How to Fix a Leaky Hose Bib

A leaky hose bib can be a nuisance and lead to wasted water and damage if left unrepaired. Thankfully, fixing a leaky hose bib is usually a straightforward DIY project that can be completed in less than an hour with some basic tools and parts.

Locating the Leak

The first step is to identify where exactly the hose bib is leaking from. There are a few ways to do this:

Visual Inspection

Carefully examine the hose bib and surrounding areas for any water damage, mineral deposits, rust, or other signs of leakage. Leaks often occur at pipe joints and connections. Focus the inspection nearest the wall where the pipe enters the house.

Feeling for Moisture

Run your hand along the hose bib and pipe, feeling for any moisture or damp spots. Leaking water may drip down the pipe before emerging from the wall or foundation.

Using a Reveal Spray

Apply a reveal spray product or very diluted soap/water solution to the hose bib and connections. Turn on the water supply. Bubbles will appear at the source of any leaks.

Monitoring Water Meter

Check your water meter when no water is running in the home. If the meter is moving at all, undetected leaks like a hose bib drip may be present.

Once the leak is located, turn off the shutoff valve inside the house that supplies water to the hose bib. This is crucial to safely make repairs without water gushing out.

Assessing the Damage

With the water supply off, take a good look at the leaky hose bib and determine the cause:

Worn Out Washers

The rubber washer inside the hose bib valve assembly often wears out over time, causing drips and leaks around the spigot. Replacing this inexpensive washer is the most common hose bib fix.

Broken/Cracked Pipe

The pipe connecting to the hose bib may be cracked or split, requiring a pipe replacement. Check for corrosion and damage marks. Pipes with severe leakage will show mineral deposits.

Broken Stem/Handle

Interior components like the stem or handle lever may be broken, meaning the entire hose bib valve needs replacing. Look for missing or damaged parts.

Stripped Threads

The hose connection threads on the spigot may be stripped or corroded. Try tightening the connection with pliers. If it still leaks, replacement is needed.

Gathering the Right Replacement Parts

Before starting hose bib repairs, a trip to the hardware store is in order. Bring along the make and model if replacing the entire valve. Common replacement parts include:

  • Hose bib valve kit with washers
  • Pipe fitting/union connectors
  • New hose bib of the same style
  • Pipe sealant like Teflon tape

Take pictures of the damaged area to match the correct repair parts. Having the right supplies on hand means repairs can be completed in one go.

Replacing a Leaky Washer

If the hose bib leak is coming from the spigot connection, replacing the worn out washer is often the quick solution:

Step 1: Shut Off Water Supply

Make sure the shutoff valve leading to the hose bib is fully closed.

Step 2: Release Water Pressure

Briefly turn on the hose bib handle to release built-up water pressure. Disconnect any hoses.

Step 3: Disassemble the Hose Bib

Use a wrench or pliers to loosen and unthread the packing nut holding the valve assembly together. Carefully disassemble.

Step 4: Replace Washer

Locate the worn rubber washer inside the valve assembly. Replace it with a matching new washer.

Step 5: Reassemble Valve

Carefully put all the hose bib components back together in order. Tighten the packing nut with your wrench.

Step 6: Turn On Water Supply

Open the shutoff valve slowly while checking for leaks as pressure returns.

Be sure to give the new washer a few hours to properly seat and seal. Once any remaining drips stop, the hose bib is fixed! Adding pipe sealant ensures a watertight seal.

Fixing a Broken Hose Bib Pipe

For pipe damage like cracks and corrosion, the leaky segment of pipe needs to be replaced:

Step 1: Drain Pipes

After shutting off the water supply, open hose bib to drain all water from the pipes.

Step 2: Remove Broken Pipe

Use a pipe wrench to detach the damaged pipe from the elbow joint. Saw off the broken section if needed.

Step 3: Install New Pipe

Cut replacement pipe to the correct length. Apply pipe sealant to threads. Connect new pipe at the elbow.

Step 4: Seal Threads/Joints

Wrap all threads and joints with Teflon plumber’s tape to prevent leaks. Connect to hose bib.

Step 5: Check for Leaks

Slowly turn water supply back on while inspecting for leak points around joints. Make any needed adjustments.

Replacing short sections of damaged pipe restores water flow and stops leaks at the source. Make sure pipe and connectors match the existing size and material.

Replacing a Broken Hose Bib Valve

For a hose bib with interior broken components or corrosion damage, replacing the entire spigot valve is the long-term solution:

Step 1: Turn Off Indoor Shutoff

Locate the indoor water shutoff valve for the hose bib and turn it off.

Step 2: Cut Water Lines

Use a pipe cutter to disconnect the broken hose bib from the copper inlet and outlet pipes.

