Can You Replace The Faucet Valve Stem? (Explained)

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Damage to the faucet valve stem is a common cause of a leaking faucet. Constant drops of water off a faucet can be annoying. And at the same time, it can mean a considerable increase in the water bill. To solve this problem could be just to change the faucet valve stem. But that makes you want to ask, can I replace the faucet valve stem?

The faucet valve stem is not a hard thing to replace, you can do it yourself. You need to start by cutting off the main water supply to the faucet. Remove the faucet handle and then you will get to the stem. Remove the stem and then replace it with a new one.

Repair of the water tap, replacement of the valve axle box

Replacing the faucet valve stem is not a complicated endeavor. But it may not really be the cause of the leaking faucet. It may be the washer or the o-ring. It is good to check for all these other possibilities. It could even be the valve or the faucet itself.

Continue reading to know more about replacing the faucet valve stem and every other thing around a leaking faucet.

How do I find a replacement faucet stem?

If you are searching for a replacement for your broken faucet stem, then you will need to first find out the faucet stem you are using now. There are different types of faucet stem. The particular one in the faucet should first be removed so that it will be a guide in getting a replacement.

Once the faucet stem has been removed, you should take it to your local plumbing supply or hardware store. Make sure to bring the stem that was removed with you, so that you don’t mistakenly buy a faucet stem that won’t fit in the faucet.

Getting the exact type may be challenging. But you should ask for the help of the expert at the store. Nothing will work as the exact replica. Not finding the faucet stem? Maybe you need to replace the whole faucet.

Get a new faucet model with the valve and all other components that go with it. Installing it should be easy if you have been successful in removing the faulty faucet stem. It is important to buy a good quality product so that you won’t have to be at the point of repair soon again.

Can you replace the faucet valve stem?

You can replace the faucet valve stem once you have confirmed it needs replacing. A couple of tools will be needed to carry out the replacement. The valve stem is located directly under the faucet handle.

Once you can take apart the faucet and its handle. You will be able to access the faucet valve stem. Tools like a basin wrench and screwdriver will come in handy for the process. Take out the stem and fit in the replacement.

You may not need to go as far as replacing the faucet valve stem actually. It could just be the washer or the O-ring that needs a change. But you will never know without disassembling the unit first. So start with removing the units to discover what is actually causing the leakage.

It is as simple as I have stated it but it is more elaborate than this brief account. Below is a detailed account of how to replace the faucet valve stem. You can replace the stem following through with these simple steps below.

How to replace a faucet valve stem

The first step in replacing the faucet valve stem is to shut off the water supply. This will make the process easy and not messy.

Locate the main water valve somewhere close to the water meter. Turn it clockwise to shut off the water supply. Turn on the faucet to drain any residual water in it.

It may require a few minutes of waiting for the water to completely drain off. This depends on where the faucet is located. If it is located at a place with a good gradient, the water may take a while to drain. Begin the work when the water stops.

The next step is to remove the faucet handle. But first, if you are working where there is a sink, cover the sink drain holes with a cloth. This will prevent any screw or any other part from falling into the drain. You won’t want to be looking for a screw in the drain.

Removing the handle can be done with a screwdriver. There should be a cap at the center of the handle. This cap is covering the screw that secures the faucet handle in place. Remove the cap with the flat end of the screwdriver. Then unscrew the handle by turning the screw anticlockwise.

After the handle has been unscrewed, carefully remove it. Take note of each step as you disassemble the faucet parts. This is important because after the replacement will come the reassembling. This can be made easier by making a note of the process.

The handle may be followed by a couple of other smaller parts before the stem. Most simple designs just have a collar around the stem. Some other designs like the ones for bathtubs may have knurled fitting before the collar.

Remove every accessory part before the stem. Then process to dislodge the stem mostly with the help of a wrench, particularly a valve stem wrench. Take this stem down to the plumbing tools store to purchase a replacement.

It is good to first remove the faucet valve stem before purchasing a new one. This will help to ensure that the exact replacement is purchased.

If you don’t mind visiting the store twice, you may choose to purchase the stem in advance. But it is most likely you will need to return it after removing the bad one.

It is about time now to begin the reassembling of the faucet. Ensure that the new valve stem has a washer at the base. The washer is important to keep the stem well in place and from leaking. Replace the new stem into the place where the old has been removed.

Using the valve stem wrench, securely fit the stem back in place. Tighten it well in place before putting the collar on it.

Ensure to replace every other part that may have been removed. Refer to the note taken while disassembling the faucet.

Finally put in place the faucet handle once again. Turn on the water supply and check out your work. Turn on the faucet handle and see if there is any leak.

If the valve stem has been the problem, now it should be resolved. But if not, you may need to look elsewhere.

How much does it cost to replace a faucet stem?

Replacing a faucet stem is not a costly thing. Since it is something you can do yourself, the major cost is on buying the new stem. The cost is dependent on the type and quality of the faucet stem.

The average cost of a faucet stem is between $70 and $150. In a case where the fixing is to be done by an expert, it will generally cost more. It can be as high as $250 to hire someone to do the fixing.

A broken faucet valve costs more than the faucet stem. A new valve also depends on the quality. It can cost up to $200 or more to purchase a new stem valve. It may be best to replace the whole faucet unit altogether. This will cost averagely between $250 and $350

If an expert is hired to do the installation, it may be more than the price range I mentioned earlier. It may be as high as $400.

Can a faucet valve be repaired?

