The hose spigot on my house leaks from the handle end, as you can see here:

enter image description here

When I took it apart, the lower washer looked intact:

enter image description here

However, I could not disassemble it any further to inspect the upper washer (which I assume is there, but who knows). It looks like the handle and the valve with the washer on it might be one piece (but, again, who knows).

The house is seventy years old, and I'm assuming the spigot is original. The questions are:

  1. Repair or replace?
  2. Either way, is this a reasonable DIY job for a plumbing novice?
  • Can you see what's on the other side of that wall, where the pipe exits the wall and into the house?
    – JACK
    Jun 13 '20 at 22:26
  • You do not depict the top of the handle in your picture..., but it would be very unusual if the handle were not held to the stem by a screw. If the handle were removed, you could remove the packing nut to reveal the packing gland area, and inspect/replace/repack this valve. If, as is often the case, the handle has fused itself to the stem eternally, don't bother.Replace the entire valve. Jun 13 '20 at 23:07
  • Doesn't need an upper washer. That one rubber washer you see is likely the only seal. Old time faucets worked that way. Once you get the screw off, just go to the hardware store and buy a 30 cent replacement washer. They get brittle and hard after 30 years. Jun 13 '20 at 23:28
  • Those are nice photos. Jun 14 '20 at 4:10

I have rarely found a faucet I can not repair. Yours needs a new valve stem packing no problem even if you cannot get the handle off. Move the nut as far as you can to the handle. I use expanded goretex rope for valve stem packing, some has graphite and is easy to install. 1/2 a dozen wraps of this will solve most valve stem leaks. I replace the washer when I do this screw the valve back on then tighten the jamb nut, if it still leaks you can loosen the jamb nut and put more wraps of packing, in a pinch I haven used the Teflon tape quite a few more wraps are needed but it will seal. Tighten the jamb nut and turn the water on again. I have repaired valves that were over 100 years old doing this 5 minute repair procedure.


When a valve leaks from the top then the seal/washer/packing, that's under that nut you can't remove because of the handle, is bad. There should be a screw that secures the handle to the valve stem but it could be corroded over. I'd first try pouring some CLR on it to see if you can loosed up the handle. Then you could stop by your plumbing supply store and get a new seal and also replace the bottom washer as it's pretty well compressed. You'd be good to go.

Replacing spigots is a relatively simple job. You have turn off the water to the spigot and then remove the spigot from the pipe protruding from the wall. A 12" adjustable wrench will usually do the trick. A word of caution. When turning the spigot counterclockwise to remove it, make sure only the spigot is turning and not the protruding pipe. You don't want to disconnect the pipe on the wrong side of your shutoff (Don't ask how I know this). Then take your new spigot, apply some pipe dope and screw it on. Turn on the water and check for leaks inside and out.


You can probably stop the stem leak by removing the handle ,then remove the packing nut, then wrap the stem with several turns of teflon tape. The teflon makes good packing material. Maybe the stem could use some polishing before putting on the tape. New cheap brass valves will not give the service of that old bronze valve.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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