Step 3: Remove Old Hose Bib

Unthread the hose bib valve from the exterior wall opening using adjustable pliers or a wrench.

Step 4: Install New Valve

Thread in the replacement valve. Make sure the inlet and outlet pipes align correctly into the new hose bib openings before tightening.

Step 5: Solder Copper Joints

Using a propane torch, solder the copper inlet and outlet pipes onto the matching valve connections.

Step 6: Test for Leaks

Restore water flow through indoor shutoff valve. Check for drips and leaks where pipes meet the new hose bib.

Swapping out a totally broken hose bib for a new one is more complex but provides a superior, drip-free repair. Take care not to scorch siding when soldering pipes.

Troubleshooting Tricky Leak Repairs

Not all leaky hose bib fixes go smoothly. Here are some tips for overcoming tricky repairs:

Can’t Isolate Leak Source

If you can’t pinpoint where exactly the drip is coming from, replace all washers and pipe connections one area at a time until leak stops.

Can’t Unthread Parts

Penetrating oil, pipe wrench leverage, and heat from a plumber’s torch help loosen stubborn, seized threads and fittings. Avoid breaking.

Valve Won’t Seal When Reassembled

Make sure new washers are the correct size and properly seated. Check for cracked valve bodies. Replace valve if needed.

Leak Returns After Repairs

Repeat repairs, checking for debris in pipes and proper sealant use. Persistent leaks likely mean replacement parts have failed or a full valve replacement is required.

Working slowly and systematically helps overcome difficult hose bib repairs. Seek assistance if needed for complicated plumbing jobs.

Preventing Future Leaks

To get the longest service life from repairs and avoid repeat leaky hose bib issues, keep these maintenance tips in mind:

Inspect Annually

Check hose connections and valves each season for wear, mineral buildup, and corrosion. Catch problems early.

Lubricate O-Rings

Use silicone grease inside valve assemblies to keep o-rings pliable and prevent drying and cracking.

Loosen/Tighten Handle

Periodically loosen and retighten the handle to avoid mineral deposits fusing it permanently on.

Shut Off Indoors When Not In Use

Always shut off the interior water supply to outdoor hose bibs during freezing weather or prolonged disuse.

Upgrade with Frost-Free Models

Installing frost-free, freezeless hose bib valves avoids damage from frozen, burst water lines.

With attentive care and maintenance, hose bib valves can provide decades of drip-free performance. But age and outdoor exposure make leaks inevitable eventually. Knowing how to properly fix a leaky hose bib keeps your plumbing and water supply flowing smoothly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Fixing Leaky Hose Bibs

How do I know if I need a new washer or a whole new valve?

If the leak is coming from the spigot connections, try replacing just the washer first. If interior valve parts are damaged or the entire unit is heavily corroded, replacing the full valve is the better repair option.

What size washer do I need?

Bring the old washer to the hardware store to match the same size and shape. Standard sizes are 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch, but taking the original washer ensures an exact replacement.

Should I use Teflon tape or pipe sealant?

For threaded connections, wrap Teflon tape around male threads before assembly to prevent leaks. Use pipe sealant on compression fittings and valves. Don’t double up as sealants don’t pair well.

How do I remove a stuck hose bib valve?

Penetrating oil around the threads will help loosen a fixed spigot. Use pipe wrenches and pliers to slowly unthread. Heat from a small torch expands metal to make unscrewing easier. Avoid snapping off in wall.

Why does my new hose bib still leak?

Make sure replacement washers and valve seats properly. Debris caught in valves can prevent full closure. Flush pipes before installing new parts. Leaks often mean valves must be resealed or replaced again.

Can I solder copper pipes myself?

Soldering torches reach extremely high temperatures, making DIY pipe soldering dangerous. Consider hiring a plumber unless you have training and proper safety gear. Failing joints can cause severe water damage.

How do I winterize an outdoor hose bib?

Simply shut off the indoor water supply and open the hose bib to drain remaining water before temperatures drop below freezing. Remove hoses and install insulating covers. Frost-free faucets self-drain to prevent freezing.


Fixing a leaky hose bib is a common DIY plumbing project that anyone can tackle with some simple tools and replacement parts. Identifying the leak source and actual repair needed takes attentive inspection, but replacing worn washers, connecting pipes, or full valves is straightforward. Following proper repair steps for isolating water supply, disassembling valves, replacing parts, and resealing pipes results in successful, drip-free repairs. Combine repairs with preventative maintenance to stop annoying leaks from returning and keep your hose bibs flowing properly for years to come. With vigilance and the right DIY approach, a bothersome leaky spigot can be transformed into a high-functioning asset around your home.