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How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

Does anyone else get irritated when the bathroom faucet drips constantly? It drives me completely nuts to see water just being wasted day in and day out. And apparently my youngest daughter feels the same way: she came to me the other day complaining about water coming from the faucet even though she hadn’t turned it on yet. At this point it was pretty clear that I needed to take care of this tiny issue 🙂

In this quick tutorial I’ll share how to replace the cartridge in a Moen bathroom faucet in less than 15 minutes. Faulty cartridges are one reason you get water leaking from bathroom faucets and they’re easy to replace. So let’s begin.


Lefty or Righty, That is the Question?

The first step in fixing any two handled faucet drip is to determine which handle has a bad seal. To test the left handle’s seal you’ll need to turn the water off to the right handle. Under your sink there should be two shutoff valves that connect the water lines to each respective faucet handle. The setup will look like the picture below.

Bathroom Faucet Shutoff Valves

Turn off the right handle’s shutoff valve by turning it to the right until it stops. Then turn on the right handle at the sink to release the remaining water that’s in it. Check the faucet to see if there are any leaks. Even if you do see leaks this indicates the left handle’s seals are bad.

You should also test to make sure the right handle is in good shape.

In order to do this you need to turn the right faucet handle’s shutoff valve back on. Make sure water is running to the right faucet  handle then turn it back off. Now turn off the left handle’s shutoff valve and release all the water out of it’s supply line by turning the handle to the on position. Does the faucet have any drips of water coming out of it? If the answer is no then your right handle has good seals.

In my case there were still leaks when the right handle’s shutoff valve water was turned off. This indicated a bad seal in the left faucet handle.

Let the Dismantling Begin

This is the fun part for me, taking apart the faucet. I always encourage you to take pictures of the process in case you need to refer back to how the setup use to be before it was fiddled with.

In the case of this Moen faucet I needed to unscrew the base of the faucet handle. If you have a similar handle you can accomplish this by hand most of the time. Turn the base to the left to unscrew it.

Unscrewing the Faucet Handle Base
Expose the brass nut to the faucet handle body

This will expose the brass nut that holds the cartridge in place. You’ll need to loosen the nut with a pair of channel locks. Turn the brass nut to the left to unscrew it.

Loosen the brass nut with channel locks

At this point my big tip is to take a picture of how the cartridge sits in the faucet handle body. There are usually small square tabs on the cartridge that secure it in place but you’ll also need to pay attention to the cartridge stem position.

Pay attention to the old faucet cartrdige position

Pull the cartridge straight up from the faucet body using the channel locks.

Remove the old faucet cartridge with channel locks

Take the cartridge with you to the hardware store or Home Depot or Lowes in order to find the correct replacement. I recommend buying the name brand replacement cartridge. Sure they’re a bit more expensive ($10-12) but at least you know they’ll work!!!

Take the old faucet cartridge to the store

It Doesn’t Get Any Easier

With your new faucet cartridge in hand all you need to do is refer back to the picture you took of the stem position.

Take a picture like this of the old faucet cartridge for reference

Take notice of the small square grooves in the faucet handle body as well.

There are typically small grooves in the faucet handle body

Now simply insert your new Moen replacement sink cartridge into the faucet.

Insert the new Moen faucet replacement cartridge

Refasten the brass nut that secures the cartridge  in place by hand tightening it then using channel locks.

Hand tighten the brass nut first then use channel locks

This nut doesn’t need to be super tight. Only secure the brass nut enough to keep water from leaking from underneath the new Moen replacement cartridge. A good way to check this is to turn on the shutoff valve to the faucet handle before attaching the faucet handle itself.

With the bathroom sink’s new Moen replacement cartridge in place you can now put on the faucet handle. Again, I hand tighten this type of handle only and don’t use channel locks.

Hand tighten the Moen faucet handle

The result of this repair is no more water dripping from the faucet, no more waste of a precious natural resource, and no more money being added to your water bill. It’s also easy and affordable to perform.  So why wait, fix your leaky faucet this week 🙂

What’s Next

Hopefully this tutorial helped.

The biggest tip to remember is take the old Moen faucet cartridge with you to the store to ensure you’re buying the correct replacement.

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.



Bathroom Faucet Repair