Ball Socket Faucet Repair

In my seven years as a plumber I have found that the ball socket design is most common. That is my focus design for this article. Mainly you will find this design in kitchens. I coudl have been very technical but I tried to keep it simple. I used layman terms to describe so anyone can try. I hate sites that talk in a manner that makes on leave scratching their head. Face facts – you can probably do this, but if you really feel you can’t, call Touchstone Plumbers in London.

Discover the Problem

So you have a leaky kitchen tap. It may drip or it way leak around the base when turned on. Most faucets in kitchens are what maintenance men and women call a ball faucet. It is one of the simplest things to repair and you do not need to call a plumber costing you high bills. Anyone can do it. It does not require an engineering degree. It is just a matter of having a few simple tools and an inexpensive repair kit found at your local hardware store. I knew very little maintenance seven years ago. What I found out is that most repairs are common sense. Through trial and error and advice from coworkers I found out that most repairs such as this one are very easy.

Design of a Ball Socket Faucet

Let’s talk about the design of a ball socket, It is a very simple one. You have a handle. It usually has an Allen head fitting or for the laymen hex head. Similar shape might be a stop sign type pattern. The cap this just screws on and off. Clockwise puts it on and counter clockwise takes it off. Next is a white plastic insert with rubber seal. This piece just sits in there lined up with a notch on side and lifts out. Now you will see why we call it a ball socket. A ball with a stem is the main part that moves up down and side to side. This is the part that controls the hot or cold and on and off. It has a bell like pattern on bottom. The ball controls the flow and gives you hot cold or mix. Last we find down in the assembly the two most important objects in the design. These are the seats and springs. They are down in two small holes easily retrieved with needle nose. They are just cone shape springs with rubber seals on them. Seats and springs are the main cause of all leaky faucets and are the parts you need to change. So let’s get started.

Items You Will Need

You will need a tap repair kit. At the hardware store it is either called a socket kit or most brands fall in the Delta design. A set of Allen wrenches or hex head are needed for the faucet handle. Some screwdrivers and drill or socket sets have these bits in them as well. A good pair of channel locks. Channels are big wrenches with a slide adjust which makes it wider. Get a good size pair to fit around cap it will be screwed down tightly. Last you will need simple needle nose pliers. That’s all.

Channel Lock Pliers
Set of Allen Wrenches or Hex Head
Needle Nose Pliers


Start by shutting of the water. Under your sink you will find water cut offs just turn the handle so the stem goes in or down. Open your faucet to release any residual pressure. In the open position you will see the hex head turn it counter clockwise until the handle lifts off easily. Do not take set screws all the way out. Just loosen the screw. Once the handle is off put channels on cap and turn counter to loosen. You should get to a point you can just hand turn it off. The plastic insert and seal lift out. The ball does as well. Last use your needle nose and pull out the seats and springs. Two springs in most cases cone springs with two black rubber covers. You now have it fully disassembled. Bravo.

Replacing Seats and Springs

It is time start on the repair. Look in the repair kit for seats and springs to match yours. Universal kits have a couple different designs. Most cases use the cone shaped. Put the rubber seals on small end. Now put them in holes. You can try using needle nose. I just push them in with fingers. Remember how they came out is how they go in. Springs are completely covered in hole and you only see top of black seat. The edges of seat need to be all tucked in hole. Once done you put in the ball assembly. There is a notch sticking out inside that will fit in groove on ball. Put on plastic and seal top. Again a notch on top lines this up. Push down firmly. It might stick up some do to better seats and springs. Just try to get notch in place so when you screw on cap it does not rotate. Put on cap and give it a good turn with channels to make it snug. Then put handle back on with hex. Then turn on your water under sink. Good job you are done.

Alternate Water Shut Offs

Foot note for people without water shut offs under sink. If you do not have shut off under the sink look at your water heater. There is a shut off on lines above water heater. You should find two bars that pull one way to shut off and another turns the lines on. One step further if you do not even have two cut offs on water. Heater you will need to look for what is called the water manifold. You must use this because the water heater method must have a shut off on the cold and hot lines to be effective. If you have manifold most cases they are found near water heater behind a panel with screws in wall. In the manifold there will be red and blue lines representing hot and cold that come into a box. On each line you will find a diamond shapes turn. Usually the handle for turning will be found in the manifold. Turn the diamond vertical for off. If you turn it horizontal it will be on. If you own a trailer or double wide you should look outside underneath. Here you will see a large metal ring like a fire ring but deeper. New trailers will have a shut off on top. If not reach down the ring and you will find the shut off. Last there is the crawlspace shut off. This is usually located where line enters home. Of course some home have a shut off in yard close to street under a metal plate. Mine does and I have used it to shut all water down working in my crawlspace.

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