How to Change a Washer in an Outdoor Faucet

Leaky outdoor faucets are a source of damp soil right next to the foundation of your home. While this may be good for your landscaped plants, the leaking is a waste of water and will only get worse with time and further wear. Fix the leak so that when you turn off the water, the area under the faucet stays dry and you're not paying money for water seeping into the ground.

Outdoor faucets start leaking over time and need repair.
  1. Turn off the water to the faucet from inside the house -- usually in the basement. Turn the faucet on to allow remaining water in the pipe to drain, and to check that there is no further water flow.

  2. Unscrew the nut that holds the valve assembly in place, usually just after the twist handle. Use an adjustable wrench to get a firm grip and turn the large nut counter-clockwise until it loosens and you can unscrew it.

  3. Remove the valve assembly from the plumbing. Look at the inner end of the assembly for the small screw holding everything together. Use a small screwdriver to remove it; depending on the manufacturer and the age of the faucet, this may require either a slotted or a Phillips screwdriver.

  4. Pry the old washer off with a small eyeglass screwdriver or the tip of a pocketknife. Take the old washer with you when you go shopping so you can get an exact replica to fit your faucet.

  5. Apply a small amount of plumber's grease to the washer on both sides. Slide the new washer in place and replace the screw holding the assembly together. Place the valve assembly back on the stem sticking out of the wall and twist the nut to hold it together. Tighten the nut with the adjustable wrench until snug.

About the Author

Maryland resident Heide Braley is a professional writer who contributes to a variety of websites. She has focused more than 10 years of research on botanical and garden articles and was awarded a membership to the Society of Professional Journalists. Braley has studied at Pennsylvania State University and Villanova University.