Whether it’s called a faucet, a silcock, or a spigot, when they leak it’s no fun! Here are several situations and simple fixes that might work for you. Let’s start with the easiest: If it just keeps dripping, tighten the faucet handle or knob with a screwdriver or socket wrench.
If that doesn’t stop the drip unscrew the handle. Then pull off the handle and see if the bonnet screw is loose. Sometimes it’s also referred to as a packing nut. Some are plastic, others are metal. With channel locks, hold onto the body of the faucet so it doesn’t turn when you tighten down the nut. Sometimes it’s not always lefty loosey and righty tighty. For my faucet it tightened by turning it to the left or counterclockwise.
If there’s still a drip, it’s time to turn off the main water supply to your house or to the faucet itself if you have a valve shut off specifically for that. You’ll be changing out the flat washer at the end of the stem, whether it’s a short-stem faucet or a long frost-free one. Unscrew that same nut under the handle and pull out the stem if it’s a long frost-free one. In the end you will likely have a bad washer. If so, replace it with the same size washer. If you’re going to the hardware store, take the old washer with you so you can get an exact match. You can also buy a variety pack of washers or a kit specific to the make and model of your faucet. You can also find all of the items online.
If you have a leak just behind the handle or knob, it’s probably a matter of changing out the o-rings. Remove the handle and bonnet screw, pull off the old o-rings and put ones that match your spigot. Again, there are kits you can buy that replace all or some of the parts. The repair kits are usually less than $10.
Another leak happens out of the top of the spigot through an anti-siphon valve, which are common in frost-free faucets in the Midwest. The caps aren’t screwed on. All you have to do is take a flathead screwdriver and pop the cap off, then you can replace what’s inside. Under the plastic nut screw there’s a little plastic plunger inside. Most likely its rubber washer is worn out, or the tiny plunger has gotten dislodged or is dirty. Get a kit to replace the parts inside, screw it down, and push the cap back on. That should fix it.
Another problem can be more involved. That’s when the water is leaking from behind the handle, basically in the wall. Sometimes you can just unscrew the faucet mounting screws from the home’s wall and twist off the spigot. That only works if the spigot screws into a female adapter inside the wall that leads to your water supply line. If you can unscrew the spigot, take it with you to the store so you can get a replacement that is the same length, which is very important. Before threading the faucet back in, wrap the male end with Teflon tape so it makes a tight seal. Once that is done, remount the spigot flange to the wall.
If your spigot is mounted onto a brick wall, it might require removing the mortar around the spigot stem to unscrew it from the wall. If your home is older, there’s a good chance your spigot is not screwed in but soldered onto the copper water line inside your wall. If that’s the case you’ll have to go inside and find where the spigot comes into the home. That is more involved and you may want to consult a plumber. That was the case for me but I gave it a shot myself.
I figured out where the faucet came into the house in the basement by drilling a hole through the outside through the same hole of the spigot that was now loose. There was enough space so I could get a very long drill bit into the wall and touch the drywall on the inside. Then I carefully drilled a hole through the drywall on the inside until it eventually poked through the drywall into my basement. Now I knew exactly where the spigot and the water lines were and didn’t have to cut a big hole in the drywall or several trying to find the lines.
I then cut out an area of drywall about 8 by 8 inches to get access to all the piping. I heated up the solder connecting the copper water line and the spigot tube, taking care not to catch anything on fire. Once the solder has melted you can pull apart the pieces of copper with pliers or channel locks. Don’t touch them obviously as they will be very hot.
So I didn’t have to do this again if there was ever another problem, I put in a new spigot with a male adapter and put in a female adapter to the water line. This is why you might want to call a plumber because everything has to match up so it can thread together and so there are no leaks. Here is one link to a longer video showing what one plumber did to fix the problem, although their faucet didn’t have the problem of the drywall as it was an unfinished area inside the home.