When the spring season arrives, homeowners in Texas may begin to notice issues with their outdoor faucets. One of the most common problems is leaks, which can lead to high water bills (and even costly repairs) if not addressed promptly. In this article, we’ll share tips on identifying and preventing outdoor faucet leaks to keep your plumbing system in shape.
What Causes Outdoor Water Faucets to Leak?
A variety of factors can cause outdoor water leaks. Here are a few common ones:
Keeping the Faucet Turned On All the Time
Some connect a “Y” splitter with included valves to the hose outlet. They use this to control the water turning on and off and leave the main handle in the “on” position. Others connect an irrigation timer to the faucet or have it connected to an automatic pool fill and constantly left in the “on” position. This is not “best practice” and can lead to premature failure of the vacuum breaker or other faucet parts.
Most outdoor faucets use a rubber washer seal to turn the water off when the handle is turned. Over time, these washers will wear away. This process is sped up if the faucet is habitually over-tightened.
Most outdoor faucet designs have a seal that keeps water from dripping around the handle when the faucet is turned on. This seal worsens over time but can often be fixed by tightening up the packing nut. If your faucet leaks around the handle during use, see the instructions below for a possible DIY solution.
Steps for Fixing an Outdoor Faucet That Leaks Around The Handle
If the faucet leaks around the handle while turning on, the stem packing may leak. Over time, this seal starts to loosen up and leak. Fortunately, this is often a DIY-friendly fix for most outdoor faucet/spigot designs.
You will need an adjustable wrench (often called a Crescent wrench). Adjust this wrench to the correct size so that it fits on the flat surfaces of the fastener directly behind the faucet handle.
Then, stabilize the faucet with one hand so you don’t accidentally turn the entire faucet. Fit the wrench onto the fastener and gently tighten it. It will take little force. It typically will tighten about a ¼ turn.
After this, turn the faucet back on and check to see if the faucet still leaks near the handle. Also, check to make sure the handle is smooth. Tightening down the packing nut will make the turning of the handle stiffer. If you overtighten, the handle movement may be too rigid. In this case, just back off until it turns with adequate smoothness and doesn’t leak.
If this doesn’t resolve the issue, or it is too difficult to turn the packing nut, it is best to call a professional. Too much force applied to the faucet can cause issues.
Tips for Your Outdoor Water Faucet
Leaking outdoor faucets can waste a lot of water and add to your water bill. An average leak of about 30 drips per minute will waste over 1,000 gallons yearly! Here are a few tips to help prevent waste or damage:
- Inspect – Regularly inspect your outdoor faucets. If the handles are hard to turn or if you have shut them off tightly to prevent drips, it’s best to take care of these issues proactively!
- Winterize – Don’t forget to winterize your faucets each fall to avoid potential issues. This includes detaching hoses and covering the faucet opening with a cover that can be purchased at your local store.
- Know How to Shut Off the Water – It’s also essential to know the location of your water box in case of an emergency. Early detection of outdoor leaks and timely repairs are critical to avoiding costly damage to your property and infrastructure.
If you suspect an outdoor water faucet leak, it’s best to leave the job to the professionals if it seems more extensive than you can handle. At Legacy Plumbing, we offer expert outdoor faucet repair services to keep your faucet in shape. Contact us today to learn more.