How to fix a leaking outside water spigot with water pump pliers.

Getting a professional plumber to fix your leaking outside water spigot or faucet can cost anywhere between $100 and $1500. In this article, I show you how to fix it with just a pair of water pump pliers and a few plumbing supplies to help you cut on the plumbing cost.

You can use water pump pliers or adjustable pliers to fix many plumbing problems at home. In this article, I show you how to use the pliers to fix a leaking outside water spigot or faucet.

An outdoor water spigot or outdoor faucet is a water outlet or tap that is not inside the house. You can also call it a garden faucet if it is in the garden.

Over time, parts of these plumbing fixtures wear out and begin to leak. Sometimes, it is just poor installations that cause them to leak. The leakage results in water wastage and of course high water bills.

Instead of calling a plumber to fix a leaky outdoor faucet for you, you can it yourself with just a pair of adjustable pliers and some inexpensive outdoor faucet parts. But before you try to fix it, diagnose the problem first.

Signs of a leaking outdoor water faucet

If you suspect that your outdoor water spigot is leaking, you should see or experience any of these signs.

  • Leakage from the top or faucet stem
  • Leakage through the faucet or spigot tap
  • The handle squeaks when you open or close the faucet
  • A pool of surface water under the outdoor spigot

If the outside water faucet leaks from the top or around the handle, it could mean two things. Either the packing nut is loose or its gasket or o-ring is worn out. This is how to fix it.

How to fix an outdoor faucet that leaks from the top

Tools and supplies

  • Water pump pliers or plumbing pliers
  • Phillips head screwdriver (multiple head screwdriver is best)
  • Teflon tape or new packing nut washer


Step 1: Tighten the packing nut.

Use the water pump pliers to tighten the packing nut and observe if water continues to leak. The packing nut is the nut just below the handle. It holds the faucet stem assembly onto the fixture.

When the nut comes loose, the rubber packing nut washer doesn’t seal properly and water tends to leak from the valve through the stem. Therefore, this type of leakage only happens when the valve or tap is open.

To tighten it, simply open the jaws of the adjustable pliers, slide them over the nut, to grip it. Then twist the nut clockwise until it is snug. A quarter turn or half turn may be enough.

Tightening the bonnet nut may help repair the leaky outdoor faucet stem permanently. But if it does not or the problem recurs after some time, it means the packing washer or o-ring does not seal properly and you should replace it

Step 2: Remove and replace the packing nut washer

As I have hinted, a packing nut washer that does not seal properly will still leak even if you tighten the bonnet nut. So, the solution is to replace it. You can use a new washer or make a DIY bonnet packing with Teflon industrial sealant tape. This is how to do it.

How to fix a leaking packing nut washer
  1. Close the valve all the way down
  2. Remove the handle by unscrewing the screw fastener using a Phillips head screwdriver.
  3. Uninstall the bonnet nut by twisting it counterclockwise with the water pump pliers
  4. Remove the worn bonnet packing and replace it with new. If you don’t have a replacement washer, make one with Teflon tape. Just cut enough length of Teflon tape (like 2 feet long), fold it in half, and twist it. Then wrap the twisted tape around the stem where the washer sits and reinstall the packing nut. Snug it with plumbing pliers and avoid overtightening.

Now the leak should be fixed and you should not see any more drips coming from the top or faucet stem.

How to fix an outdoor faucet the leaks through the spout

If the outdoor water spigot won’t turn off, that is a clear sign that the washer at the base of the stem is not sealing properly. To fix it, you need to replace the washer. This is how to do it:

Tools and supplies needed

  • Water pump pliers
  • Multi-head screwdriver
  • Replacement stem washer


  1. Turn off the main water supply.
  2. Open the faucet tap and let the trapped water to flow out
  3. Turn the handle all the way up.
  4. Untighten the packing nut using the adjustable pliers.
  5. Back out the faucet stem assembly by hand.
  6. Remove the screw at the bottom of the stem using the Phillips screwdriver. The screw should come off with the washer.
  7. Replace the washer and reinstall the screw.
  8. Put back the spigot stem assembly into the fixture and turn it clockwise.
  9. Tighten the bonnet nut until it is nice and snug

The problem of your outdoor faucet not turning off should be fixed now. If the problem persists, don’t hesitate to call a pro. But at least now you what causes an outdoor faucet to leak and how to fix it with water pump pliers and a few plumbing supplies.

In conclusion, a leaking outdoor spigot can go unnoticed for a long time and can cause a lot of water to go to waste and your bill to go high. So, it is good to inspect all your outdoor water faucets regularly to fix any leakage.

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Julio a.k.a Pliersman is the owner and creator of the Pliersman Website. A blog that informs and educates you about different types of pliers and their uses. Julio is a handy person and has used a variety of pliers including general-purpose and specialty pliers to accomplish tasks. He holds an electrical engineering degree and has previously worked as an O&M manager for minigrids where his love story with pliers and other tools began.