I have no idea why this isn't simple, perhaps because every repair project has to have some hitch in it to piss me off.

I have a leaky hose bib in my back yard, so I wanted to take the sucker apart and replace the washer in the valve stem, right?

Well, I took the screw out, the one in the middle of the handle. Then I unscrewed the hex around the stem, but the sucker just won't come loose. It shakes around and wobbles like it should come off, but it just doesn't.

I thought maybe I needed to unscrew the handle out of there once I got the screw and nut off, but wound up just breaking off part of the handle.

So now I am buying a new hose bib anyway to replace the one I broke, but I am still curious, how the heck do I get that sucker off?

For reference, the hose bib is the style pictured here.

alt text


3 Answers 3


There are about 5 steps to this and it's easier if you have a breakdown diagram.

The pictured hose bib is a Prier, probably a C-138

Two for the price of one, first section is how to replace the seat washer, second to repair stem leakage.

Note: The Handle, Stem, Stuffing Box, Packing Nut, Packing Nut Seal and Seat Washer all come out as one complete assembly on this faucet.

Replacing the Seat Washer, Faucet leaks when fully closed.

  1. Find the water shutoff for the zone this faucet is in (mains for whole house if that's the only one) and shut the water supply off.

  2. Turn the hose bib handle 1/4 turn open.

  3. Loosen the Packing Nut (see illus below). As you turn it, the Stem will probably turn with it, if not, turn both Stem and Packing Nut in the same direction till the Stem/Packing Nut assembly comes out of the faucet body.

  4. Remove the Seat Sealing Washer screw, and replace the washer.

  5. Reverse operation for assembly.

enter image description here

If the faucet is leaking around the handle, gently tighten the Stuffing Box Nut 1/16-1/8 turn to compress the packing (what the stem seal is called). If it feels like you're tightening metal to metal, the packing has worn out and needs to be replaced.

Replacing the Packing, Faucet leaks around the stem when open.

  1. Remove Handle Screw and Handle.

  2. Remove Stuffing Box Nut (also called a Gland Nut).

  3. Remove Packing and replace with new packing washer or graphited packing cord.

  4. Replace Stuffing Box Nut (finger tight)

  5. Replace Handle and Handle Screw.

  6. Make sure you have a hose and closed nozzle attached to the hose bib.

  7. Open faucet to pressurize hose and tighten Stuffing Box Nut down gently until the stem stops leaking.


(I need to do one of these myself in the next couple of days.)

As I recall, you would follow this procedure...

  1. Turn off the water, so no pressure is found at the valve itself.

  2. Remove the handle, by unscrewing the small screw in the center. Be careful not to damage the phillips head recess, as this screw is probably made of brass.

  3. Remove the small nut around the stem.

  4. Put the handle back on. This part is only temporary, to allow you to unscrew the stem itself.

  5. If the stem will not pull out, you need to pull out the packing around the stem. That packing prevents water from escaping past the stem when the water is turned on. You may need a needle nose pliers to pull the packing out.

  6. Once the packing is removed, the stem should unscrew easily. Do so.

  7. Verify that you have the correct size washer, and put the new one in. Again, be careful with that screw as it is often made of a soft metal. If you damage the head, replace it too. (If the water has been dripping for too long, the seat for the valve can actually be eroded. So look inside for signs of this. There are tools you can use to repair a valve seat, but it might just be better to replace a valve that is badly damaged.)

  8. Screw the stem back in.

  9. Replace the packing. New packing can be bought from your local hardware store, and it is a good idea to replace it now. It is basically cord, impregnated with graphite or teflon, that will compact under pressure from the nut.

  10. Put the packing nut back on, not too tight that the stem will not turn, but not too loose that water comes out when the pressure is back on. Either of these problems are easily identified and resolved of course.

  11. Put back the handle in its proper place, tighten down the screw carefully.

  12. Turn the water back on. Check for leaks.

I think I got the major steps down.


There are two nuts. One is the packing nut, right under the handle. It tightness the packing around the stem and keeps water from leaking around the stem. The second nut, called the bonnet nut, below the parking nut on the body of the hose bib, keeps you from opening the valve so far that it falls off leaving you with a mess! You cannot take the stem out without removing the second nut. It's in your picture. From top to bottom: screw, handle, stem, packing nut, bonnet nut.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.