How to Repair a Frost-Free Faucet

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An outdoor frost-free faucet looks like any other faucet on the outside of a home. The difference is that a longer frost-free faucet stem connected to the compression washer valve seals off the water supply inside the home rather than near the spout where the water would be exposed to the cold outside temperatures. When a frost-free faucet develops a leak, the homeowner can complete the necessary repairs in one hour or less, using a few basic tools and materials--all of which are readily available at a local hardware store or home center.

Things You'll Need

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Lockjaw pliers
  • New rubber packing seal 0-ring
  • New rubber washer seal
  • Toothpick
  • Cotton swab

Turn off the water supply to the frost-free faucet.

Open the frost-proof faucet valve by turning the handle counter clockwise to relieve all residual water pressure.

Use an appropriate tipped screwdriver to remove the center screw that attaches the frost-proof faucet handle to the faucet valve stem.

Remove the faucet packing nut by turning it counterclockwise with an adjustable wrench. Use lockjaw pliers to support the frost-proof faucet body while removing the packing nut. The packing nut is located directly behind the handle and has six flat sides to facilitate removal with a wrench.

Remove the valve stem by placing the faucet handle onto the stem and turning it counter clockwise a few turns until it can be removed. There is no need to reinstall the handle retaining screw for this purpose.

Remove the rubber packing 0-ring seal from the stem. Use the edge of a flathead screwdriver to raise up the 0-ring from its recess and then roll the 0-ring off of the handle end of the faucet stem. Keep the old 0-ring for size comparison with the new 0-ring.

Locate the rubber compression seal at the bottom of the valve stem and use an appropriate tip screwdriver to remove the center screw that retains it. Turn the screw counter clockwise to remove it.

Remove the rubber compression washer from its recess using the edge of a flathead screwdriver. Keep the rubber compression washer for size comparison with the new washer.

Clean all residue from the packing 0-ring seal recess and the compression washer recess with a toothpick and cotton swab.

Install the new rubber packing 0-ring seal by placing it over the handle end of the stem and rolling it into the 0-ring recess.

Install the new rubber compression washer seal into its recess at the bottom end of the stem. Make sure that the washer is fully seated into its recess by applying pressure with your thumb.

Use a screwdriver to install the rubber compression washer retaining screw. Turn the screw clockwise to tighten.

Insert the valve stem into the valve body of the frost-free faucet.

Attach the faucet handle to the stem and turn it clockwise until it becomes snug. It is not necessary to secure the handle with its retaining screw for this step. Remove the handle when this step is completed.

Place the packing nut over the handle end of the valve stem and tighten with the adjustable wrench by turning the nut clockwise. Use lockjaw pliers to support the frost-proof faucet valve body as the packing nut is tightened.

Attach the faucet handle to the valve stem and use a screwdriver to secure the center retaining screw.

Restore the water pressure to the frost-proof faucet.

Open the frost-proof faucet to purge air from the water lines.

Close the frost-proof faucet and leak check.

Tips & Warnings

  • Using lockjaw pliers for support while loosening and tightening the packing nut helps to prevent twisting of the water supply lines and breakage of the frost-proof faucet mounting screws that secure the valve to the outside of the house.
  • Take the old seals to your local hardware store or home center and compare sizes for a perfect fit.

References

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