It is not entirely infrequent that the most common calls for contractors, handymen and service providers end up being the easiest tasks to perform on one’s own. Prevention, as always, is a key element in this argument but seeing as painting and leaks are the most common home improvement calls made, along with numerous installation requests, it’s not hard to see why DIY has become a bit of a fad in the preceding years.
I described the best way to prep a paint job a few posts ago and most items that require installation come with directions, no matter how complicated. A dripping sink is a very common job for a neighborhood plumber but it is not all that hard to fix if you know what you’re doing. And like most projects, it begins with the simplest question: what am I doing? In this case, that means locating what kind of sink you have, and the answer tends to land in one of two categories, washerless (one lever) and compression (two handles). Below that, there are ball, disc, valve and cartridge, the names of which largely have to do with the interior of the mechanism.
In both cases, it’s safer to turn off the water first before starting the actual work. Have a crescent wrench or pliers and cleaning supplies (including a small brush) ready, and be ready to run out to the hardware store to get a replacement gasket if you don’t already know the size and type. The water supply knob should be easily seen underneath the sink or on a connecting pipe. Get the wrench or pliers and take off the head of the faucet, a.k.a. the small piece where the water comes out. Either inside the head or where it came off, you will see a small rubber circle; this is your gasket.
Use the cleaning supplies to take off any build-up or grime on the head and the remaining open area of the faucet. If you don’t already have a replacement, go to a hardware store and purchase a replacement gasket of the same exact type and size. Press it flatly inside the head of the faucet and hand screw the head of the faucet; make sure it doesn’t get awkwardly lodged or stuck in the grooves of the head. Tighten the head with the wrench until it is fit snugly back in.
Turn the water supply back on and use the faucet again. If the dripping persists, it’s likely a problem with the internal mechanism, which is where the type of faucet you have will become a bit more important. In these cases, the level of work needed is a bit higher and may require professional help, but not necessarily. In all likelihood, however, your faucet head just needed a good scrub and new protection.