Why Does My Kitchen Faucet Turn On By Itself? (Explained)

If your kitchen faucet is not working properly, it’s important to find the issue and solve it immediately.

It’s always better to not delay the task because the more you delay, the worse they will get.

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

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

In this article, we explained the reason why your kitchen faucet turns on by itself and also gave the solution.

Note – “Before following any of the below steps, make sure to turn off the water supply valves so that you won’t mess up the job”

Reasons Why Your Kitchen Faucet Turns On By Itself

Here are the reasons why your kitchen faucet turns on by itself.

Check the faucet handle: (3 things to check)

1. Reposition your faucet handle

In a day, you turn your kitchen faucet handle on and off many times. Sometimes the faucet handle doesn’t settle into its normal position and your faucet starts running water.

After turning off the faucet if the water continues to run, check if the faucet handle is in a fully closed position. Generally, homeowners forget to fully close the faucet handle.

Here you just need to reposition your kitchen faucet handle.

Once you make sure that the faucet is in a closed position, try to turn it a little bit more. You may be able to turn the handle more than the off position slightly, this is what you needed to stop the water supply.

2. Loose faucet handle

When you turn off the faucet handle and then the handle suddenly turns on by itself that means you have a loose faucet handle.

Basically, there is a set screw that holds the faucet handle in place, sometimes the screw becomes loose due to regular use of the faucet.

Now the solution is pretty much simple. Just tighten the set screw.

To tighten the set screw, first of all, you need to turn off the water supply valves to avoid flooding in the kitchen. Then cover the sink drain so that any small part doesn’t fall in the sink.

Now you will find a set screw on either top or side of the faucet handle. If you can’t find it, you need to remove the decorative cap on the faucet handle. The set screw is hidden behind the decorative cap.

Use a flathead screwdriver (or knife) to remove the cap. After removing the cap, look inside. You will see either a hex head set screw or a Philips head screw depending upon the faucet you have.

If you have a hex head set screw at the base of the handle, use a hex head wrench (Allen key) and push it into the screw and tighten it by turning in a clockwise direction.

But if you have a Philips head screw, use a Philips head screwdriver to tighten it. Make sure that you don’t tighten it too much because the faucet handle can become hard to turn.

After that turn on the water supply and check the faucet. If the faucet is functioning properly then your job is done.

3. Stripped Faucet Handle

However, in some cases, adjusting the faucet handle and tightening the set screw may not solve the problem. This means that your faucet handle is not working properly and is damaged.

In the handle, there is a thread that is connected to the faucet stem. It helps to turn the handle on and off.

As your faucet gets old, threads become corroded or stripped, which means the handle will not able to fully close the water supply.

The simple solution is to replace the faucet handle.

If you have a double-handle faucet and don’t know which handle has a problem then simply put your hand below the faucet and feel the water.

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

Worn Out Rubber Washer

Basically, there are four types of faucets in the market: compression faucets, cartridge faucets, ball faucets, and ceramic disk faucets.

In a compression faucet, the washer compresses over an opening to stop the water flow.

After years of use, the washer element can wear down and due to this, the washer size gets reduced and is not able to cover the entire opening.

As a result, the worn-out washer causes dripping and running of the faucet. Here you need to replace the washer with the new one.

On the other hand, faucets that don’t have washers such as disc, ball, and cartridge-style faucets, use plastic and metal component that can also wear down over time.

Mineral deposits can collect on these parts. Causing them to deteriorate and reduce the effectiveness of the seal. In this case, you should replace the faucet parts with new ones.

Loose Packing Nuts

If your faucet has two handles – one for hot and another for cold, you would see a packing nut that holds the stem in place.

The function of the packing nut is to prevent the water from running when the faucet is turned on. Over time, packing nuts can become loose – this problem usually occurs in very old faucets.

Due to loosened packing nuts, the water pressure can turn the handle on automatically. Once the water pressure passes through, your faucet will start running.

So it’s very important to fix the issue as soon as possible.

The solution is very simple, just tighten the packing nut with the help of a wrench. You will find the packing nut under the faucet handle. Therefore you need to remove the handle to tighten the packing nut.

Corroded Valve Seat

The valve seat is located at the bottom of the faucet mechanism. The function of the valve seat is to turn the water on and off. Over time, this component can become corroded or wear out.

Due to the build of corrosion, the valve seat will not work properly and the kitchen faucet will continue to drip even after the water is turned off.

Once corrosion takes place, the mineral sediment collects around the valve seats and eats away the component over time until it is ineffective.

If this is the case, then replacing the valve seat will usually solve the problem.

To replace the valve seats, you need the right tools. A seat wrench is recommended, but if the valve seats are too corroded then you might require a round grinding disk with a T-handle.

However, all the valve seats are not removable, so you need to disassemble the faucet.

To check if your faucet valve seats are removable or not: simply look inside the valve housing with a flashlight after you disassemble the faucet.

If the hole in the bottom of the seat is square or hexagonal, the seat is removable and you can further go ahead.

Damaged Cartridge

Generally, most kitchens have cartridge faucets. The cartridge is a plastic piece in the faucet that controls the flow of water. It is the internal part of the faucet that makes it function.

Due to regular use of the faucet, the cartridge can wear out or damaged over time, which makes the faucet malfunction.

To fix this problem, you need to replace the cartridge with the new one. You can buy the new cartridge from the hardware store or order online from home depot

Remember that, when you go to the hardware store for cartridge replacement, take the old cartridge with you so that you get the exact replacement.

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

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

In that case, you need to replace the valve stem with the new one. Before installing the new stem, check the condition of the seat washer which is installed in the bottom of the valve stem.

If seat washers are corroded or worn out then remove them and install new seat washers.

How to replace a cartridge in a kitchen faucet

  1. First of all, turn off the water supply valves under the sink. If you don’t have water supply valves under the sink then turn off the main water supply valve of the house.
  2. After that turn on the faucet handle to release the excess water.
  3. Once the excess water is removed, cover the sink drain. This is to keep small parts from falling down the drain.
  4. Remove the faucet handle. To remove the faucet handle, you have to remove the setscrew which is located at the top or side of the faucet handle.
  5. If you can’t see the setscrew that means it is hidden behind the decorative cap. So you have to remove the decorative cap to access the set screw.
  6. Use a flathead screwdriver or knife to remove the decorative cap. After that remove the set screw with the help of an Allen wrench
  7. Now you will see a cartridge inside the faucet. Pull the cartridge with your hand, if you are not able to pull it with your hand then use adjustable pliers or a cartridge puller to lift the cartridge.
  8. Although in some faucets there is a retaining nut that holds the cartridge in place. If you have a retaining nut, you’ll need to remove it. After removing the retaining nut, you can pull the cartridge out.

Tight Packing

The packing is basically a seal. if you don’t know whether your packing is tight or not then it is very simple to understand.

Is turning the water off easy or do you want to make an effort? Most importantly, is turning the handle on easier than turning it off?

If yes, then your packing nut is too tight and this leads your faucet to turn on by itself which is a rare case.

At this stage, it will naturally push the handle and your faucet will automatically turn on. You will not see this issue with a new handle but over time it can happen.

To fix this issue, you simply need to unmount the fixture and loosened up the packing nut a little bit.

If Nothing Happens, Call A Plumber

Above we had mentioned all the reasons so that you can solve the problem on your own. But the answer is never clear; it could be any of the reasons mentioned above.

In simple words, you have to try one idea after another to find the defect inside the faucet.

However, if nothing happens after going through all the steps and you couldn’t find the reason why your faucet turns on itself, then it’s better to call a plumber.