Outdoor Faucet Repair: How to Fix a Leaky Hose Bibb

Repairing a dripping outdoor faucet is often at the bottom of a homeowner’s to-do list, since the leak is outside the house.

But left unchecked, it doesn’t take long for even a small leak from a hose bibb to waste hundreds of gallons of water — and quickly raise your water bill.

Easy Repairs for Your Outdoor Faucet

Over time, outdoor faucets, also known as hose bibbs, begin to drip or leak around the handle, and it’s important to repair them as soon as you notice the problem.

Another common problem on outside spigots is leaking around the valve stem when you turn the water on.

You can easily repair both of these problems. Just use pliers or an adjustable wrench to tighten the packing nut behind the handle with a 1/8 to 1/4, clockwise turn.

Dripping outdoor faucet
Outdoor faucets can be easily repaired or, as a last resort, replaced. (©GolfC, Adobe Stock Photos)

When You Need to Replace the Washer

Most leaky outdoor faucets can be repaired with a simple turn of the wrench, but if the faucet still leaks after you’ve tightened the packing nut, you’ll need to replace the rubber washer on the end of the valve stem.

Here’s how to go about it:

  • Turn the water off at the water meter using a cut-off key.
  • Unscrew the packing nut beneath the handle of the faucet.
  • Grasp the faucet handle, and pull the valve stem out of the hose bibb.
  • Remove the screw on the valve stem holding the faucet washer.
  • Replace the washer with one of the same size and thickness.
  • Push the valve stem back into the hose bibb housing.
  • Tighten the packing nut on the hose bibb until snug.
  • Use the cut-off key to turn the water back on at the meter.
  • Turn the spigot back on to remove any air from the line.
  • Check for leaks around the packing nut on the valve stem.
  • Turn the faucet off and check the spigot for leaks.

Watch this video to find out more.

Still Have Problems Fixing the Leak?

Sometimes, you may still have a leak, despite trying the usual repairs for your outdoor faucet. That’s the case for this homeowner, who wrote to Today’s Homeowner for more advice:

Danny,

I tightened the packing nut about a whole turn or more; the outdoor faucet hose bibb still leaks, but not as badly. Still have space between the packing nut and the next piece of spigot.

Should I keep tightening it until it is snug?

Robert N. Lewis

Robert,

I would suggest tightening it a little more and that probably will solve the problem.

However, sometimes, an outdoor faucet, or hose bib, that has been tightened by hand a lot has affected the sealing ability of the “seat,” and it’s beyond repair.

The best thing to do in that case is to simply replace the hose bibb itself.

Doing this will require you to turn the water off to your home.

Danny

Further Information

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Now, here’s a pretty common home repair: a leaky outdoor faucet or water bibb. If you’ve got one of these, I can tell you three things without even looking at it.

First of all, left unchecked, it’s going to waste hundreds of gallons of water, even with a slow drip.

Number two, it’s what I consider one of the most doable do-it-yourself projects that you can tackle.

And number three, in most cases all it’s going to take is about 30 seconds of your time and a pair of adjustable pliers, cause all you need to do is tighten the packing nut that’s right behind the handle. About a quarter to an eighth turn is all it takes.

Now, unfortunately, I’ve already tried that with this one, so I’m going to have to look at a couple of other items. But again, it’s pretty simple, and it starts with turning off the water supply.

Now looking at this one, I can tell that we have a really worn washer, so we’re going to unscrew the washer from the handle.

This one’s a little stubborn to get out, so I’m going to have to use a little extra effort with a utility knife to pull this washer out of the way.

Once we do, it’s time to find a replacement, and I always like to keep a pack of washers on hand of all varieties, so I can find what I need.

Once we’ve got the washer back in place, we reassemble the hose bibb, turn the faucet off, go back and turn your water supply back on.

Then come back to the outdoor faucet, open it up release any air, let some water flow, turn it off, and we’ve repaired our leak.