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Fixing a Leaking Faucet with a Digital Camera

Updated on September 3, 2011

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I am not much of a do it yourself person when it comes to my car or home. However, I do have tools and have become adept at fixing small things as well as undertaking the occasional small project.

While I often enjoy the challenge of a small repair or project as well as the satisfaction that comes from completing it, such projects are few and far between which means that I usually need some education before starting.

With a Home Depot, an Ace Hardware and now a Lowe's all within three miles of my home it is fairly easy to get information from the sales people when I stop by to purchase whatever parts I need.

The problem usually arises when I attempt to describe the replacement part I need. I will admit that my limited vocabulary and lack of experience in the area of home repair contributes to this problem. But more often than not it is due to the age of the thing I am attempting to fix.

Walk into a Home Depot or Lowe's and the plumbing aisle alone is larger and has more merchandise than the hardware stores that my Father used to visit for similar projects when I was growing up in Rochester, New York.

In those days a few standard parts fit everything. Today, technology and innovation are producing new and better parts yearly. Since our home is about 20 years old, this sometimes presents a problem when I need to replace a part that has given out.

So, when our the faucet on our kitchen sink began leaking almost as much water around the seal at the base as was coming out the spout every time we turned it on, it was time to repair it.

Since it appeared that the key to removing the faucet handle was the removal of a hex nut, I had to make a trip to Home Depot to purchase a set of small allen wrenches.

After turning off the shut off valves under the sink for the hot and cold water, I went to work on the nut. It took some effort to loosen the nut that probably had not been loosened since its installation some twenty years ago, but I finally got it off.

However, to my great disappointment, there was no evidence of a washer that could be easily replaced for a couple of dollars or less. Instead there was a strange looking device that gave the appearance that it could not be taken apart. Not only could I not take the thing apart, I also could not find a way to remove this part from the faucet housing.

Going under the sink, I saw what appeared to be a couple of plastic nuts holding the entire faucet unit to the sink but, between the cramped work space and the refusal of the nuts to budge despite my best efforts, I backed off. After all, I was going to all of this trouble and effort in an attempt to avoid having to call a plumber and pay a triple digit or more fee for parts and labor to get this fixed.

I needed some advice and knew that I could get excellent advice from one of the people in the plumbing section of Home Depot.

But that would require that I describe the part that was causing the problem and I didn't think that thing-a-ma-jig was the correct term.

Even when modified with some choice expletives as adjectives, I doubted that the person would know what part I needed.

So, out came my digital camera and pictures were taken of both the open faucet housing on the sink and the attachments underneath the sink.

While the viewing screen on my camera seemed to be adequate, as an extra precaution, I called my son over and we copied the pictures to his PSP portable gaming device which has a bigger screen. Then off to Home Depot.

After showing the clerk in the plumbing aisle my pictures, the fellow immediately led me to two options.

The first was a replacement unit for the the part that was leaking. That cost $10. The other option involved replacing the entire faucet and they had a large variety to choose from.

Fearing that the part in my faucet may have been an earlier model that was not intended to be replaced, I also choose a nice replacement faucet for $40.

I then showed the fellow the pictures of the connection under the sink and asked if I could break the faucet if necessary to remove it without damaging anything else. He assured me that I could so long as I focused on just breaking the faucet and nothing else.

That was all I needed as I have always found Alexander the Great's solution of simply slashing the Gordian Knot with his sword rather than attempting to unravel the @%! thing to be a great solution to many things.

No longer worried about damage to the faucet, my son and I returned home and went to work with force and, having added a hammer to the tools in use, quickly removed the old faucet – we even succeeded without actually breaking anything.

A quick glance showed that the problem unit inside the housing was an earlier model that was built into the faucet housing, leaving us no choice but to install the new faucet that we had purchased.

An hour later, the new faucet was in a working, the leak gone and we were on our way back to Home Depot to return the unused part.

Disassembled Faucet

My Son Working Under the Sink

Faucet Hook-up Under Counter


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