Leaking hose bibb.
Leaking hose bibbs can waste a significant amount of water and can lead to significantly higher water bills when left unchecked. In addition, leakage at exterior fixtures have the added hazards of directing water towards a foundation, which can lead to moisture intrusion into the basement or crawlspace, as well as undermine the foundation. These leaks can also freeze at the fixture during the wintertime, causing additional damage and even a possible burst hose bibb or distribution pipe.
Depending on the size and speed of the leak, a leaking hose bibb can waste over 350 gallons of water a month. This paired with the potential structural and moisture intrusion problems, can make leaking hose bibbs a potentially expensive problem to ignore. Luckily, correcting leakage is often a simple fix depending on the source of the problem. Hose bibb leaks are often found at either the hose bibb handle or from the interior of the hose bibb itself. Since the source of most hose bibb leaks are due to either the packing string or the compression washer inside the bibb, replacing both of these items is usually best to ensure the leak has been corrected.
First, shut off the water to the hose bibb. Most hose bibbs have an interior shut off, often found in the garage, crawlspace or under a bathroom sink. If the bibb has no interior shut off, turning the water off at the main water shut off inside the home or at the water meter is another option. Next, use a screwdriver to remove the handle of the hose bibb from the valve stem. Using pliers or an adjustable wrench, unscrew the packing nut (or bonnet nut), which will allow you to remove the valve stem. Carefully unscrew the valve stem from the faucet body and set it aside with the handle, screw, and packing nut.
Since the washer at the end of the stem is often made of neoprene or rubber, replacing this washer will often fix the source of a hose bibb leak. While the hose bibb is already disassembled, replace the packing string can help to ensure that the source of the leak has been corrected. Unwrap the old packing string and wrap a new packing string or packing washer into this area. Lastly, reassemble the hose bibb by threading the stem valve back into the faucet body, threading the packing nut onto the top of the faucet, and reattaching the handle. After turning the water back on, test the faucet to ensure there is not leakage either at the handle or from inside the bibb.