San Francisco Plumbing - How To Fix a Leaky Hose Bib - Page 1

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How To Fix a Leaky
Hose Bib Without
Burning Up Your
Water Heater

Contractor Mike
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How To Fix a Leaky Hose Bib

Plumbing HelpHow To Fix a Leaky Hose Bib Without Burning Up Your Water Heater

By Contractor Mike

Oct 20, 2009

The lesson today is, never work on the plumbing pipes without first shutting off the inlet valve to the water heater.

You will remember from our last installment there’s nothing like the surge of absolute power one gets after fixing a stuck garbage disposal with a broom handle, and not miss the last two minutes of that life-or-death football game you were watching.

You step outside one morning to fetch the newspaper at the foot of your sloping driveway. As you approach, you do a double take at a dripping hose bib. Somebody decided to put the hose bib close to the street so he wouldn’t have to drag a long hose down there if and when he needed water. But now it’s leaking. So, based upon your previous success with that mayonnaise oar, you want to fix it!

Like with the wall switch to the garbage disposal, first things first. There’s a gate valve near your pressure regulator that shuts off all water to the house and garden. Shut it off.

Go and find your keys (explained later) and two pipe wrenches – a big one and a bigger one. If you don’t have them, you should, because torque is now your best friend. You will also need a roll of Teflon plumber’s tape and a combo slot/Phillips head screwdriver.

Okay, holding one wrench on either the male nipple or female fitting connected to the hose bib, put clockwise pressure on it … we don’t have to go through that again, do we? Good. The hose bib threads are probably rusted, so put some more pressure on it, and … oh crap! The bib and nipple leading into it twisted and broke off.

This is why you have two pipe wrenches!

Let’s back up again. Using the smaller pipe wrench, put clockwise pressure on the closest plumbing part to the hose bib, and at the same time turn the hose bib counterclockwise with the other wrench. The more pressure you exert on the big wrench needs to be compensated by the same pressure on the smaller one, but in the opposite direction.

It breaks free and starts to rotate, and you haven’t damaged anything else, so you’re in good shape … so far. Don’t worry about all the water running out the end of the pipe ‘cause you’re downgrade and it takes a while to empty, right?

Continue to page 2


Contractor Mike was a General Building Contractor for nearly twenty years in Los Angeles and is now a produced playwright. 


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