Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Even The Simple Repairs - Leaky RV Faucet? It's Really An Easy Fix.

    When I came back from my last trip recently, I found a small amount of water was dripping from underneath my lavatory sink faucet. It was collected under (and on) the cold water pipe connection, right where the threads on the faucet assembly screw onto the cold water pipe connection. It's usually just screwed on by hand, so it shouldn't be too tight. Mine appears to have been over-tightened at some point and a tiny crack had developed in the threads. At first I believed it was the nut on the pipe itself, but it wasn't. Kind of odd, but that's what it was (the threads I mean). This was causing a small drip-type leak when the faucet was on and cold water was being used. It's always disheartening to find something like this, but with a tiny bit of knowledge it's easy to replace the faucet and move on. Never fear, this sounds like it could be a daunting task, but it really won't be... I promise. Here's how.

First, make sure you can actually GET to the fixture itself. Mine is in an under-sink cabinet that is very small and hand access is tight. But do-able. Since it's so dark inside, an aim-able light or a general utility light will help a great deal. You may not be able to use it when you are actually reaching your hands in to loosen or tighten, but it helps to look at everything and figure it out BEFORE you start! First, make sure your water pump is OFF and there is no residual pressure at the faucet. It's easy to check, just open the hot/cold taps until no water runs out. Next, the two water lines have to be disconnected. Try to just unscrew them by hand first. (Remember, Lefty Loosy, Righty Tighty) If they come off, Great! If not, you can use channel lock, or other pliers to gently try and twist them off. If you apply too much force, there is a good chance something will break. Be careful!

See The Black Retaining Nut At The Top?
Once off, you have to reach all the way at the top of the threads just below the fixture itself. There are two retaining nuts up there. Again they should be hand tight. Rotate these off and the entire fixture should come right out. There may be some sealant under and/or around the fixture to stop errant dribbles, but it should pull free easily. Once out, check the pipes, their threaded connections and the surrounding area. This is a good time to check around since you can see through the gap where the faucet used to be! Clean off any Teflon or other sealing tape that may have been used. You will have to decide if you want to use Teflon tape on the threads or not. There are two schools of thought on this -- some do, some don't. I installed mine without tape and it ISN'T leaking. If yours does, try a couple of wraps of Teflon tape before giving up.

**Of course, I couldn't find an exact replacement for my existing single handle faucet, I had to buy a regular old/cheap Walmart two handle bathroom faucet with 4" spread between the hot/cold inlets. It's the right size, but I prefer the single handle. On the up side, the price was right at $9.97! Since I needed it not to leak for the trip the next got installed. I did order the correct (and much more expensive one) but it wouldn't arrive until after I was already gone. I will swap them out when I get back. (See, that's a good reason to forgo the Teflon tape.) **

Clean And Dry!
It may be you bought one with a different base shape or size, so now is the time to add some plumber's putty, or sealant underneath. Not much, just enough to prevent splashed water from going into the cabinet once the pipes are reconnected. Place the new fixture in the hole and screw on the retaining nuts. Make sure the faucet is exactly where you want it, then tighten the retaining nuts. Next, put the hot/cold water pipes onto the appropriate inlets on the faucet and tighten. Then, turn on the water pump to pressurize the system and look at the pipes...any leaks? No? Good! Now slowly open the taps, first cold, then hot and make sure you get water flow and no leaks from underneath. If all is are done!

As always, the descriptions of these tasks sound MUCH longer than the actual actions. Take my word for it, this is a pretty easy job. The hardest part, for me, was getting my hands on the retaining nuts to take it off...the very small and confined spaces under my sink to work on anything. I have no idea what an RV service place would charge for this job, but with just my labor and the cost of the faucet, I'll wager my way is cheaper.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

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