Fixing a leaking hose bib can be frustrating. There are so many parts that can spring a leak! The good news: we’ll teach you the various parts of a hose bib that can have issues — and how to fix each of them. In this blog post (and in the video below) we’ll look specifically how to fix a Woodford Model 19. However, a lot of these same steps can be applied to repairing any frost-free hose bib.
How a frost-free hose bib works
Before learning how to fix a Woodford Model 19, it will help to know how this model (and, generally, any frost-free hose bib) works. The valve and faucet seat is located on back end of the pipe. When you shut off the hose bib, the water is stopped at the valve. The vacuum breaker is located closer to the front, and allows the remaining water to drain out. This is why frost-free hose bibs are installed at slight downward angle: when the water is shut off, it can flow down to the vacuum breaker and prevent freezing in the winter.
A hose bib can leak from a few different areas. It can leak from the nozzle, the vacuum breaker, or the valve stem. We’ll take a look at how to repair all three.
Tools you’ll need
- Channel locks
- Flat screwdriver
- Phillips screwdriver
- Small flat screwdriver (optional)
- Repair kit specific to your hose bib’s model
How to repair the nozzle
If water is leaking from the nozzle, here’s how to fix it:
- Shut off your water.
- Remove the handle. The Woodford 19 takes a flat screwdriver, so unscrew it by going counter-clockwise.
- Take a pair of pliers and remove the packing nut and washer. Remove the valve by re-inserting the handle and unscrewing it, then pull out the rod assembly.
- Remove the valve stem. There will be some resistance here because of this rubber check valve.
- Remove the retainer screw. In the Woodford Model 19, you will need a Phillips screwdriver. With older hose bibs, be careful to remove this correctly: it’s going to be bound up by years of water exposure. So make sure you get the right size screwdriver, or else you may strip the screw. If you strip the screw, you’re going to have to replace the whole thing!
- Remove and replace the valve seat rubber. You can pop it out with a little screwdriver, but this step can be tricky. Sometimes the valve will stick. So work carefully with the screwdriver around the edges of the valve seat rubber until you can see a gap. Keep working it until it loosens and finally separates.Then take the model-specific repair kit (that you can purchase from a home improvement store) and install the new rubber check valve.
- Reassemble. First, reinstall the valve seat back to the end. Remember: the flat side goes against the base. Re-tighten the screw. Then re-insert the rod assembly back into the hose bib, sliding it all the way back. Use the handle to tighten the valve, by inserting it and turning it clockwise. Next, reinstall the packing washer with the flat side facing you, followed by the black rubber packing. Thread the packing nut back on, with threads going in. Lightly tighten with a wrench. Finally, reinstall the handle and secure it by tightening the screw.
Whew. You’re done. Now turn your water back on and test for leaks. Want to really test it? Attach a hose with a sprayer on the end, so you can apply high-pressure water. If no water is leaking at this point, then you’ve successfully fixed the leak!
How to repair the vacuum breaker
If water is leaking from the vacuum breaker, here’s how to fix it:
- Shut off your water.
- Remove the plastic cover. With some older models, the plastic cover to the vacuum breaker will unthread. In the Woodford Model 19, you will have to pop it off. A flat screwdriver will do the trick.
- Unscrew the plastic body. Be careful with this: it’s plastic, so it can break.
- Replace the float. Remove the old float and install a new float from your repair kit. Sometimes it’s easier to put the plastic float in the body first, before you screw it back in. Remember: the gasket faces up, not down.
- Reassemble. Screw the plastic body (which now has the new float) back into the hose bib. Don’t over-tighten! Finally, pop the plastic cover back on.
You’re done! Again, make sure you’ve done the trick by testing for leaks.
How to repair the valve stem
If water is leaking from the valve stem, here’s how to fix it:
- Shut off your water.
- Try the packing nut first! The first thing you should try, before you do anything else, is to tighten the packing nut. Sometimes tightening a loose packing nut will fix a leak right away. If it’s still leaking, you’ll need to pull the hose bib apart to replace the packing washer.
- Remove the handle.
- Using pliers, remove the packing nut by twisting counter-clockwise. Note: some of the older models have reverse threads; the Woodford Model 19 has standard threads.
- Just like in the step to fix the nozzle, put the handle back on to loosen the valve stem. This will help you pop out the packing washer.
- If it’s leaking from the valve stem, the packing washer is the likely culprit. Now’s the time to replace it! Remove the black rubber packing and install your new washer from the repair kit.
- Reassemble. After pushing the washer into place, put the handle back on and twist to retighten in the valve. Next, reinstall the packing nut, tightening lightly with a wrench. Finally, reinstall the handle and tighten the screw.
You’re done! Once again, test for leaks.
Still leaking? Try these options.
At this point, you’ve hopefully figured out how to fix a Woodford Model 19, or a similar hose bib. But if you’ve followed our directions and the hose bib is still leaking, we have a couple more suggestions.
First, there might still be a problem with the valve seat. Check out our other blog post on how to create a custom tool for under $10 to repair the seat. Finally, if you don’t want to fuss with a repair kit, you can buy an identical hose bib model and use it for parts. Simply pull out the new assembly rod and replace the old one. This last option is more expensive, but it will save time.
If you need further help, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Good luck with your hose bib repair!