Skip to Content

Replace Faucet Stem Still Leaking & How to Fix Dripping

A leaky faucet means the waste of tons of water. It should be bothering you.

The first thing that is responsible for this leaking is the stem.

And sometimes replacing the stem doesn’t solve the problem.

Why is your replaced faucet stem still leaking?

Among all the many reasons, a poor seal or corroded brass fittings are very common. Sometimes it is a problem with the washer or coupling. High temperatures can sometimes wear out the washers causing the leak. If replacing the stem doesn’t work, you might have to look at the valve seat or o-rings.

Does this seem all right? This article will first tell you how to fix the leak in your faucet for the stem. And then will tell you how to fix the problem if it exists even after replacing the stem. To learn everything, keep reading!

6 Reasons Why Your Faucet Stem Is Leaking

When your faucet leaks, it can lead to a lot of problems. For example- flooding in your sinks, a clogged drain, and more. It can also be costly as well. If your faucets are leaking and you’re not sure what’s causing the problem, then read on! 

This section will give you some key information on stem-related leaks. I’ve also tried my best to guide you on how to fix it.

Required Tools

Before you start, check to see if you have all these tools to fix this problem-

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Allen wrench
  • Pliers
  • Plumber’s putty

If you have all these materials, let’s see what can be done with this problem.

Reason 1: Poor Seal

A leaky faucet stem is caused by a poor seal between the faucet and the sink. This can happen due to wear, improper installation, and age. 

To check if it is a leaky seal, turn off your water supply. Also, shut off your drain line under the sink. Then plug the hole with some plumber’s putty or silicone caulk.


If the leak is beneath the handle, unscrew it. The stem should come with it. You can set the handle aside and just work on the stem itself.

Clean the area surrounding the O-ring seal of any dirt or debris. You can use a rag or an old toothbrush to do this. A toothbrush is preferable because of its compact size and its flexibility. It lets you get into tight spaces. And you can avoid scratching the surfaces on your sink or faucet body.

Reason 2: Corroded Brass Fittings

Another major cause of leaks is corrosion on brass fittings. These brass fittings connect the spout to the stem of your faucet. You can notice white powder caking up in lines around where these parts connect. Then you need to clean them off with vinegar or lemon juice and salt.


I can tell you how to fix this problem. You are going to remove the corroded brass fittings and replace them with new brass fittings. You might not be able to execute this if you don’t know what you’re doing. But I can show you how to do it. Read on to learn about it.

To begin, close the main water shutoff valve. And turn off the water supply to your faucet. After that, detach the handle from the stem of your faucet.

Then you will see a screw that holds in place a ring. It separates your spout from the stem of your faucet. It also holds in place a few other things for assembly purposes. Unscrew this screw and then remove the ring.

After that look at the brass fitting sticking out of the faucet. You can see it is corroded. You will also see a few rings that hold in place this fitting.

Reason 3: Worn Washer

Another reason for leaking faucet stems is if the washer is damaged. This is caused by water hammering as it enters your faucet. If you can’t stop your leaking faucet, replace the washer as soon as possible. 

In some cases, a caulk-sealed washer may become waterlogged and expand. This causes damage to its surroundings as well.


As before, cut off the water supply to your sink. Then, remove the faucet handle, usually with a screwdriver. Remove the nut that is beneath the handle. Loosen it enough to remove the stem and washer. 

If you’re replacing both parts, drain out any water. Then you should take out the old pieces and swap them with the new ones.

You should be especially careful because older washers can crack or break very easily. Newer ones are no different. If you have the option, you should consider replacing them entirely. 

Press down on one side of the wrench (while holding onto the faucet). And then squeeze up on another side. This must be done with caution to avoid injuring other pieces of your sink or counter.

Reason 4: Missing Washers

Another cause of faucet stems leak is because of loose or missing washers. Like low tire pressure, defective washers will slowly lose the ability to hold water. And this can lead to wear that leads to leaking. 

But why does this happen? Well, faucet washers are there to prevent leaks. It does this by creating a tight seal. That’s why if it’s loose or missing, water will leak out.


The good news is you can replace the defective washer yourself in about two minutes. You’ll need a dime-sized amount of plumber’s putty with a screwdriver. 

A cheap fix is to replace them with quality washers at the hardware store. Just invert the handle and place the putty over the stem threads. Then press down on it to spread out a thin layer of putty. 

Once this is done, screw on the faucet handle until you feel it start to tighten. While you’re doing this, you might want to hang on to the faucet. This is to prevent you from accidentally breaking it off.

The next step is to remove your washer (again, the stripped screw). This can be challenging. Because you’ll need two hands to hold on to both faucets and handles at the same time.

Reason 5: HighTemperature And Water Pressure

Extreme temperatures and water pressure can lead to leaks on the spout of your faucet. For this, you will have problems getting hot water and cold water. You can relate it to the issues of the hot water recirculation system.


The simplest approach to solve this is to remove your faucet from beneath the sink. And then to disassemble it. Then tighten any loose nuts to ensure that the water pressure is spread evenly.

