Bathroom Faucet Turns On By Itself? Here Are 6 Reasons Why

If your bathroom faucet turns on by itself then it’s very important to solve the issue as soon as possible. If you delay the task, the other parts of the faucet will also be affected.

So what should you do if your bathroom faucet turns on by itself?

If your bathroom faucet turns on by itself, the reason could be a damaged cartridge, faucet handle, loose packing nuts, worn-out rubber washer, corroded valve seat, or tight packing.

In this article, you’ll learn why your bathroom faucet turns on by itself and how you can fix it.

Reasons Why Your Bathroom Faucet Turns On By Itself

Here are the reasons why your bathroom faucet turns on by itself:

1. Check Your Faucet Handle: (3 Things To Check)

Reposition Your Faucet Handle

Throughout the day you turn your bathroom faucet handle on and off many times. And sometimes the handle doesn’t settle into its normal closing position, due to which the water keeps running.

To fix the problem all you’ve to do is close the faucet tightly. While closing the faucet, try to turn it a little bit more, you may be able to turn the handle slightly more than the closing position.

So, whenever you turn off the faucet make sure to check if the handle is in a fully closed position or not.

Loose Faucet Handle

After turning off the faucet, if the handle turns on by itself that means you have a loose faucet handle. A set screw is responsible for a loose faucet handle.

The function of the set screw is to hold the faucet handle in place. And, when the screw becomes loose, your faucet handle also becomes loose.

So, the solution is very simple. Just tighten the set screw to fix the problem.

To tighten the set screw follow these steps:

First, make sure to turn off the water supply valve so that flooding does not occur in the bathroom. Then, cover the sink drain with a stopper or towel so that you don’t lose any parts in the drain.

Now, you have to find a set screw that is located either on the top or at the side of the faucet handle.

If you’re not able to find the set screw then it could be hidden inside the decorative cap. To remove the decorative cap you can use a flathead screwdriver (or a knife).

After removing the cap you’ll be able to see the set screw inside it. There will be either a Hex head set screw or a Philips head set screw depending upon the faucet you have.

If you have a Hex head set screw, use a hex head wrench (Allen key) to tighten it by turning it in a clockwise direction.

Make sure you don’t tighten it too much or else the faucet handle will become hard to turn. And if there is a Philip head set screw, use a Philip head Screwdriver to tighten it.

At last turn on the water supply and check if the faucet handle is now tight or not.

Stripped Faucet Handle

In some cases, tightening the set screw and closing the handle tightly may not solve the problem. This means your faucet handle is damaged, and that’s why it is not working properly.

Inside a faucet handle, there is a thread that is connected to the faucet stem. It helps to turn the faucet on and off.  When the faucet gets old, the thread becomes corroded.

Due to this, the handle is not able to fully close the water supply and as a result, water keeps coming out of the faucet.

The solution is to simply replace the faucet handle.

If you have a double-handle faucet then you have to first confirm which handle has been damaged. Simply, put your hand under the faucet and feel the water.

If it is hot then change the hot water faucet handle and if it is cold then change the cold water faucet handle.

2. Worn Out Rubber Washer

Normally there are four types of faucets: Cartridge faucet, ball faucet, ceramic disk faucet, and compression faucet. Among these faucets, only the compression faucet has a rubber washer in it.

The function of a washer is to compress over the opening to stop the flow of water. After years of use, the size of the washer reduces.

So, when the washer wears out, it is not able to cover the entire opening. As a result, the water keeps running even when the faucet is turned off.

To fix the issue, you will have to replace the old washer with a new one.

Other faucets such as disc, ball, and cartridge-style faucets don’t have any washer. They use plastic and metal components to stop the water.

These faucets can also wear down due to the accumulation of mineral deposits on them. As a result, the effectiveness of parts will be reduced causing the water to drip.

In this case, replace the old components with the new ones.

3. Loose Packing Nuts

If your faucet has two handles, you will see a packing nut that holds the stem in place.

