Compression-type stem faucets are closed by washers when turned off. If the washer is faulty or damaged, you will get a leaky faucet. Fortunately, these are pretty easy to fix and all it takes usually is replacing the washer.

Compression-type faucets come in different styles, but the appearance makes no difference to the basic principles of operation. Don't worry whether you have a tap with separate handles for hot and cold water or just a single faucet; you can still follow these directions to fix either kind easily and quickly (and at a fraction of the cost of hiring a plumber).

This article will walk you through the steps of replacing a washer in a faucet and fixing that annoying drip or leak. You dont need to be an expert – just follow the steps and you will succeed. If this doesn't work, you may need to look at other ways to repair your faucet or even replace your entire faucet.

Tools You'll Need to Fix Your Leaky Faucet

Instructions to Fix Your Compression-type Faucet to Avoid Dripping

  1. Turn off the main water supply.
  2. Unscrew a small screw that you will find on the top or at the back of the faucet handle, in order to remove the handle from the main body of the faucet. Some screws may have a metal or plastic button that you'll need to remove first.
  3. Now you will see the faucet assembly. Use slip-joint pliers or an adjustable wrench to take off the packing nut.
  4. Turn the faucet stem in the same direction you would to turn the faucet on, in order to twist it out.
  5. Remove the screw holding the washer on.
  6. If either the screw or stem is damaged, you will replace them now.
  7. Replace your old washer. You need to make sure you have an exact replacement that is precisely the same size. A washer that is slightly larger or slightly smaller will not do the job. It may help make the drip less noticeable but if you want it completely gone you need to have a washer of the exact same size as the old one. You should also make sure that if the old washer is beveled, then the replacement is also bevelled. Same thing if the washer is flat. Bottom line is that the washer must be the identical size and shape and style if you want to fix that drip completely.
  8. Attach the new washer to the stem.
  9. Reinstall the faucet assembly.
  10. Turn the faucet stem clockwise.
  11. Once the faucet stem is in place, replace the packing nut.
  12. Put the screw back in the faucet handle.
  13. Replace the plastic or metal button if there was one on top of the screw.
  14. Turn the water supply back on.


  • Be cautious that you don't scratch the metal when using the wrench or other tools.
  • If you have any trouble with tight screws, try using a penetrating oil like WD-40 to help loosen them.
  • Check for any leaks after you have completed all the steps.
  • If you have a faucet that doesn't use a washer, you will need to instead follow the steps to repair a non-compression type faucet.