn gaskets, and damaged washers. If you find these components are damaged, replace them as necessary.

However, if the cartridge is damaged, you’ll need to replace it altogether to correct the problem. New cartridges usually come with new rubber O-rings, so you won’t need to replace them if you’re replacing the cartridge.

While you can buy a replacement cartridge from your local home improvement store, it’s often best to buy an exact replacement from the manufacturer of your faucet. You’ll need to wait for it to ship and arrive, but you won’t need to worry about a generic replacement not working.

Reassemble The Faucet

Once you have the replacement parts on hand, reassemble the faucet. Retrace your steps from the disassembly process. Reinsert the cartridge in its proper orientation, screw in the brass screw to stabilize the cartridge (if applicable), and tighten the retaining nut. Reattach the handle and secure it into place.

Test Your Handiwork

Dura Faucet DF-PK350L-SN RV Non-Metallic Two-Handle Pull-Down Kitchen Sink Faucet (Brushed Satin Nickel)

After the faucet is reassembled, it’s time to test your handiwork. Turn the water back on at the shut-off valves underneath the sink or at the water main. Check the faucet for leaks by turning the water on and off, watching for leaks where they were before.

If you only replaced one component, like an O-ring or washer, and it still leaks, you might need to replace the entire cartridge. If the faucet still leaks and you replaced the cartridge, you might need to replace the cartridge in the other handle or tighten down the retaining nut.

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