Leaking faucets can be incredibly annoying, but they are easy to fix if you have the right skills to correct the problem. Knowing how to fix a leaking faucet is just a matter of knowing how the faucets work and what pieces to repair or replace. Most faucets work by pressing a stopper against a metal opening, whether the faucet is for hot or cold water. Leaks most often occur when the washers, seals, or O-ring which press against the opening wear out or become brittle. Luckily, replacing these items is very easy and well within the ability of most people.
If the faucet has two handles, one for hot and one for cold, the best way to determine which side is causing the leak is to look under the sink and locate the pipes leading to the faucet. There should be two lines, one for hot water and one for cold. Shut the water off to one side by turning one of these valves in a clockwise direction. Shutting off the water to one side will reveal whether the leak is coming from the hot or cold water side. If the leak stops when the cold water line is shut off, the problem is with the cold water side. If the drip continues when the cold water line is shut off, the problem is with the hot water side. Once it is determined which side is causing the problem, shut that water line off by turning the valve.
Remove the cap over the handle, usually a round plastic piece marked H or C, by gently prying it off with the edge of a flat head screwdriver. Underneath that cap will be a screw, which can be loosened by carefully turning counter-clockwise. When this is removed, the whole handle will lift off. Underneath the handle will be a cylindrical metal fixture which can be lifted out. Some models require the metal fixture to be unscrewed before it is removed. After it is lifted out there will be a rubber washer, seal, or O-ring on the bottom of it and this piece is usually the issue. Take the metal unit to the hardware store and purchase another washer, seal or O-ring of the same size. If desired, an extra one can be purchased to replace the one on the other faucet as well since the same factors may be causing wear to the other side, necessitating another repair in the near future. If the decision is made to change both sides, be sure that both valves under the sink are turned off.
While the metal fixture is out of the faucet, look to see if any mineral deposits have formed from its contact with the water. If it has, clean the area carefully using vinegar and a stiff bristled brush.
Install the washer, then replace the metal fixture into the faucet area, reattach the handle by replacing the screw and tightening clockwise, being careful not to over tighten, and slowly turn the water back on to check for the integrity of the unit. When reinstalling the metal fixture, a small amount of silicone based grease or petroleum jelly placed on any visible screw threads can cause smoother operation. If there are no problems, pop the plastic piece back on to cover the head of the screw.