How to Fix a Leaky Spigot Handle in 2023T

A septic tank with pipes connected to it


An incessant dripping from a spigot handle isn’t just an annoyance – it can lead to extensive damage to your garden, your house’s foundation, and your finances. So, how can you tackle this everyday home repair and prevent it from becoming a significant issue? In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the process of fixing a leaky spigot handle, from identifying the source of the leak to preventive measures and maintenance.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to address the problem efficiently and effectively, saving yourself time, money, and the frustration of dealing with water leaks. Are you ready to tackle this common household issue? Let’s dive into the world of spigot handle repair and maintenance!

Key Takeaways

  • Identify the source of a leak and inspect components for signs of wear or damage.
  • Shut off water supply, drain excess water, replace packing nut/washer assembly to repair spigot handle.
  • Take preventive measures such as regular inspections and proper use & care to maintain faucet integrity.

Identifying the Source of the Leak

Outdoor faucet with a leaky stem

Before initiating repairs, you need to determine where your outdoor faucet is leaking. A deteriorated washer is the most common cause of a slow drip from a spigot handle. Other potential issues could include a loose packing nut or damaged components within the faucet stem. Identifying the source of the leak will ensure that your repair efforts are targeted effectively, saving you both time and resources.

Checking your outdoor faucet for signs of wear or damage is a key step. You’ll want to pay close attention to the packing nut, which is responsible for sealing off the water’s egress from the exterior and preventing leaks. Keep an eye out for any cracks, chips, or corrosion in the faucet components that may be contributing to the leak.

Outdoor Faucet Inspection

For a comprehensive inspection of your outdoor faucet, gather some basic tools including:

  • A wrench
  • Pliers
  • A screwdriver
  • A replacement washer from a repair kit

Start by examining the faucet handle and packing nut for any visible signs of wear or damage that could be causing the leak. If everything appears to be in good condition, you may need to remove the handle to access the faucet stem and washer assembly.

Use an adjustable wrench to loosen the packing nut located behind the handle. Be careful not to rotate the stem while fixing the leaky spigot handle, as this may cause water to flow. Once the nut is removed, inspect the faucet stem and washer assembly for any signs of wear or damage.

If you find any issues, you’ll need to replace the damaged components with new, same-size parts to ensure optimal performance for personalized content and ads, including the proper functioning of product links.

Locating the Packing Nut

The packing nuts are a critical component in preventing water leaks from your outdoor faucet. It is positioned behind the handle and serves as a threaded nut that secures packing material in place on a plumbing shaft, creating a watertight seal.

If you believe the packing nut is causing the leak, removing the faucet handle to access and inspect it will be necessary. Maintaining the packing nut in good condition and ensuring it’s properly tightened can help avert water leaks from your spigot handle.

Shutting Off the Water Supply

Water meter with a shut off valve

Before tackling any repairs on a leaky spigot handle, make sure to shut off the water supply first. This step prevents any difficulties when detaching the packing nut to access the faucet stem and ensures a safe working environment.

The process of shutting off the water supply involves locating the water meter and turning off the main shutoff valve.

Finding the Water Meter

The water meter is typically located near the front of your house, close to the street. Once you’ve found the water meter, look for the surrounding shut-off valve. This valve should be turned off to stop the water supply to your outdoor faucet before you proceed with any repairs.

Remember that shutting off the water supply is a crucial safety measure and should not be skipped, even if you’re confident in your repair abilities, depending on your settings.

Draining Excess Water

Once the water supply is shut off, ensure to drain any leftover water from your outdoor faucet, also known as a hose bibb. To do this, simply turn the faucet to the open position and allow any remaining water to flow out of the pipes.

Once the water has been drained, close the faucet again before proceeding with the repair process. This step ensures that you’re working in a dry and safe environment, minimizing the risk of water damage or injury while repairing your leaky spigot handle.

Repairing the Spigot Handle

Person tightening the packing nut of a faucet handle

With the source of the leak identified and your workspace prepped, you’re now ready to repair the spigot handle. There are a few common issues that can cause a leaky handle, such as a loose packing nut or a damaged washer assembly.

Resolving these issues will effectively stop the leak and prevent additional damage to your leaky outdoor faucet.

Tightening the Packing Nut

One of the first steps in repairing a leaky spigot handle is tightening the packing nut. Using a wrench, rotate the nut in a clockwise direction until it is securely fastened. Be sure not to overtighten it, as this can cause damage to the packing nut or other faucet components.

After securely tightening the packing nut, reactivate the water supply and scrutinize the faucet for any signs of water leaks from the handle. If the leak persists, you may need to consider replacing the packing nut, especially if it appears damaged or worn.

Replacing the Washer Assembly

If tightening the packing nut doesn’t resolve the leak, you may need to replace the washer assembly located behind the faucet handle. To do this, use a screwdriver to remove the damaged washer assembly from the outdoor faucet. Be sure to inspect the washer and O-ring for any signs of wear or damage, such as cracks, chips, or corrosion.

Once you’ve removed the damaged washer assembly, replace it with a new one of the same size and thickness. Reinstall the handle, packing nut, and other components, ensuring that everything is securely fastened and properly aligned.

With the new washer assembly in place, your spigot handle should no longer leak.

Fixing Frost-Proof Faucets

Vacuum breaker cap being removed from a frost-proof faucet

Frost-proof faucets are designed to withstand freezing temperatures, but they can still develop leaks and other issues over time. Repairing a frost-proof faucet with a leaky handle involves addressing specific components, such as the vacuum breaker cap and vacuum breaker parts.