The function of this nut is to prevent the water from running whenever the faucet is turned on. The packing nut is located under the faucet’s handle.

With time, these nuts become loose and the problem usually occurs in old faucets. So if your faucet has loosened packing nuts, the water pressure will automatically turn on the faucet handle.

As a result, water starts running and an enormous amount of water gets wasted.

To fix the problem all you’ve to do is remove the handle and tighten the packing nut with the help of a wrench.

4. Corroded Valve Seat

A valve seat is located at the bottom of the faucet mechanism. The valve seat works as a seal for the faucet stem. With time, this component becomes corroded or wears out.

And, once the corrosion takes place, mineral sediment gathers around the valve seat and eats away the component.

As a result, the valve seat becomes ineffective and water starts to drip from the faucet even when the handle is turned off. So, replacing the valve seat is the only option to fix the issue.

However, all the valve seats are not removable that’s why you have to first check whether the seat in your faucet is removable or not.

Disassemble the faucet and look inside the valve housing with a flashlight. If the shape of the hole in the bottom of the seat is square or hexagonal, you can remove the seat.

To remove the seat you will need a seat wrench. But if the valve seat is too corroded then you might require a round grinding disk with a T-handle.

5. Damaged Cartridge

Generally, most bathrooms have cartridge faucets. The cartridge is a plastic component located inside the faucet and its main function is to control the flow of water.

With regular use, the cartridge gets damaged, and as a result the faucet malfunctions. So, you have to replace the old cartridge with a new one to solve the problem.

You can buy it from a hardware store or order online from Home Depot. If you are going to buy it from a hardware store then make sure to take the old cartridge with you so you can get the exact model.

Because there are various faucet brands and different faucets have different cartridge models.

If your faucet has two handles – one for cold water and another for hot water, you will see a valve stem instead of a cartridge.

In that case, you will have to replace the valve stem with the new one.

How to Replace a Cartridge in a Faucet?

1.) Start by turning off the water supply valves under the sink. If there is no supply valve under your sink then turn off the main water supply valve of the house.

2.) Then, turn on the faucet handle to release the excess water present inside the pipes.

3.) After that, cover the sink drain with a towel or stopper to prevent small parts from falling down the drain.

4.) Now, disassemble the faucet handle. To disassemble the handle, you have to remove the set screw. The set screw is located at the top or at the side of the faucet handle.

5.) If you can’t see the set screw at the top or at the side of the handle then it could be hidden behind the decorative cap. Simply remove the decorative cap to access the set screw.

Remove the cap with the help of a flathead screwdriver or a knife. Then, remove the set screw with the help of an Allen wrench.

6.) Now, you will be able to see the cartridge. Pull out the cartridge with your hand and if you’re not able to remove it with your hand then use adjustable pliers or cartridge puller.

7.) Although some faucets have a retaining nut that holds the cartridge in place. So, if there is a retaining nut in your faucet, you will have to remove it first then only you will be able to remove the cartridge.

6. Tight Packing 

The packing nut is a seal. To check if the packing nut is tight or not, see if turning on the water is easy or if you have to make an effort.

Most importantly, is turning on the faucet handle easier than turning it off?

If yes, then your packing nut is tight and this could be the reason why your faucet turns on by itself. Although, this is a rare case still there is a possibility.

When the nut is tight, it naturally pushes the handle and as a result, the faucet automatically turns on. However, you won’t see this issue with a new handle but over time it can happen.

To fix the issue, simply disassemble the faucet and loosen up the packing nut a little bit.

If Nothing Happens, Call A Plumber

In this article, we have explained all the reasons why your bathroom faucet turns on by itself. But the answer is never clear, it could be any of the reasons we have mentioned above.

That’s why you have to try one idea after another to find the defect inside the faucet.

After going through all the steps if you are not able to understand why your faucet is turning on by itself, then call a plumber.