How To Fix a Leaking Hose Bib

A leaking hose bib is worth every bit of trouble fixing. A simple drop per second creates a slippery puddle or wet mess that endangers you and your loved ones, and amounts to buckets upon buckets of wasted water when left unchecked.

A hose bib is a hose fitting usually made of brass with a threaded spigot to accept a hose coupling. The main reason why a hose bib leaks is worn or detached washers or sealers, and replacing the washers is the best way to deal with this problem.

Fix Damaged Cup Washer

Constant drips indicate that the hose connection has a damaged washer. A washer or cup washer is a rubber with a small hole in the middle and attached to the tip of the handle’s stem. The cup washer covers the space between the tip of the stem and the port inside the faucet when the faucet is closed. But with a damaged cup washer, water seeps through the space and causes leaks.

  • Turn off the main water supply.
  • Open the hose bib to relieve pressure in the pipes.
  • Remove the hose bib handle.
  • Remove the packing nut and bonnet nut if there is any (larger nut that tightens the faucet and keeps the stem in place).
  • Remove the stem and spray penetrating oil on the screw that holds the cup washer.
  • Remove the screw and take off the cup washer.
  • Bring the damaged or old cup washer to the hardware store and buy an exact replacement.
  • Apply grease to the stem and the new cup washer.
  • Re-assemble the hose bib.

Fix Loose or Damaged Packing Material

A hose bib may leak right at the packing nut, indicating the need to replace the packing material. It’s recommended to replace the packing material along with replacing the cup washer. The packing nut is located directly behind the hose bib handle. It tightens the packing material into the space between the stem and the faucet. Constant closing and opening of the faucet loosens the packing nut and dislodges the packing material, causing leaks.

  • Tighten the packing nut. Often, the packing material is okay, simply dislodged from the constant open and close motion.
  • Put a wrench on the hose bib’s faucet to keep the torque off the pipe.
  • Grip the packing nut with another wrench, turning the packet nut clockwise in a half turn.
  • If the leak persists, it’s time to replace the packing material.
  • Turn off the main water supply.
  • Open the hose bib to relieve pressure in the pipes.
  • Remove the hose bib handle.
  • Remove the packing nut and bonnet nut if there is any (larger nut that tightens the faucet and keeps the stem in place).
  • Pry the old packing material using a small screwdriver. Avoid denting the stem.
  • Wrap the stem in new packing material, pressing it into the space with a screwdriver.
  • Add as much packing material until it is 1/8 above the packing nut threads.
  • Place the packing nut over the stem and tighten one full turn with the second wrench, holding the pipe in place with the first wrench.

When It’s Time to Replace Hose Bib

Sometimes the entire hose bib needs replacement as its hard components – the faucet body, valve stem, packing nut and bonnet nut – are badly damaged beyond repair. It can be difficult to obtain replacements for damaged hard parts since they are not interchangeable between brands. If you can contact the manufacturer, well and good. But it may be more effective to simply replace the damaged hose bib with a new one.

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