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What Causes a Faucet to Drip?

TechXpert verified by Rob Ilie

Corrosion and defective parts are the most common causes of a dripping faucet. As parts break and wear down over time, water can escape through gaps in your faucet's seals and handles, leading to leaks out the spout, handles, or around the base.

Picky Parts

You use your faucets frequently, so it’s no surprise they can start to pose problems. Everything from a faulty handle to limited water flow can disrupt your day, but a leaky faucet is one of the most common frustrations — sooner or later, almost every homeowner will deal with this issue.

Even the smallest drips can waste water and drive up your water bill, so a little leak can be a big concern. Most often, rubber parts are to blame: Things like o-rings, washers, and gaskets can be defective and are prone to wearing out, affecting your water flow and control.


The o-rings in your faucet are small round rubber rings that prevent water from escaping around your spout. These inexpensive o-rings are essential for eliminating drips, and fortunately, they’re simple to replace when they wear down. O-rings can loosen or wear out over time or from environmental factors, so this is a good part to begin with when you’re looking to repair a leaky faucet.


Washers help start and stop the flow of water to your sink. When you turn the handle on your faucet to shut off the water, the washer is pushed against the valve seat. It’s used every time you run the water, so it’s prone to wearing down and causing your faucet to drip.


Gaskets are mechanical seals that keep your system from leaking. When a gasket is defective, the seal is compromised and water can leak out.

The Lowdown on Buildup

Broken parts are just one problem to consider. In some cases, mineral buildup and corrosion inside your faucet can prevent valves and seals from doing their job, letting water seep through. If you’re noticing mineral buildup, a bit of cleaning and scrubbing can be a smart first step.

Still Stumped?

Have you found that a faulty part or buildup is to blame? Great! Now you can learn how to fix your leaky faucet. Is the leak still a mystery? It might be time to call in a professional plumber to get to the bottom of the problem quickly.

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