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How to Adjust a Set Screw in an Outdoor Water Spigot

Kenneth Crawford

The set screw in the center of your outdoor spigot holds the handle onto the body of the spigot. Most people mistake the set screw as a part of the spigot stem. The spigot stem has a rubber washer on the end inside the plumbing pipe. A faulty washer causes drips because water is seeping past the washer when the spigot is in the off position. Adjusting a set screw in an outdoor faucet is only necessary if the handle is loose.

The set screw keeps the handle tight to the water spigot.
  1. Attach a garden hose to the outdoor water spigot to divert water while you adjust the set screw.

  2. Rotate the spigot handle counterclockwise to fully open the water supply. Tighten the set screw with a Phillips-head screwdriver and turn the handle clockwise to turn the water off. Check the handle to ensure it is tight.

  3. Turn off the water supply to the outdoor water spigot, if the set screw does not tighten securely. The shutoff is either under the house in line with the spigot plumbing pipe or in the house usually in a basement or laundry room.

  4. Open the spigot handle fully to allow any remaining water in the line to drain. Leave the faucet handle in the open position. Remove the set screw with a Phillips-head screwdriver.

  5. Apply some thread sealant or plumber's tape to the threads of the set screw. Install the set screw back into the center of the handle and tighten with the Phillips-head screwdriver. Turn the water supply back on to the outdoor spigot.