How to Adjust a Set Screw in an Outdoor Water Spigot

The set screw in the center of your outdoor spigot holds the handle onto the body of the spigot.

The set screw keeps the handle tight to the water spigot.The set screw keeps the handle tight to the water 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.

Attach a garden hose to the outdoor water spigot to divert water while you adjust the set screw.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Things You Will Need

  • Garden hose
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Thread sealant
  • Plumber's tape


  • Replace the outdoor spigot if the set screw does not tighten and the handle remains loose.
  • If your spigot is dripping, remove the handle and access the stem. Inspect the washer and replace as necessary.

About the Author

Kenneth Crawford is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. His work has appeared in both print and online publications, including "The American Chronicle." Crawford holds an associate degree in business administration from Commonwealth College.