How to Fix a Leaky Kitchen Faucet with Two Handles

If you have a sink in your kitchen, chances are you have had trouble once in a while with dripping water from the faucet. Most modern kitchen sinks usually have two faucets handles. One faucet handle is for cold water while the other designed for hot water. When it is leaking, the first thing you should do is determine the sides that leaking.

A leaky faucet is one that drips water from the spout. Faucets leak when seals close or stop functioning properly. Seals are designed to open and close to allow water to flow properly through the faucet.

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But if they don't close efficiently, you are prone to having water drip from the tap. Leaking water may bring wastage and incur more water bills than usual, not forgetting the annoying sounds dripping water make in the sink. Who loves that?

How much does a leaky faucet costs per year?

Wasting water is irresponsible, and a leaking tap can waste millions of gallons in the long run. A leaky faucet easily represents a loss of 0.5 liters per hour, i.e., 12 liters per day and 4380 liters per year.

Below are some of the ways one can follow to repair any leakage from the faucet.


To repair leakage in a faucet, you will need several basic tools. You don't want to start searching for forgotten tools up and down or run to the store in the middle of working. You will need:

  • Hex wrench
  • Adjustable screwdriver
  • Groove-joint pliers
  • Plumbers grease
  • Flat screwdriver
  • Utility knife

Steps to fixing the leakage

Before you start to disassemble to ascertain the cause of the leakage, it is essential to know which type of faucet you are trying to fix. Is it the cartridge type, compression, or ceramic?

Find the side that is leaking by turning off the water supply valves located under the sink to see where water is leaking from.

To begin with, turn off one faucet handle to see if it is leaking or not. Repeat the same to the other handle to see if there is leakage coming out of the faucet.

1. Fixing a leaking compression faucet

  • Turn off the water supply

Do this either by shutting off the fixture valves, turn in a clockwise motion. They are located below the sink. If there are no shut off fixtures, turn off the main water supply in your house.

To close the water flow in a compression faucet, tighten the handles down. Compression washer faucets are more likely to be prone to leakage though they are cheaper than cartridges.

  • Open the faucet to release the pressure

When the water supply is completely off, open the faucet to release pressure in the water. When any pressure has been released, cover the drain to avoid losing small parts of the disassembled faucet into the drain accidentally. Use a plug or damp cloth to cover the drain.

  • Find a water leak 

Locate the side that is leaking and work only on what's faulty. If all the sides are not working properly, then you can fix them together.

  • Remove the handles 

Remove the faucet handles. With the flathead screwdriver, unscrew them and then pull the handles.

Set a hex screw into the handle and hold it in place. Loosen the screw with an upward pull to lift the handle.

Faucets might be old, too, and therefore the handle might be hard to remove. Minerals can build up, thus hardening it. You can tap it gently with a hammer to loosen the bond. Use a utility knife to remove the decorative cup located at the top of the handle.

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Keep the assembled parts aside in one place to avoid losing them accidentally.

  • Removing the cartridge 

When the handles have been successfully removed, remove the stem. To do this, pull it out of the faucet. If there is a nut that's making it uneasy to pull out, get a pipe wrench to remove the nut, and your cartridge will now be free for removal.

  • Replace worn out parts 

Check the condition of the rubber/neoprene seals that are located near the stem washer you've just removed if they are worn out or not. Replace damaged parts by getting duplicates from your local hardware.

If your cartridge does not need replacement, make sure you clean everything before putting them back. For clogged up dirt by minerals, soak it with vinegar and then use a nylon scrub pad to wipe off the surfaces for a cleaner and shinier look. Replace the O-rings that are on the cartridge if need be.

Lubricate them before fixing the replacements. Reassemble all the parts you removed, and its time to put them back. Grease the O-rings before putting them back. Clean the valve, both inside and outside. Replace the cartridge that was leaking.

Reverse what you did to fix them back, start with the step you finished with while repairing and finish off with the handles back in place. Test if the leakage is fixed. Open the valves that were switched off and turn on the faucet and turn off to see if it's still leaking. If leaking still persists, disassemble again to fix and consider replacing the valve with a new one. Get a new valve from the hardware and always carry the old one with you to help you in purchasing a similar size and type.

2. Fixing a cartridge leaking faucet

Cartridge faucets are so easy to fix and do not require a lot of work. Turn off the water supply to the faucet of both handles. Open the faucet to release water pressure. Use a screwdriver to unscrew the screws that are on the faucet handle and pull the handle.

Use a pipe wrench to remove the retaining nut and pliers to pull out the cartridge. Check if the O-rings are worn out if they are, then you need to replace the cartridge. Reassemble all the removed parts and put back the faucet handle to its place. Tighten back the set screw onto the handle. However, don’t tighten it too much.

  • Turn on the water supply 

Now that everything is finished turn on the water supply to test if the faucet is working. After turning on, turn off again to see whether there's leakage or it is completely fixed.

3. Ceramic disk faucet

To fix a leakage in a ceramic faucet, make sure you shut off the water supply.

Loosen the set screw using a hex wrench to be able to remove the faucet handle.

Remove the faucet handle by pulling it out using pliers to remove the retainer nut. Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the decorative caps located at the top of the faucet.

When you've removed the cap, the valve retaining nut will show. Loosen the cartridge with groove joint pliers and remove it. The cartridge can also be removed by hand. Use a screwdriver to remove the seals located at the bottom of the cartridge and clean them using a toothbrush.

Take a screwdriver and remove the O-ring from the faucet. Apply silicone grease to the O-ring with the tip of your fingers. Put the cartridge to the faucet body and use groove joint pliers to tighten it. Do not over-tighten to secure it.

Reattach the decorative cap using your hands and then put back the handle. Tighten the set screw with an Allen wrench. Turn back on both water supply lines and test your faucet if there is no leakage.


When unscrewing a valve seat, turn it counterclockwise. Leaky faucet brings so much wastage in water that you should not hesitate to fix it immediately. It will not only save you water but also from paying water bills of what is going at a waste. Repairing faucets is not hard at the comfort of your home with the right tools. There are so many things that cause leakage, but it all starts in the valve.

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