Replace a faucet washer on a hose bib. Plumbing Repairs:

Dripping Outdoor Tap -
Replacing A Faucet Washer

In This Article:

A freeze-proof outdoor faucet is taken apart and the rubber washer is replaced.

Related Articles:
Skill Level: 2 (Basic) Time Taken: About Half An Hour

By , Editor


This faucet is actually turned off.

As you can see, it's not working properly.


I kept this Y-splitter on the faucet all summer. I had been leaving the faucet on, and I simply shut off the water with the ball valves built into the splitter.

But I can't keep doing this. The water inside the faucet will freeze and expand, causing something to burst. After the pipes thaw, the water will start running... it could be indoors or outdoors. Taking chances with unprotected faucets in cold northern areas is just plain stupid.


First: Turn Off The Water.

My house has old-fashioned globe valves upstream and downstream of the water meter. I had to use a big pair of Channel-Lock pliers to turn the valve.

Luckily, the valve actually shut off completely.


This is the back side of the outdoor faucet.

I could tell that the faucet was the freeze-proof deep-type because of the wide brass component that separates the 1/2" copper pipe from the larger-diameter pipe that extends through the wall.


I used a big adjustable wrench to remove the packing nut. The packing nut holds the inner workings of the faucet in place. Removing body of outdoor faucet.


Removing valve stem on hose bib. I removed the valve stem. This was quite long... about 12 inches.


The business end of the outdoor faucet:

This is where the water gets shut off, and it's 12 inches deep in the wall. If everything is built correctly, that point 12 inches inside the house will be in a warm location, and the water in the pipe won't freeze.

Faucet washer on hose bib.


Replace faucet washer. I removed the screw that held the faucet washer in place.


I used a very small screwdriver to carefully pry out the old washer.


Compare old and new faucet washers. The old washer is on the left, and a new 1/4" flat washer is on the right.


Before installing the washer, I used a toothpick to clean the pocket that the washer sat in.

Using a metal tool can gouge the brass surfaces, and possibly cause another leak.


I tried to insert the new 1/4" washer, but it was too tight.


So I located a similar beveled washer (seen on the right).


The beveled washer fit just fine.

I guess some knucklehead replaced a beveled washer with a flat washer, and had to force it to fit. I'm surprised that the wrong faucet washer worked at all.


I replaced the screw that held the washer in place. New washer installed in outdoor faucet.


Applying silicone grease to faucet threads so it's not hard to turn. I applied some silicone grease to the valve stem threads. This should help make the faucet easier to turn.


I inserted the valve stem into the faucet body.


I also wrapped the outer threads with Teflon tape.



The procedure for getting the valve stem back in place is critical. There are TWO threaded pieces that are being simultaneously tightened, and it's possible to damage the valve.

When I inserted the valve stem, the stem hit something before the packing nut could reach the corresponding threads on the outside of the faucet body. I partially closed the valve stem (by turning the handle) about one turn clockwise and then the packing nut could reach the valve body. Then I began tightening the packing nut... but just a couple of turns.

I had to back off the valve stem (by turning the handle to open the faucet) while I continued to tighten the packing nut. If I didn't back the valve stem out, it could jam against the threads on the inside of the valve body... way deep inside... possibly breaking the soft brass threads and ruining the faucet.

The key is: You need to be able to turn the faucet handle while the packing nut is being tightened.


Once the packing nut was hand tight, I tightened it with the wrench.


I went inside and turned the water supply back on. I let the water run for a few minutes to purge any crud in the system.


The moment of truth:

When I shut off the faucet it actually stopped the water. Success!



I replaced the fiberglass insulation in the joist bay behind the faucet, being careful not to cover up the inner-most end of the faucet... that's the point where the water stops, and that area must be kept on the warm side of the insulation.


More Info:

Tools Used:

  • Adjustable Wrench, 12"
  • Flat-Blade Screwdriver
  • Pliers

Materials Used:

  • Beveled Faucet Washer
  • Teflon Tape
  • Silicone Grease
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Written December 22, 2006