Outdoor faucet won't shut off

topic posted Tue, August 5, 2008 - 12:37 PM by  Larry
I've got a frost-free faucet that won't shut off. I've taken off the handle and pulled out the stem, but I can't see anything obviously broken. There is a washer screwed into the end of the stem, a washer that's wide and very thin, and it seems to be pretty flimsy with wear. Could this wafer-thin washer be what's preventing the water from shutting off? It doesn't seem sturdy enough to hold back any water pressure. The end of the stem is on a spring and that seems to be ok -- it pushes in and back out freely.

I found a replacement kit -- washers and O-rings -- on the internet (Home Depot didn't have anything but 3/8 and 1/4 washers that were too thick) but I'd rather not buy it if someone who knows more about these kinds of repairs (and just about anybody knows more about these repairs than I do) thinks I'd be better off just buying a new stem. ...And any idea where I could buy the stem? Home Depot and Aco don't have the part.

posted by:
  • Re: Outdoor faucet won't shut off

    Tue, August 5, 2008 - 12:48 PM
    Ok quick plumbing 101.
    The way a screw type faucet works is you have the stem with a screw on it allowing you to turn the handle. A stem with a washer <called the seal> At the other end in the housing is a generally brass fitting that the washer screws down to called the seat.

    When ya turn the handle the gap between the seat and seal is closed shutting off the water.

    Generally with an outdoor faucet it is the seal that wears out. As it appears you have found.

    Home depot now has a really limited selection of washers and o rings. I tend to have better luck with smaller independent retailers, they tend to carry those little parts. Take the stem with you to match it up it needs to fit well..

    Now if that does not work. Then likely you need to replace the whole assembly since most of them now have the seat cast into them and is not removable.

    Good luck
    • Re: Outdoor faucet won't shut off

      Wed, August 6, 2008 - 2:15 PM
      Thanks or the info -- now that I'm clear on the seal and seat I'll be able to fix it, one way or the other.
      • Unsu...

        Re: Outdoor faucet won't shut off

        Wed, August 6, 2008 - 3:29 PM
        If it's a frost free model the Seat might come out. Those things cost a little more.

        What I haven't been able to find are the hollow drop tubes in the riser stems for them. If you over tighten you'll crush 'em and that's all she wrote.
  • Unsu...

    Re: Outdoor faucet won't shut off

    Thu, August 7, 2008 - 7:23 AM
    I have decided not to replace my frost free faucets when they fail but rather to install a ball valve on the inside of the buiding that I'll shut off and leave the outside valve open. The damn things just aren't worth the bother.
    • Re: Outdoor faucet won't shut off

      Thu, August 7, 2008 - 9:00 AM
      I completely agree and have done the same thing on a couple places I have worked on and owned. I just add shutting off the outside water to my list of things to do in the fall.

      • Re: Outdoor faucet won't shut off

        Sat, August 9, 2008 - 5:14 PM
        I was lucky in that the old one was not soldered on and I did not solder the new one. I went with a reg one. I was told as long as the hose was disconnected in freezing weather a reg. one would do fine. So far so good. I also use those styrofoam covers sometimes here in NM.

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