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My outdoor tap seized up and wouldn't close. It was gushing water. I bought a new one and replaced it. It's a cheap one from Bunnings (link, but male instead of female), screwed on to the pipe with plumbing tape in the thread.

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This one has worked well for a few months, but now it too is starting to seize up. It isn't gushing, just trickling, but it won't close completely. If I open it completely, spray WD-40 on it, and close it, it will stop flowing, but this only lasts for a few uses before it won't close completely again.

The house was built around 1996. The water source is metropolitan mains water (Melbourne, Australia) which is reliable. It's only this tap in the house that fails.

What could be causing this? What can I do to fix this permanently?

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    How is this tap attached to the pipe? What model is this tap? Can you show a picture of the tap from the website of the big box store you bought it from? – Jim Stewart Jan 22 '17 at 0:29
  • Can you replace the faucet washer? It could be getting damaged from grit in the water, if it's failing frequently. – DrMoishe Pippik Jan 22 '17 at 4:04
  • You may have to try another brand. I just replaced my two leaking 25-year-old outside taps with a pair of 3/4" ball-type 'garden valves' ("made in Italy") from a big box store. These are very stiff; I can operate them OK but my wife cannot easily turn them. Also, ball valves generally are not good at intermediate settings, i.e., they are not normally used as metering valves. I think you should stick with the globe valves like you have with a plastic washer and a valve seat. – Jim Stewart Jan 22 '17 at 4:18
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First try to grease the stem by opening the valve to max opening and smearing grease on the stem. Use special plumber's grease.

If that doesn't work, turn off the water and remove the service opening and and advance the stem all the way through the packing and apply plumber's grease to the stem where it seals against the packing. It may be necessary to apply a small amount of grease to the coarse threads inside the valve which advance and withdraw the stem, but I'm not sure about that. When putting it back in be sure to have the valve opened sufficiently so that the rubber seal is not pressed against the seat.

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Test for gunk in the water:  place a clean empty container (bucket, cookware, barrel) under the faucet and fill it up. Let the water settle for a few minutes and look and for any kind of particle, most likely on the bottom, but also floating to the top. Sometimes a little gentle stirring will make it easier to see by moving the particles in the same direction.

A common problem include aging galvanized pipe which sheds small particles of zinc and/or iron:  sometimes as flakes but also as pins. Those can get in bad places and make the valve seat/washer require hard turning to be shut completely off. A hard turning stem will wear the stem seal faster than usual.

You don't give an age of plumbing or water source (well?) but this is a possible cause.

  • I think the house was build in 1996. The water source is metropolitan mains water (Melbourne, Australia) which is reliable. It's only this tap in the house that fails, so it's more likely the plumbing shedding if it is particles. – Hand-E-Food Jan 22 '17 at 22:13

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