Faucet leaks can be a nuisance, leading to water wastage and increased utility bills. But before you can address the issue, it’s crucial to pinpoint the exact source of the leak. Here’s a detailed guide to help you identify where your faucet might be leaking. Once you identify the source of the issue, see our high-level guide to solving leaky faucets.

Faucet leaking from its base that is in need of DIY or professional repair
  1. Initial Observations: Before diving into detailed inspections, turn on the faucet and observe. Is the water dripping from the spout, the base, or the handle? This can give you a preliminary idea of where the issue might be.

  2. Check the Spout: If water is dripping from the spout, it’s likely an issue with the internal parts of the faucet, such as a worn-out washer, O-ring, or cartridge.

    For compression faucets, the rubber washer might be the culprit. For cartridge faucets, the cartridge itself might need replacement.
  3. Inspect the Base: Leaks around the base of the faucet, especially when the tap is turned on, often indicate a worn-out O-ring. The O-ring is a small rubber ring that prevents water from seeping out around the base.

  4. Examine the Handle: If water is leaking from the handle, it could be due to a loose or damaged part within the handle mechanism. For ball-type faucets, it might be the cam and packing. For others, it could be the cartridge or even the adjusting ring.

  5. Under the Sink: Sometimes, the leak isn’t visible from the top. Open the cabinet under the sink and check for any dampness or water droplets. If you find water here, it might be an issue with the supply lines or the valves.

  6. Temperature Test: If you’re unsure whether the hot or cold side is leaking, turn off one supply valve at a time and test. If the leak stops when the cold water is turned off, the issue is on the cold side, and vice versa.

  7. Listen Carefully: Sometimes, a silent hiss or a quiet drip can guide you to the source of the leak. Turn off all ambient noise and listen closely to your faucet.

  8. Use Colored Dye: If you’re struggling to identify a slow leak, a few drops of food coloring in the sink, while the plug is in, can help. If you see streaks of color, trace them back to their source.

  9. Check for External Damage: While internal wear and tear are common culprits, don’t forget to inspect the faucet for any visible external damage, cracks, or corrosion.

  10. Seek Professional Help: If you’ve gone through all these steps and still can’t identify the source, it might be time to call in the experts – if you are in NYC, call CID Plumbing. A professional plumber has specialized tools and expertise to pinpoint and address even the most elusive leaks.


Conclusion: Identifying the source of a faucet leak is the first step towards addressing the issue. While some leaks are easy to spot, others might require a bit more detective work. By following this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to track down the source of your faucet leak and take the necessary steps to fix it.

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