Dinner’s over, and it’s time to wash the dishes. With sleeves rolled up, you reach to turn the water on, and you’re surprised by a squirt in the face from a leaky kitchen faucet base. “Oh, no,” you say, “I need to seal that.” Or maybe you are installing a new faucet.
You’re not intimidated, though. You have tools, a wrench, at least, and you can search online for how-to solutions. It can’t be too hard, you say to yourself. And, you’re right.
First Things First to Seal the Base
As with any leak, turn the water supply lines off first. Reach under the kitchen sink and turn the water off to the faucet. Righty tighty is the rule. That was pretty easy.
Secondly, remove the dishes from the kitchen sink and spread a hand towel over the drain. You don’t want anything going down the drain.
Thirdly, get your wrench and work gloves. And, finally, with the water supply lines off and no chance of another squirt in the face, loosen and remove the base.
Choosing Your Kitchen Faucet Sealant
An Internet search tells you there are three main choices:
- Silicone caulk
- Plumber’s Putty
- A new O-ring
Teflon tape might be a helpful option in some instances, too, but it’s not applicable here as there’s no pipe thread needing attention.
You know the O-ring is fine because you installed a new one just last month. So, let’s focus on the first two, silicone caulk and plumbers putty.
Choosing between Silicone Caulk and Plumber’s Putty
Each of these options is easy to work with, and each can be effective in sealing a faucet leak. The determination of which to use in your case will depend, in part, on the size of the project.
Silicone caulk will dry into a hard form, while plumber’s putty will always remain soft. The former will need time to harden, while the latter needs no time to cure.
Plumber’s putty is not an adhesive. It’s a soft and pliable sealing compound used by plumbers and DIYers to form a watertight seal around faucets, a sink drain, sinks at the counter joint, and other plumbing parts.
The putty is naturally resistant to water and works best if a sealant is needed in only a small area. It’s also very easy to work with.
Working with Silicone Caulk and Plumber’s Putty
You’ve made your choice of a cure for your leaky faucet base, made the purchase, and are ready to work. Each is easy to work with and is pretty straightforward in approach.
For plumber’s putty, take a ping pong ball size of putty, roll it between your hands into a cigar, and form it into a circle that will match the circumference of the leaky faucet base.
The base is then fit into the putty to form a good seal all around and secured into place again. Clean excess putty with your finger, make sure it looks neat around the perimeter of the base plate, and you’re done.
Bigger projects that will require a lot of sealant will be better served by using a silicone caulk that will be allowed to dry.
Silicone caulk will come in a tube, like toothpaste but with a longer nose for a more particular and localized squeeze. It’s easy to apply in the circle around the base of the leaky faucet. Then fit the base plate into the caulk, and secure the base into place again.
For an added measure, squeeze a thin stream of caulk around the outer base of the faucet. Smooth that stream around the base with your finger like you would smooth putty around a window piece of glass. Clean your finger with warm water and soap before the caulk has a chance to dry.
Sourcing Plumber’s Putty and Silicone Caulk
DIY stores, you know their names, your neighborhood hardware stores, and dedicated plumbing supply stores, will offer many choices for putty or silicone products. The salespeople can be very helpful in selecting the best product for your needs, and the right amount to buy for the job.
Because faucets, bases, sinks, and plumbing systems generally do occasionally sprout leaks from time to time, it might be a good idea to buy a little more than you need for the immediate job. It’s always better to have and not need than the other way around.
You’ve finished applying the right sealant for your leak, and the faucet base has been put back in its proper place and secured. There are just a few final steps to take:
- If you’ve used plumber’s putty, and since it does not require drying, you can turn the water supply back on. This time, lefty loosey.
- If you’ve used silicone caulk, follow the drying time instructions on the container before you turn on the water.
- Remove the cloth over the drain.
- And when the water is back on, wash those dishes.
Don’t be intimidated by the task. It’s something you can do for yourself. You’ll have saved yourself a plumber’s house call, not an inexpensive thing. And, you’ll have the satisfaction of having done the job yourself.