Fix-It Chick: Fixing an outdoor spigot that drips

A dripping outdoor water spigot can be annoying as well as costly. A screwdriver and a few inexpensive parts may save you from replacing the whole faucet.

Step 1: Turn off the water supply to the faucet. Hopefully this can be done from the main water valve inside. If not, use a street key to turn the water off at the meter outside.

Step 2: Turn the spigot on to release any water that may still be in the line.

Step 3: Use a screwdriver to loosen the screw holding the handle in place and pull the handle off from the stem. If the handle seems stuck, twist the handle back and forth slightly while pulling straight out to remove it.

Step 4: On newer frost-free spigots, there will be a shaft collar below the faucet handle. Use an adjustable wrench to remove the shaft collar and replace the washer below if necessary. Sometimes simply tightening the shaft collar back onto the stem will stop the faucet drip.

Step 5: Use a crescent wrench to unscrew the packing nut below the faucet handle. Depending on the age and condition of the faucet, it may need to be sprayed with a penetrating lubricant like PB Blaster. After the lubricant has soaked in, turn the nut counterclockwise until it is completely free from the faucet housing.

Step 6: At this point the stem should pull free from the housing. Depending on the thickness of the wall and the faucet type, the stem should be between 2 and 12 inches long.

Step 7: At the end of the stem there should be the remains of a flat black washer held in place by a screw. Use more lubricant if necessary to remove the screw and free the washer from the base of the stem.

Step 8: Replace the existing flat washer with a beveled washer of equal size. Beveled washers typically seal older faucets better than flat washers.

Step 9: If the packing washer inside the packing nut looks worn, add some graphite or Teflon packing string to the bottom of the packing washer. This will keep water from leaking out beneath the faucet handle.

Step 10: Reassemble the spigot and tighten the packing nut back into place. Replace the handle and turn the water back on.

Step 11: Replace the hose end washer for a drip-free watering experience.

— Have a home improvement question for Fix-It Chick? Email it to Linda Cottin at


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