How to Repair the Outdoor Faucet When the Water Comes Out the Top

Outdoor faucets that supply water to the hose and sprinklers are compression faucets.

Replacing a washer will usually fix a leaky hose bib.Replacing a washer will usually fix a leaky hose bib.
They have a valve stem that pushes against the valve seat when you tighten the handle, stopping the flow of water. When a compression faucet leaks out the top, it is almost always because the washer on the bottom of the valve stem is worn. It is very easy to replace this washer.

Turn off the water to the faucet before you begin. You may have to trace along the pipes until you find the shut-off valve. It will probably be somewhere in the basement or crawl space, or near your water meter.

Use channel locking pliers to unscrew the nut holding the valve stem in place. If it is rusted or corroded and won't turn, spray on a little thread lubricant, wait five minutes, and try again.

Remove the valve stem from the faucet and examine the washer on the bottom. If it is worn, unscrew the screw holding it in place and remove it. Take the whole faucet to the hardware store for a replacement, as the washer may be too worn to size correctly.

Screw on the replacement washer and replace the valve stem into the faucet. Before screwing on the holding nut, wrap a little teflon tape clockwise around the threads.

Turn the water back on and test the faucet for leaks.

Things You Will Need

  • Chanel locking pliers
  • Thread lubricant
  • Screwdriver
  • Teflon tape


  • If water leaks from the faucet while it is open, tighten the nut holding the faucet stem.
  • If the faucet continues to leak when it is off, even with a new washer, the valve seat is probably damaged and it's time for a new faucet.


  • If you forget to turn off the water before removing the faucet stem, you will have a fountain that will be impossible to quell until you do turn it off. The water pressure will prevent you from replacing the stem.

About the Author

Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.