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What Causes an Outdoor Faucet to Leak When On?

5 Star Plumbing > Blog > What Causes an Outdoor Faucet to Leak When On?

This article explores the causes of outdoor faucets that leak when turned on and possible fixes. Loose connections, worn-out washers, and damaged o-rings are typical sources of leaks.

Corrosion, frozen pipes, and excessive water pressure are additional conditions that might cause leaks.

Replace the damaged component or tighten any loose connections to repair a leaky outdoor faucet. It could be required in some circumstances to hire a qualified plumber to fix the faucet. Homeowners can avoid water waste and possibly expensive water damage by being aware of the typical causes of outdoor faucet leaks and how to correct them.

Table of Contents

The Information You Need Regarding Outdoor Faucet Issues

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From tiny leaks to catastrophic problems that could seriously harm your house, outdoor faucet troubles can range in severity. Leaks, low water pressure, and freezing over the winter are a few of the most typical issues.

Numerous things, including worn-out washers, harmed pipes, or incorrect installation, can contribute to these issues. For your plumbing system to last as long as possible and to avoid further damage, it’s critical to handle outdoor faucet issues as soon as they appear.

Regular upkeep and inspections can aid in avoiding the emergence of these issues altogether.

A home with two leaky exterior faucets wastes 57,600 drops of water each day at a slow drip rate of 20 drips per minute. A leaky spigot wastes 5 gallons of water daily, and leaks from outdoor faucets waste 1,851 gallons of water in a single year.

Tools and Materials Required

Tools required for outdoor faucet repair:

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Slip joint pliers

Materials required:

  • Replacement vacuum breaker parts
  • Faucet stem washer assembly

How to identify leaks in a faucet

You must first determine the root of the issue in order to start fixing a leaky outdoor faucet. There are a number of potential causes for an outdoor faucet leaking. The washer has to be adjusted or changed if you discover that your outdoor faucet leaks from the spout when the water is turned off. The stem packing may be leaking if the faucet leaks from the area around the handle when it is turned on. Worn-out washers are a common cause of outdoor faucet leaks. In addition to the packing around the handle and wear and tear on the washers, frozen or damaged pipes can also be a factor in outdoor faucet leaks.
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Mineral deposits and other buildup can cause pipes to get clogged over time. If water inside a pipe freezes, the resulting expansion and contraction of the metal leads to pipe cracking and produces frost damage. For this reason, turning off exterior faucets is crucial when you start winterizing your home in the fall.

Spout leaks

The simplest leaks to find are those around the spout. Here, even an outdoor faucet can keep dripping after being turned off. You’ll first notice that closing your tap will take more effort. Alternately, you’ll need to shut the tap a precise way to stop the leak. People make these efforts in the hopes that they will stop the leak, only to discover that the issue worsens over time.
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Spout leaks may result in high water bills for you. Additionally, the drips may wind up disfiguring the region near the faucet. Put an empty container beneath the faucet to check for leaks in the outdoor spigot. Come return in the evening after letting it sit there for a day. Is there any water in it? If so, you have a spout leak on your hands and it should be fixed.

Base leaks

These leaks take place at the faucet’s base, as the name would imply. The base is the connection between the supply pipe and your faucet. Base leaks are the most difficult to detect because there is a lot of splashing outdoors. As a result, the majority of people believe that splashing is to blame for the moisture around the base area. Turn off your outside faucet, and then dry the base area with a cloth to look for base leaks. Next, turn on the faucet and take a close look at the faucet base. Is there water slowly leaking from the base? Yes? Next, you should inspect the O-ring on the faucet. Base leaks are frequently caused by a damaged internal O-ring. It may have dried out, grown stale, or broken.

The most frequent reasons for leakage in outdoor faucets

After learning how to identify faucet leaks, we’ll discuss some of the typical reasons for outdoor faucet leaks and how to remedy them.

A faulty O-ring

Are your cartridge faucets dripping? The leak is most likely being caused by the O-ring at that point. How does the cartridge work? It controls whether water flows into the faucet’s spout by opening or closing a valve. The O-ring is housed within the cartridge. The O-ring is just a straightforward piece of hardware that holds the faucet handle in place. Spout leaks are caused, as already indicated, by a worn-out or malfunctioning O-ring. The only choice is frequent replacement.

A worn-out washer

This cause of spout leaks is yet another element: the washer that is attached to the valve seat. The washer and valve seat become more and more irritated as you use your faucet. The washer eventually becomes worn out as a result. When a faucet washer is installed incorrectly, it can occasionally wear out more quickly than expected. In other cases, a washer that is either too big or too small for a faucet may be the problem.

