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Making a No-Fuss Fix for a Drip-Free Faucet : The single-handle rolling ball type is a snap for homeowners to repair.

June 18, 1989|DAVID M. KINCHEN | Times Staff Writer

Homeowners who have repaired leaking stem-type faucets--the kind that have washers--will find the single-handle rolling ball faucet easier to repair.

Don't be intimidated by the sleek look of your Delta or other brand faucet: Once you've taken it apart, it's simply a matter of replacing the worn parts with new ones from a kit. There are no seats to resurface or replace, as in a stem-type setup.

It's important to keep the old parts in a plastic bag or other container. The kits have parts for various models, so there will be extra pieces in each kit. Just use the ones you need, referring to the old parts in that separate container.

Faucet repair kits are available in hardware stores and home centers. It's probably best to take along the old parts, unless you know for certain what model faucet you have.

Follow these steps for a painless, leak-less repair job:

--Shut off the water supply lines, both hot and cold. You'll find the shut-off valves under the sink.

--With the proper size Allen (hex key) wrench, loosen the setscrew that holds the lever handle in place. Remove the handle by lifting it straight up. You'll always have an Allen wrench handy if you buy a convenient tool that has several sizes of wrenches hinged to fold like a pocket knife.

--Unscrew the knurled cap and remove it. This cap shouldn't be too tight and should never be reassembled with a wrench: Finger pressure is enough. If it is necessary to use pliers to remove the cap, wrap the jaws of the tool with electrical tape to prevent marring the cap.

--Pull up on the ball stem to remove the cam (a circular plastic ring with a rounded triangular hole in the center), the cam seal and the ball assembly.

--Lift the rubber inlet seals and springs out of the faucet.

--If there are water leaks around the rotating spout, lift off the spout by jiggling it back and forth, at the same time lifting it. The leaks are caused by worn or broken O-rings, which are supplied in the repair kit. If the spout isn't leaking, you might want to leave it alone.

--Begin the repair, once you have the proper kit, by replacing the O-rings, if necessary, on the spout assembly and replacing the spout.

--Next, insert the springs, according to the directions supplied with the repair kit. Usually the large end goes into the hole if the springs are tapered.

--Install the rubber inlet seals over the springs. There's only one way to put them on.

--Reinstall the ball assembly, or a new one if you decided to buy a separate ball kit. It probably is a good idea to replace the ball when you replace the springs and seals. Make sure the rectangular groove in the ball mates with the alignment pin on the faucet body. Check to see that the ball moves freely in all directions.

--Replace the old cam assembly in place, making sure to install it so that a projection or lug in the cam mates with a notch in the faucet body.

--Screw down the knurled retaining cap and tighten the adjusting ring with the tool supplied in the repair kit. The tool has two prongs that mate with notches in the adjusting ring. Don't tighten the ring too much; the ball should move freely.

--Insert the lever handle over the ball assembly shaft and tighten the setscrew with the Allen wrench.

--Turn on both water lines and test for leaks. The repair should give you a drip-free faucet for two or more years.

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