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I have a faucet like the one shown in the below Fig.1.

The faucet does not leak under normal operation. But when I press downward with some force on the top of the handle, water overflows out the tops and sides of the crystal knob. All the faucets in the house behave the same way. But it's an old house. So they all might be bad.

Does this faucet need to be repaired? Or is it working as designed?

Fig.1. Single control faucet: water comes out the top and sides of knob when knob is pressed down

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No, the faucet should not leak like you describe when moderate pressure is applied directly straight into the faucet knob. Excessive force there is a possibility that it would leak unless you broke it first in which case you would likely have a gusher to deal with.

There are seals onside this type of faucet assembly that can get worn, old and hard and even crack with age and use. When the seals start to fail it can leak in various ways under multiple use scenarios. Sometimes it is simply a process that the seals need some lubricated with food grade petroleum jelly. But in most leak situations like you describe you would have to turn off the water source and take the faucet apart so that the seals and maybe even the ball valve can be replaced.

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I have a 3 of these Delta ball type faucets in my home. Every couple years, I have to service at least one of them, depending on the usage.

You can find the various parts and kits at your local home supply store. I recommend getting the kit, and replacing all rubber parts.

These faucets have a central ball whose movement partially uncovers the hot & cold supply feeds as you move it. There are rubber gaskets and springs on the supply, and there is a cap gasket on top.

If you buy the kit, it typically comes with a tool that includes an allen wrench to remove the lever. In your case, pop the cap and see what is holding the knob on. Once the knob or lever is off, you need to loosen the crown cap, a special spanner wrench does that. Once the pressure is off, you should be able to loosen the crown ring. After badly scratching one faucet, I always use a fabric strap wrench to do this.

Remove the ball, and inspect it for wear and smoothness. The ball shouldn't need to be replaced very often, but if you have a heavily used faucet, they make metal replacement balls. Look in the bottom at the supply gaskets. Pull them out with a screw driver. Put replacements back in. The cap that holds the ball down has a rubber face and wears out over time. You reassemble everything and then tighten the crown gasket down. As it breaks in, you may want to re-tighten it after a few weeks. It may feel stiff at first, but you need pressure to keep the seal.

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