High water pressure

When the water pressure is too strong for your outside faucet to handle, it can occasionally leak. To diagnose the issue in this situation, you’ll need to contact a plumber. High pressure typically signifies underlying issues. The strong water pressure could damage your faucet permanently if you are not careful.

Loose components

Occasionally, none of the faucet’s parts are harmed or worn out. Instead, after use, they might have loosened. You should concentrate on the adjustment rings and packing nuts in particular. These are the two primary parts that are liable to loosen. To stop the leak, they might just need to be tightened.

Fixing a Leaky Outdoor Faucet

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Now that we have discussed the reasons you may have a leaky outdoor faucet, let us explain how to fix the leaking outdoor faucet.

Cut off the primary water supply to your home

Turn off the faucet’s water supply before starting any repairs. If you can’t do that, you might have to switch off your home’s main water supply. There ought to be a shutoff valve close to the faucet. The equipment you’ll need for this operation is listed below.
  • Pliers with slip joints.
  • An adjustable wrench.
  • An all-purpose screwdriver
Additionally, you’ll require a few faucet spare parts, such as the washer assembly and vacuum breaker parts.

Find the nut underneath the faucet's handle

Look behind the handle of the faucet for a nut. The faucet handle can be removed when you achieve a loose retaining nut with a tool or pair of pliers. The retaining nut is the name given to the nut behind the faucet handle. In some cases, simply tightening the retaining nut will stop the leak.

Remove the retaining nut

The retaining nut that secures the faucet stem in place can be unfastened and removed using pliers or an adjustable wrench.

Disassemble the faucet stem

If there are washers or other parts on the stem, make careful to note their location so you can reassemble the leaky faucet properly.

Check and fix the vacuum breaker

If you have a leaking vacuum breaker, it must be examined and fixed right now. To gain access to the vacuum breaker parts, open the vacuum breaker cap.

Using two screwdrivers, pry and remove the cap to reveal the contents. Next, replace the components of the vacuum breaker. Plumbing supply stores carry these.

Place your outside faucet in place and start the water flow

After finishing, carefully put together your outside faucet and switch on the water.

Is the leak still there? Yes? Then the faucet is damaged. You’ll need to swap out the entire unit with a new one in order to halt the leakage.

How Much Does Repairing an Outdoor Faucet Cost?

If you merely need to tighten or replace a loose washer, fixing a leaking outdoor faucet can be done for very little or even for free. The price of changing each component, however, can add up if you decide to completely replace the outside faucet.

A new brass hose bib with a shutoff valve can cost over $200, while replacing a spigot costs about $100. An outdoor faucet can be fixed or replaced for an average price of $50 to $300. You’ll probably save a lot of money if you can handle it yourself, because a hose bib alone costs $5 to $10.


Why does turning on my faucet cause it to leak at the base?

When a faucet leaks at the base when it is turned on, it is typically because of an O-ring or cartridge inside the faucet that is worn out or damaged. The cartridge regulates the water flow, while the O-ring, a tiny rubber ring, serves to seal off the faucet’s base.

When the faucet is turned on, water may leak out at the base due to these components wearing out or becoming broken over time. It’s preferable to contact a qualified plumber for the repair because replacing the O-ring or cartridge is frequently required to resolve the problem.

How can I stop the leak in my spigot?

Turn off the water supply to the spigot first if you want to stop it from leaking. Unscrew the packing nuts or screws holding the spigot in place. The worn out washer or O-ring and packing nut can both be removed using pliers. A replacement O-ring or washer that is the same size and shape should be used in its place. Put the spigot back together and restart the water flow. A malfunctioning valve stem may need replacement if the outdoor spigot leaks continuously.

Why does turning on my faucet cause the handle to leak?

In the valve assembly, a worn-out or damaged washer is frequently the root of a leaky faucet handle. Water may drip from the faucet handle and seep through a squeezed or corroded washer over time. The issue can be resolved and the leak stopped by replacing the washer or the entire valve assembly.

Why does my outdoor faucet only leak when the hose is connected?

If the rubber washer inside the faucet is worn out or damaged, or if the connection between the hose and the faucet is slack, an outside faucet starts leaking when a hose is attached.

When the hose is connected, the water pressure goes up, which accelerates washer wear. It may be possible to fix a leaky faucet by replacing the washer or tightening the connection.

Peter, plumber

I bring over 9 years of dedicated plumbing experience to the table. As a seasoned professional in the plumbing industry, I've tackled a wide range of projects, from residential repairs to large-scale commercial installations.

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