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Fixing Faucet Seats

Have you ever replaced faucet washers only to have the faucet begin leaking again very soon? Don't dispair, you just haven't finished the job of fixing that faucet. The faucet is telling you the seats are worn out and need replacing. So turn off the water supply and open the faucet up again.

Faucet seatAfter you remove the faucet stem, shine a flashlight into the body of the faucet; you'll usually see either a square hole or a hex-shaped hole at the bottom. The metal you see surrounding the hole is the seat. It's really a threaded brass insert with a hole in the middle of it; there's one on both the hot and the cold sides. If the hole is round this faucet seat can't be replaced and you'll have to replace the faucet.

You remove a worn seat that has a six-sided hole in it with a hex wrench combined with an adjustable wrench often called a Crescent wrench. Hex wrenches are also called Allen wrenches. Hex wrenches come in graduated sizes, and you'll find the 3/8-inch and the 5/16-inch hex wrenches fit most of the hex-shaped seats. Hex Wrench

After inserting the appropriate size hex wrench into the seat, lock the adjustable wrench onto the flat sides of the hex wrench and turn counter clockwise to unscrew the seat. This combination of tools will get the most stubborn seat out.

Seat remover toolSome seats have square holes and for this type you'll need a plumbing tool called a "seat-remover." Even though this is a size fits all... type of tool that has a square end and a hex-shaped end, it often won't work for a tub and shower valve. But it's an invaluable tool for reinserting new seats. Screw extractors allow you to back out damaged faucet seats.

Brass is a relatively soft metal and easily damaged; you want any tool you use to fit snug so it doesn't ream out the inside of the hole. When a seat is damaged and the above tools won't work, you'll need a large screw extractor; they come in sets of five or six. Screw extractors allow you to back out damaged faucet seats. These simple and effective devices can be found at large national retail stores that have a hardware department. The extractors have special hardened steel heads with reverse cutting bits. Anodized Aluminum Faucet Seat & Bibb Screw Gauge

Once out, take the old seats to your hardware store for replacements. There they have a special gauge with threaded holes into which they will insert your old seat to determine the size. There are dozens of different size and shapes of seats. And don't throw the old ones out until you are certain the new ones fit. You'll also need another set of washers for the ends of the stems.

Don't forget metal to metal threaded plumbing fittings must be waterproofed. Wrap the threads of a new seat with teflon sealing tape then put it on the end of the seat-remover tool and screw it back into the faucet.

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