Reasons for Faucet Failures


Inevitably, everyone runs into a leaky faucet. And no wonder when there are so many reasons for leaks. There are two major types of leaks. The first occurs when water continues to drip or run after the valve is shut off. The second happens when water flows up the valve stem. These two types of failures can be very frustrating for homeowners. The good news is that they are typically not very expensive repairs.

The information below discusses the seal failures that cause water faucets to leak. It is up to the homeowner to find the right solution — which is to say, we don’t recommend this as a guide to fixing your faucet.


Leaky Faucet

If you remove the cap from the faucet handle, it will expose the stem of the valve cartridge.


You can then remove the entire cartridge. Some companies make full replacement cartridges that drop in as a replacement. Other companies allow the user to replace the seals and gasket to solve water leaks.


If you have a cartridge that can be broken down, you want to remove all the seals.


Pictured here is a flat washer. The washer is used as the shut off for the water. In this view, you will see that the flat washer, over time, will form the wall that it is shutting off. Compression set is the value the rubber does not return to complete form. This gasket should be perfectly flat and not have ridges on its surface. A direct force is constantly applied to the gasket to prevent any water from flowing. A downside to this is that rubber is susceptible to compression set, and flat gaskets are more susceptible to this type of failure than o-rings. The round profile of an o-ring reduces the need for full force to be applied for sealing, thus allowing the seal to last longer. The compression set of the flat gasket is the point of the failure of the faucet. Most hardware stores sell replacements for these valves.

Over time, compression set will occur in flat gaskets due to heat and pressure. Our Housing Seal product page lists some benefits of a flat gasket vs round profiles. Round profiles provide a more robust seal since they usually don’t lose full sealing force due to the compression set.

Valve Stem Failure

If you see water running up the valve stem, this failure is typically being caused by the o-rings found on the stem. Again, replacements can be found at any local hardware store. Make sure you get o-rings approved for water use. Typically, these are listed as “NSF Approved”. Apple Rubber does not sell individual replacement o-rings. We are a higher volume provider, so the cost of single units is better at a hardware store.

With any seal application, it is essential to make sure you have the suitable material for the application and that the seals are durable enough that they are still good to use. Also, ensure that all surfaces are clean to prevent any leak paths from forming due to the presence of a foreign material.