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Fix a Leaky Outdoor Faucet

Leaks in outdoor faucets usually occur in two places – the handle and the spout.

To fix a leak coming from the handle, try tightening the nut behind the handle with a wrench. If that fails to stop the leak, or if the leak is coming from the spout, you’ll have to take the faucet apart.

Start by turning off the water supply at your shutoff valve and unscrewing the screw that holds the handle in place.

Behind the handle, you’ll find a packing nut. Using a wrench, turn the nut counterclockwise and slide out the valve assembly.

Older valve stem assemblies have two washers – one behind the packing nut and one at the base of the assembly. If the washer behind the packing nut is worn, use a wrench to loosen the nut and take out the washer. Take the old washer to a plumbing supply store to make sure you’re replacing it with the right one.

To replace a worn washer at the base of the valve stem, unscrew the screw that holds the washer in place, remove the worn washer, and replace it with a new, matching one.

Leaks in long frost-free valve stems are more difficult to fix, especially if the leak is inside your wall or if your valve stem is soldered onto your supply line. If you have this type of valve stem, consult a plumbing supply store for advice.

For more information on fixing leaks and step-by-step videos, visit or call 206-684-SAVE.