Reason 6: Cracked Adapter

Lastly, a leaking faucet stem could be because of a cracked adapter. The adapter works in the connections for hot and cold water supply lines. 


The best way to fix this problem is by removing your hot and cold faucet stems. You can do this by gripping them with pliers and twisting them off.

What to Do If Your Faucet Stem Is Leaking Even After Replacement

Sometimes your faucet stem can leak even after changing the stem. In that case, the possible problems are with the coupler, o-ring, or valve seat

Reason 1: Coupler Soldering

The water pressure that drives washers against the valve seat causes them to wear out. Over time, the persistent pressure might wear out the material. This leads it to deteriorate, split, or become too flat to keep the seal in place. 

If the seal gets unplaced you have to seal it again. And sealing these things such as sealing the kitchen faucet base is an extra hassle.

If your washers are too thin, they may compress over the first several months of use. The washer will compact a bit more each time you close the valve. Until the seal can no longer be held. 

So you can use a thicker washer or double them. Then you may be able to get a better seal.

If your couplers need to be replaced, go get new ones. Since the material and substance will be much better. You’ll also get the chance to communicate with experts about your problem.


As is customary, you’ll need to turn off the shut-off valve beneath the sink first. 

Unscrew the little screws on the handles to disassemble the faucet unit. If you can’t discover them, they’re sometimes covered behind a metal or plastic disk.

Remove the packing nut using an adjustable wrench once the handle has been removed. Twist this in the same way you would spin the faucet handle to open it.

Remove the screw that secures the coupler. Examine the washer for any signs of wear and tear. It’s time for a replacement if it’s cracked, stiff, or crushed.

As a replacement, be sure you use the same size and shape couplers. Beveled and flat washers are available. It is critical that they be replaced with a form that is identical. After that, replace the faucet assembly and inspect for leaks.

Reason 2: Problem with O-Ring

In cartridge faucets, a defective O-ring is a typical issue. The stem screw is linked to the O-ring. This screw secures the faucet’s handle in place. Water does not leak out from around the spout because of the O-ring.


Remove the faucet handle by prying off the ornamental cover. Then unscrew the central screw to replace the O-ring.

Tighten them around the base of the valve with an adjustable wrench. To free it from the faucet body, turn it counterclockwise.

Remove the old O-rings and replace them with the new ones. After you’ve double-checked that the valves fit into the system, replace them into the faucet housing. Tighten any tabs or grooves using an adjustable wrench after aligning them.

Reason 3: Worn Valve Seat

You’ve checked the washer and the O-rings have been changed. But the tap continues to drip. In this case, the valve seat is most likely to blame. 

Valve seats are susceptible to a variety of damages. The valve seat is a component of the structure’s compressive mechanism. It connects the spout with the faucet.

It’s possible that a faulty washer enabled the metal stem to scrape against the seat. This can cause unevenness. Another concern is that contaminants in the water may have left a residue behind. It may prevent the washer from securely fitting against the valve seat.


If you have a seat wrench and a seat sleeve, you can easily fix this. However, if you don’t, here are some of our picks for you-

Product 1
Product 2

To release the valve seat, turn the wrench counterclockwise and draw it out. Examine the washer for scratches and indications of friction. Also, check for any accumulation caused by your water.

If accumulation is a problem, you’ll need a lime and scale remover solution. Immerse the valve seat for an hour in it. Scrub it with a toothbrush to remove the sediments. Rinse it with water, and then replace it in the faucet.

Alternative Fix

Using a valve seat grinder is another alternative. It assists in bringing a worn seat back to life. Take caution not to exert too much power when using this gadget. Because the seat is composed of soft metal, it is quite comfortable.

If there are scratches or friction marks on the valve seat, they should be ground out. This will level down the surface and remove any imperfections, providing for a better seal. After using the Valve Seat Grinder, rinse the valve seat and reattach it to the faucet.

You’ll need to repair the valve seat if your faucet continues to drip. Purchase a valve seat from a plumbing or home supply store that is equivalent.

 Install it and keep an eye out for leaks.


How tight should a faucet stem be?

Make sure the packing nut isn’t overtightened. It should only be snug enough to prevent water from seeping around the stem. The handle will be difficult to turn if it is overly tight. If it’s too loose, water will seep out around the stem.

What are the signs that my faucet cartridge is broken?

When it becomes difficult to alter the water temperature, a faucet cartridge is defective. When the stream isn’t powerful enough, that’s another symptom. Water trickling from the spout is an indication to look for. 

Is it necessary to caulk the tub spout?

Yes, you must caulk around the faucet in your bathtub. Water and other liquids will not be able to get behind the faucet because of the caulking. Also, behind the bathtub or shower assembly, into the wall.

Winding Up

So is your replaced faucet stem still leaking? I hope that I can provide you with all the possible problems and solutions.

But as I said, if it’s still leaking, you should replace the entire faucet. Make sure to buy a good quality faucet this time.

Till then, all the best!