The cause of a leaking faucet may not be the stem or the washer. It may be the valve itself that needs a thorough check. The faucet valve can be repaired in some ways. Most times the problem is with the valve seat and not the entire valve.

The valve seat can be repaired. The valve seat may have been spoiled by the washer going bad. If the washer is bad, the metal head of the stem may have ground against the valve seat. This will leave the seat uneven and thus the washer will no longer fit well into it.

There are two options for repairing the valve seat. One option is to use a seat grinder or dresser and the other is to use a seat sleeve. The seat sleeve is inserted into the uneven seat to provide the extra grip the washer needs to stay in place.

A seat dresser or grinder can be used to smoothen out the uneven valve seat. Extra caution must be taken in using this too as it can wear out the seat if used for too long or with too much pressure.

The valve seat is usually made of soft metal that can wear out under high pressure.

Remove the faucet stem completely to use the seat grinder. Place the grinder in the valve seat and turn it clockwise a few times with moderate pressure. Clean the seat off metal washings that may have been produced from the grinding process.

Return the faucet stem into place and note if the washer is now tightly in place. If this does not give a firm grip on the washer, the valve seat may need to be replaced.

The valve seat can be removed using a wrench.

Use a seat wrench to remove the valve seat by turning it anticlockwise. Insert a new seat and fit it in by turning it clockwise until it is tightly in place.

Ensure it is the right type of valve seat so that the washer and stem will fit it properly.

Are faucet valves universal?

A question that may arise in dealing with faucets is if the valves are the same for all. They are different types of faucet valves. There is no universal faucet valve but they all perform the same function.

The working principles of each valve type differ but they all achieve the same aim. The valve is in place to ensure that water gets to the faucet at the needed pressure and rate. There are four basic types of faucet valves. Below are these four basic types of faucet valves:

Compression Valve

This is the oldest type of faucet valve. It is simply composed of a screw stem that has a rubber compression washer at the base.

This screw stem moves up and down as it is turned. This movement of the stem and the washer is what controls the flow of water.

As the handle is turned on, the stem is raised causing the washer to move out of the water inlet. This permits water to rise up the stem and out of the faucet. When the handle is turned in the other direction the reverse movement is achieved.

The valve stem is lowered and the rubber washer goes back into the concave inlet to stop the water flow. This type of valve is very simple in design and operation. It is also very cheap to buy and easy to install

The major con with the use of the compression valve is the wear and tear that can cause the washer to break with use. Once the washer does not fit well into the valve seat, the faucet starts to leak. It is cheap to replace the washer or the whole valve.

Cartridge Valve

Cartridge valve is another type of faucet valve. It consists of a small cylinder that is made of brass or plastic. At the base of the cylinder is an o-ring to prevent water leakage. The cartridge valve is relatively cheap.

The small cylinder contains several channels that allow water to pass. It is these channels that control the flow rate of water and its temperature. This type of valve can be used with a two-handled faucet and a single-handled one.

In the case of a leaking faucet, only the cartridge needs to be replaced. It is then easy to manage and replace. The cost is also not high to buy a new cartridge in case of a leaking faucet.

Ball Valve

This type of valve is also common. It is used mainly for a single-handle faucet. The components of the valve are simple. It consists of a ball made of steel and a network of holes and grooves. It is these holes and grooves that work to control the water flow rate and also the temperature.

The ball valve is quite complex with its many small parts. These parts suffer wear and tear with usage. The springs, washer, and O-rings get worn out after some time. Leakage will set in as the age of the part. This will require replacing them.

Ceramic disc valve

The ceramic disc valve is the modern design of faucet valves. It features two ceramic discs that rotate. Each of these discs has channels within them.

When rotated, the channels align allowing water to pass through. And when rotated in the other direction falls out of alignment.

This design is still the most efficient, reliable, and long-lasting. It offers the most innovative design and the most modern one.

As expected, it is the most expensive type of faucet valve. And its quality is a worthy investment. It is the best choice for a good combination of value and price.

What can cause a leaking faucet?

A leaking faucet can be a source of headaches. Aside from the faucet valve stem and the valve seat, the washer or the O-ring may be the cause of the leakage. The washer issue may be solved with the replacement of the faucet stem. The new stem should come with a washer.

When disassembling the faucet, if the stem does not look worn out and rusty, then it may be the washer or O-ring.

Check the washer if it is loose or worn out. If it is loose, you can tighten it with the wrench. It should be replaced if it is worn out or broken.

The O-ring should also be tightened if it looks to be in a good condition. If it looks ragged, it is best to replace it. If these do not stop the leakage, then it must be the valve seat or the stem. The final solution may be to replace the faucet including the valve. Or probably call a plumber to examine it.

Final advice

The process of replacing the faucet valve stem is not complex. Once the right tools are assembled, a wrench and a screwdriver. Stop the water source and get to work keeping note of all the steps. This will become important for the reassembling process.

For a leaking faucet, the valve stem may not be the problem. It could be the O-ring or the washer. Open up the faucet before purchasing a replacement for whatever you think is the problem. It could be some minor change of washer or O-ring.

It could also be as simple as cleaning the valve seat or smoothening it out. If you have to replace the faucet valve stem, remove it before paying for a replacement. Because it is important to get the specific type that is removed.

Finally, on this, the faucet may need a complete overall. Getting a new faucet may be the best solution and not replace any part of the whole. Invest in a better brand and quality than the one that is there before. The more the quality, the more the durability.

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