leaking water faucet

Drip, drip, drip. Does that sound familiar? If so, you probably know that you have an issue with your faucet. What you might need help determining is why you have a leak. 

Faucets have several components that could cause the problem. It could be something as simple as a worn-out washer. However, some situations call for a more detailed repair job, including replacing your valve seats. Let’s take a look at what these are, how to replace them, and whether or not this is a job within your skillset. 

What are valve seats?

To work properly, valves need an effective way to shut off. This requires completely stopping the flow of materials, in this case, water. The component that does this in a valve is called the valve seat. They create a tight fit when the handle is turned, blocking the flow of water.

Can valve seats be reused?

You can reuse valve seats, but it requires specific situations. The main reason you replace them is that they are old and no longer work effectively. You wouldn’t want to reuse valve seats that don’t function properly. It would be better to recycle the parts.

However, if you are replacing a faucet for aesthetics, then you could potentially keep some of the old materials as spare parts. The faucet would need to have compatible parts for this to work. Valve seats are not universal to every valve.  

What causes valve seats to fall out?

You may be looking for a valve seat replacement for a number of reasons. Over their lifetime, there are several factors that cause valve seats to fail. Some of the most common would be:

  • Poor materials
  • Poor design
  • Excessive friction
  • Age

All of these play a factor in the valve seat’s longevity. Ultimately, when the force required to seal and block the flow of water can no longer be met, failure will occur. If your valve seats fall out, it is most likely from one of these causes. 

How to Replace a Valve Seat

Now that you have a better understanding of what valve seats are and why yours might have failed, let’s take a look at how to replace them. This can be done using a few simple steps.

Shut off the Water/Prep the Area

Before you start removing any parts of the facet, you need to shut off the water supply. There should be two valves (one for hot water and one for cold water) under your sink. Once you’ve turned them off, be sure to test the faucet to make sure there is no flow of water. 

Once you have done this, cover the drain. You don’t want any parts getting caught in the plumbing if you can avoid it. Finally, remove the handle of the leaking faucet so you can access the valve seats. 

Assess the Situation 

With the water supply off and the handles removed, you can now inspect the problem. As we discussed earlier, these could be hardened valve seats from poor materials, damaged washers from age, or another issue. Once you’ve determined that the valve seat is the problem, you need to make sure you can remove it. 

Removing the valve seat is simple to do. Look inside the faucet body and locate an area that looks like a hexagonal hole or a spot that would accept a screwdriver. If you can’t find one, you might need to completely replace the entire faucet assembly. 

Remove the Valve

Based on your assessment of the hole in the valve seat, use the appropriate tool to take out the valve. This will be a screwdriver or water-pump pliers in most cases. Place the valve, O-rings, and any washers aside. 

Old Valve Seat Removal

Now that the valve is removed, you can access the valve seat. Use the necessary tool (often a seat wrench) to loosen the valve seat. If it’s stuck, use a lubricant to assist in the process if necessary. 

Purchase a New Valve

Once the old part is out, it’s time to purchase the valve seat replacement. Be sure to note any identifying numbers or marks on the old one to help you purchase a new one. Most hardware stores will have a part that works for you. You can take the old part with you for comparison.

Install New Valve Seat

It’s now time to install the new piece. Insert the new seat in its place in the faucet and gently tighten it. This will require a clockwise turn. Make sure the valve seat is firmly in place before moving on to the next step. 

Reconstruct the Faucet

Put the parts of the faucet back in place following the order in which you took them apart. Clean away any dirt that might have come in contact with them during the process. Make sure that everything is firmly back in place but not over-tightened. 

Test the New Valve Seat

The final step is to remove the drain covering and test the valve. Turn the water back on underneath the sink. Check for leaks and proper functioning by turning on the faucet. 

Benefits of Hiring a Local Plumber

Replacing a valve seat can be an in-depth job. It’s not the best starting repair job for someone who has never worked with plumbing or water systems. Contacting a local plumber might be wise when your valve seats fall out. 

A professional plumber comes with a lot of perks for this job. Valve seats can be a hassle. When you hire a local plumber, you get the benefits of the following:

  • Honest and affordable service
  • More time (valve seats can take almost two hours to replace)
  • Trained eyes to locate additional issues
  • Friendly service aimed at addressing your needs

Local professionals ultimately put the problem in more seasoned hands. Contact your local plumber if you need help with issues around your home. 

The Bottom Line

A valve seat placement might be needed if your faucet is leaking. The job could take a few hours and some specific tools, depending on the materials you have on hand. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance if the process seems too big to handle.

Related: What is a Pressure Relief Valve?