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We're replacing our washer so I had to turn off the laundry faucets, hook up the new washer, and then turn them back on.

In doing so, the hot water faucet now has a slight leak where the stem of the knob enters the faucet.

What are my options to fix this? Can I add any sealant around the stem? Does the stem part come off and replaceable? Or should I just relegate myself to replacing the entire thing?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Try tightening the packing nut (the hex part the stem goes through) a little. That's what it's for. Don't overdo it. The "packing" is the material that seals around the stem - the packing nut compresses that material. On a valve that is not used often, actuating the valve does commonly cause it to leak, as things have "set." Tighten a little, wait, tighten a little more, wait - try to sneak up on it, as the pressure is a balance between enough to seal and little enough that the valve turns easily.

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1  
aha! Thanks! I was able to nudge it ever-so-slightly tighter. On closer look, it appears I wasn't the first to do this. The HW faucet's packing nut is at least one half turn tighter than the cold. And I think a bit of the packing material is squeezing through. Can I 'repack' it if it's just too far gone? –  DA01 Aug 21 at 21:21
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Very often, depending upon the make of that valve, you can buy packing washers to replace the old one. They don't sell very well, though; people tend to just crank them down tighter & tighter until they finally throw up their hands and replace the whole valve. Pity, when the packing washer is the only faulty part... –  TDHofstetter Aug 22 at 0:11
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@DA01, though... yours isn't too far gone, not yet. Not for years to come. If you ever need to retighten it a little more, try closing the valve a little (quarter-turn) first. –  TDHofstetter Aug 22 at 0:13
    
Thanks everyone. I ended up dismantling the faucet and getting some new packing rope. Repacked it, put it all back together, and it's working! (Fingers crossed). In the end, easier that I thought it'd be. Home Depot said they don't sell washers for these anymore because most people don't bother fixing and just replace them. A shame as it really wasn't that difficult in the end. –  DA01 Aug 23 at 18:17

The accepted answer is the correct way to fix the problem.

However, if there's a valve that's too corroded to turn the nut, or that isn't fixed by that solution, you can give this a try. It's not a good solution, but it works in a pinch :)

A common practice when this type of leak happens is to simply open the valve all the way, except more so. In other words, turn the knob counterclockwise until it stops, then continue to crank it counterclockwise. It can force a wider part of the metal valve stem into the metal body of the valve, and create a seal that way. You'll eventually have to repair/replace the valve, but at least you can put it off until the weekend.

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Yes, it is called "back-seating" the valve. Some specialty valves are actually designed to be back-seated. –  Jimmy Fix-it Aug 22 at 3:14

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