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Should I Repair or Replace a Leaky Faucet?

A drop of water hangs out of a water tap faucet

Faucets are small, yet important, parts of your home. When they work normally, you probably don’t think much about them. If not, the decision over faucet repair or replacement can be unclear. Generally, kitchen and bathroom faucets can last 10 years or more (some can last 15 to 20 years), but this depends on many factors. Hard water or more frequent use can reduce a faucet’s lifespan. If you’re undecided on repairing or replacing a noisy, spouting, or leaking faucet, continue reading for some helpful guidance.

Should You Repair It?

Many issues are fixable because faucets come with replaceable parts. Common trouble points include O-rings. An O-ring is a piece of rubber that fits around the valve stem; it can become loose or damaged through normal wear and tear. Corroded valve seats can disrupt the seal that prevents water from leaking. A valve seat connects the compression mechanism to the cartridge. Damaged or loose washers can occur with regular use, while worn inlet and outlet seals in disk cartridge faucets can cause trouble as well.

The most common faucet problems requiring repairs include:

  • Leaks/Drips: A leak is often the first sign internal parts are wearing down or failing. If a leak occurs from under the handle, a worn O-ring may need to be replaced. If the faucet is dripping, a corroded valve seat or loose washer may be the cause. Leaks can also occur internally, which can cause an incorrect mixture of hot and cold water. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a leaky faucet, at one drip per second, can waste over 3,000 gallons per year.1 This is one reason why leaky faucet repair is so important.
  • Irregular Water Flow: The stream of water from a faucet should be constant. If the water is instead spitting, sputtering, or spraying, there may be internal damage. Call a professional to inspect and repair the unit. Irregular flow can be caused by a clogged aerator filter or air that has collected in water lines. Waiting for repairs can lead to additional damage that could have been avoided.
  • Squeaking Noises: If the handle squeaks when turned, and applying grease doesn’t resolve the problem, a repair is needed. Squeaking is often caused by worn threads in the faucet handle, but it can be caused by a loose washer too. The valve stem may be worn out, causing loose parts to flap around. High water pressure can cause the faucet to squeal, or there may be debris lodged in the pipes or the faucet itself.
  • Low Water Pressure: While low water pressure can indicate a water line break or sewer line blockage, it may also be caused by a clogged aerator or cartridge. Debris and mineral deposits can reduce water pressure; this is a likely scenario if the problem is limited to just one faucet. Other causes can include crushed or kinked supply lines under the sink, limiting the flow of water to the faucet.

A plumber who has diagnosed the problem and has the appropriate parts can repair a bathroom faucet in anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes.2 Repair costs depend on the part, the type of faucet, and the extent of the damage.

What Kind of Faucet Do You Have?

Hands plumber at work in a bathroom, plumbing repair service

The type and brand of faucet you have will impact your decision. High-quality faucets are often guaranteed for life, with replacement parts available just by asking the manufacturer for them. Upscale brands like Mohn, GROHE, and ROHL will replace parts for free. The other consideration is the type of faucet you have, which can be a:

  • Ball Faucet: Most commonly installed in kitchens, it has many parts, making it prone to leaks. An internal ball controls the flow of water.
  • Disk Faucet: A modern design that mixes hot and cold water in a special chamber, and controls water volume via two ceramic disks, it does not often need repairs.
  • Cartridge Faucet: A single- or double-handle faucet used in the typical bathroom sink. Movement is smooth and consistent with no pressure needed to turn off the faucet.
  • Compression Faucet: The handle (and, in turn, the washer) must be tightened to close the water flow. This design is used in utility sinks and is more often found in older homes.

Should You Replace It?

Replacing a sink faucet can cost up to $300 (higher for luxury types). This includes not only parts and materials but also labor.3 Faucet replacement often costs more than repairs, but that depends on your unique circumstances. In many cases, it is more cost-effective to replace a leaky faucet, especially if it is old or has been repaired several times.

A few reasons to consider replacement over faucet repair include:

  • Repairs cost more than replacing the faucet, especially if you can afford a higher quality brand that offers a warranty and/or replacement parts for free.
  • Frequent repairs are needed, which can increase the cost enough that replacing the faucet is a more cost-effective option.
  • Your fixtures are old and, even if repaired, are more likely to require additional repairs in the future, with no guarantee of lasting performance.

plumber installs a new faucet for a sink

  • You want a more efficient unit; older faucets can run at 3 to 5 gallons per minute, while modern, efficient ones often don’t exceed 2.5 gallons per minute.
  • You don’t like your fixtures; replacing your faucets can be a valuable update to your home, especially if you’re renovating or plan to sell it in the future.
  • The sink or counter surface may be damaged; to restore it, you may need to also replace your faucet, whether there’s something wrong with it or not.

It is important to know when to repair or replace a faucet, as tricky as the decision can be. The right choice will prevent more severe damage. Consult with a plumber as soon as possible if you have a leaky or otherwise damaged faucet.

Contact Us for Faucet Repair/Replacement in Austin and San Antonio

A leaking faucet can waste thousands of gallons of water, drive up your water bill, and cause damage to your home. Our plumbers are experienced at kitchen and bathroom faucet repair. They can also advise you on whether to install a new bathroom faucet or replace a kitchen faucet when necessary. Call 512-246-5400 or submit our contact form to receive expert help with your faucet trouble.

Sources:

  1. https://www.epa.gov/watersense/fix-leak-week
  2. https://www.angieslist.com/articles/should-i-repair-or-replace-leaky-faucet.htm
  3. https://www.angieslist.com/articles/should-i-repair-or-replace-leaky-faucet.htm

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