By focusing on these areas, you can effectively fix a leaking frost-proof faucet handle and prevent further damage.

Vacuum Breaker Cap Removal

To access and repair the internal parts of a frost-proof faucet, start by removing the vacuum breaker cap, which is easily unscrewed or popped off from the top of the faucet. This cap is part of a vacuum breaker kit and helps maintain the integrity of your plumbing system by preventing contaminated water from flowing back into the system.

Once the cap is removed, you can proceed with cleaning or replacing the vacuum breaker parts as needed.

Cleaning or Replacing Vacuum Breaker Parts

A vacuum breaker is composed of a cap, stem, and O-ring and is an essential component in preventing water backflow in your plumbing system. If your frost-proof faucet is leaking due to issues with the vacuum breaker, you can either clean the parts or replace them with new ones, depending on their condition.

To clean the vacuum breaker parts, use a soft cloth and warm, soapy water, then rinse with clean water and dry thoroughly. If the parts are damaged or worn, replace them with new components.

Once the vacuum breaker parts have been cleaned or replaced, reassemble the frost-proof faucet and test for any leaks.

Reassembling the Spigot Handle

A close-up image of a leaky spigot handle being reassembled with a wrench and screwdriver.

After completing the necessary repairs, it’s time to reassemble the spigot handle and ensure that everything is functioning properly. This involves:

  1. Reattaching the handle
  2. Reattaching the packing nut
  3. Reattaching any other components that were removed during the repair process
  4. Testing the repaired faucet for leaks

To reassemble the handle, start by placing the packing nut onto the stem of the handle.

Putting the Handle Back Together

To reattach the handle and other components, follow the same steps you took when disassembling the faucet, but in reverse order. Ensure that the packing nut is securely fastened and that all other components are properly aligned and tightened.

Remember to apply Teflon tape if necessary to ensure a secure fit.

Testing the Repaired Faucet

After reassembling the spigot handle, it’s now time to check the repaired faucet for any leaks. Follow these steps:

  1. Turn on the water supply.
  2. Observe the faucet for any signs of water leakage.
  3. If you’ve successfully addressed the source of the leak, your spigot handle should function properly without any dripping or leaking.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully repaired your leaky spigot handle, saving yourself time, money, and potential damage to your home or garden.

Preventive Measures and Maintenance

Person inspecting a faucet for seasonal maintenance

After solving the water leak issue, it’s now crucial to carry out preventive measures and routine maintenance, including everyday home repairs, to ward off future leaks.

By taking a few simple steps, you can prolong the lifespan of your outdoor faucets and ensure that they continue to function properly without causing water damage or frustration.

Seasonal Inspections

Conducting seasonal inspections is one of the most effective ways to fend off leaks and damage to your outdoor faucets. This involves checking your faucets for any signs of wear and tear, such as cracks, rust, or corrosion, and replacing any damaged components as needed.

Winterizing your spigot is also a crucial step in preventing leaks and damage during freezing temperatures. By performing regular inspections and addressing any issues before they become major problems, you can avoid costly repairs and maintain the integrity of your outdoor faucets.

Proper Use and Care

Taking proper care and using your outdoor faucets correctly can help extend their lifespan and prevent leaks. This includes turning the faucet off completely after use, as well as wearing gloves when handling the spigot handle to prevent damage from rough handling.

In addition, it’s important to replace any worn or damaged parts as part of your regular maintenance routine. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your outdoor faucets remain in good condition and continue to function effectively without causing water leaks or other issues.


In conclusion, fixing a leaky spigot handle is an essential everyday home repair that can save you time, money, and prevent damage to your home and garden. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can effectively identify the source of the leak, repair the issue, and reassemble the faucet with confidence.

Remember that regular maintenance and preventive measures, such as seasonal inspections and proper use and care, are crucial in prolonging the lifespan of your outdoor faucets and avoiding future leaks. With these tips in mind, you can keep your outdoor faucets in top shape and enjoy a leak-free, hassle-free experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you fix a leaking spigot?

To fix a leaking spigot, tighten the packing nut behind the handle 1/8 to 1/4 turn.

If the faucet still leaks after tightening the packing nut, replace the washer on the end of the valve stem.

Why is my outdoor faucet leaking from the handle?

It seems the stem packing is likely causing your faucet to leak from around the handle, and you may be able to fix it simply by tightening the retaining nut underneath.

Try removing the screw from the center of the handle and tightening the nuts slightly.

Can you replace just the handle of a spigot?

Yes, you can replace the handle of your spigot by removing the screw that holds it in place and taking the broken handle to a local hardware store to match the size.

Once you have the new handle, you can simply screw it in place and your spigot will be as good as new.

What are the most common causes of a leaky spigot handle?

The most common causes of a leaky spigot handle are a deteriorated washer or a loose packing nut, so be sure to check both of these when troubleshooting the issue.

If the washer is deteriorated, it should be replaced. If the packing nut is loose, it should be tightened. Both of these solutions are relatively simple and can be done with basic tools.

How can I identify the source of the leak in my outdoor faucet?

Inspect your outdoor faucet for any signs of wear or damage, focusing on the packing nut, faucet stem, and washer assembly to identify the source of the leak.

Check for any cracks, corrosion, or other damage that could be causing the leak. Replace any damaged parts with new ones. Make sure to use the correct size and type of washer for your faucet. Tighten the packing nuts and faucet stem to ensure a tight seal.

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