Skip to content

Wisconsin Winter Plumbing: Fixing a Leaky Faucet


Hi I’m Your Plumber Ken

I am a licensed plumber with a passion for fixing leaks and keeping homes running smoothly. With years of experience under my belt, I have become the go-to plumber in the area for all things plumbing-related. Give me a call at 844-423-0056 when your plumbing issues pop up or use the form below.

Wisconsin’s winters are notoriously severe and freezing, posing particular concerns for homeowners. Leaky faucets are a typical problem during the cold months. A leaking faucet may appear to be a small irritation, but it can lead to more serious issues such as frozen pipes and higher power costs. In this detailed tutorial, we’ll walk you through the process of fixing a leaking faucet and provide advice on how to avoid winter plumbing problems.

Understanding the Causes of a Leaky Faucet

Before diving into the repair process, it’s essential to understand why faucets leak. Common causes include:

  1. Worn-Out Washer: The washer inside the faucet handles the pressure from water flow. Over time, this washer can wear out, leading to leaks.
  2. Corroded Valve Seat: The valve seat connects the faucet to the spout. Corrosion can occur due to sediment buildup, causing leaks.
  3. Loose or Worn-Out O-Ring: The O-ring is a small disc attached to the stem screw, which holds the handle of the faucet in place. It can become loose or wear out over time.
  4. Old Cartridge: Faucets with cartridges can develop leaks if the cartridge itself is old or damaged.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

To fix a leaky faucet, gather the following tools and materials:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Screwdriver (Phillips and flat-head)
  • Replacement parts (washer, O-ring, cartridge, as needed)
  • Plumber’s tape
  • Pliers
  • Penetrating oil
  • Cloth or rag

Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing a Leaky Faucet

1. Turn Off the Water Supply

Before you begin any repair, ensure the water supply to the faucet is turned off. Look under the sink for the shutoff valves and turn them clockwise. If you can’t locate the valves, you may need to shut off the main water supply to your home.

2. Drain the Faucet

Turn on the faucet to drain any remaining water from the pipes. This step ensures you won’t have water spilling out when you disassemble the faucet.

3. Remove the Faucet Handle

Using a screwdriver, remove the handle of the faucet. Depending on your faucet type, you might need to pry off a decorative cap to access the screw. Once the screw is removed, carefully lift off the handle.

4. Dismantle the Faucet

After removing the handle, you’ll need to dismantle the faucet to access the internal components. Use an adjustable wrench to loosen and remove the packing nut. If the nut is corroded or difficult to remove, apply penetrating oil and let it sit for a few minutes before trying again.

5. Inspect and Replace Parts

Once the faucet is disassembled, inspect the various components for wear and tear. Common parts that may need replacement include:

  • Washer: Located at the bottom of the valve stem, the washer can wear out and cause leaks. Replace it with a new one of the same size.
  • O-Ring: Check the O-ring for any signs of damage or wear. Replace it if necessary.
  • Cartridge: If your faucet has a cartridge, inspect it for damage and replace it if needed.

6. Reassemble the Faucet

After replacing the necessary parts, reassemble the faucet in the reverse order of disassembly. Ensure all components are securely tightened but be careful not to overtighten, as this can cause damage.

7. Turn On the Water Supply

Once the faucet is reassembled, turn the water supply back on by turning the shutoff valves counterclockwise. Turn on the faucet to check for any leaks. If the faucet is no longer leaking, congratulations! You’ve successfully repaired your leaky faucet.

Preventing Winter-Related Plumbing Issues

Fixing a leaky faucets is just one part of maintaining your plumbing during Wisconsin’s harsh winters. Here are some additional tips to prevent winter-related plumbing issues:

1. Insulate Pipes

Pipes exposed to cold temperatures are at risk of freezing. Insulate your pipes, especially those in unheated areas like basements, crawl spaces, and garages. Use foam pipe insulation or heat tape to protect them from freezing.

2. Keep a Drip

During extremely cold weather, allow faucets to drip slightly. This keeps water moving through the pipes, reducing the risk of freezing.

3. Seal Gaps and Cracks

Inspect your home for gaps and cracks that allow cold air to reach your pipes. Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal these openings and keep your plumbing system protected.

4. Disconnect Outdoor Hoses

Before winter sets in, disconnect and drain outdoor hoses. This prevents any remaining water in the hoses from freezing and causing damage to the faucet or pipes.

5. Maintain a Consistent Temperature

Keep your home at a consistent temperature, even when you’re away. Set your thermostat to at least 55°F to ensure that your pipes stay warm enough to prevent freezing.

6. Know Where Your Shutoff Valve Is

In case of an emergency, it’s crucial to know where your main shutoff valve is located. This allows you to quickly turn off the water supply if a pipe bursts or if there’s a significant leak.


Dealing with a leaking faucet in the middle of a Wisconsin winter is a daunting undertaking, but with the correct equipment and expertise, it is doable. By following this instructions, you can repair your leaking faucet and take preventative measures to avoid winter plumbing problems. Remember, regular maintenance and rapid repairs are essential for maintaining your plumbing system in excellent operating condition during the winter months. Stay warm and prepared.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.