Water Shut Off But Still Running? Here’s How To Fix It (2023)

There is hardly anything more annoying than hearing the water dripping from the faucet once you’ve shut it off. Not only is it a nuisance, but it is also quite an issue when it comes to your water consumption and the monthly bill.

Why does this happen? Does the issue require the assistance of a plumber, or is it something you can take care of on your own? Today we will answer all of the burning questions regarding water leaking, plumbing issues, and any other potential problems.

If the faucet won’t stop running in your bathroom or kitchen, here’s what to do.

Why is water shut off but still running?

Table of Contents

  • Why is water shut off but still running?
    • How to examine your faucet
  • How to fix a faucet turned off but with water still running
    • How to fix a ball faucet
    • How to fix a disk faucet
    • How to fix cartridge faucet
    • How to fix a compression washer faucet
  • What to do when a faucet won’t stop running?

In case your water still runs after being shut off, there could be a couple of potential causes. Of course, in order to fix the problem, it is crucial to identify it, but it is most likely an issue with the seal. If the faucet isn’t sealed properly, this will definitely cause a leak.

While this can happen as a result of improper assembling, chances are the issue lies inside the faucet itself – or in its hardware, to be exact. In most cases, these internal hardware elements will cause a leak:

  1. Damaged/faulty cartridge;
  2. Clogged/faulty seat;
  3. Defective washer or gasket.

Also, it is important to determine whether the water is leaking or running. If the faucet is leaking, there probably won’t be much water, but it will accumulate over time. A running faucet will have a more continuous flow.

While the causes of both of these issues can be identical, if the water is shut off but still running in a continuous stream, this usually indicates a much deeper issue, such as a hidden leak in the walls.

This issue becomes even more alarming if the water is still running after you’ve shut the main valve. In this case, you may want to contact a plumber immediately and make sure the issue is properly addressed.


How to examine your faucet

Before proceeding to the repair stage, it is necessary to identify the issue, and you can only do so by opening the faucet hardware and examining the parts. This way you’ll be able to detect the faulty pieces and get the necessary replacement parts.

If your faucet leaks when water is turned off, you want to make sure if both handles (in case there are two handles) are fully closed.

You want to do the same if there’s a single handle, too, since you may need to close it tighter (especially with a compression washer faucet). However, if you’re sure you have the water turned off but still leaking, it’s time to open up the faucet.

Here are the steps to examine your leaky faucet:

  1. Make sure to shut off all sources of water by turning off the valve beneath the sink, or the main water supply if there’s no valve.
  2. Cover the drain and disassemble the sink.
  3. Remove the handles of the faucet, the valve’s stem/cartridge.
  4. Now, you want to take a close look at all the important parts, including rubber washers and rings. If you notice any damage or corrosion, they should be replaced.
  5. In case there’s a mineral buildup on any of the parts, you can repair them by soaking them in vinegar (this goes for the plastic parts – not the rubber).

How to fix a faucet turned off but with water still running

Nevertheless, if the faucet leaks when water is turned off, in order to find the right solution, you will have to determine the type of your leaking faucet. It may sound like a rather complicated task, but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

Before attempting to fix any kind of faucet, you want to make sure you’ve purchased the right replacement parts for your faucet type. You may not be able to identify which elements require replacing, but it’ll be much easier once you open it up.

Also, if you don’t know the names of the faulty pieces and you’re unable to identify them yourself, you can simply take them to the nearest plumbing supply store and have them pick out the adequate replacement parts.

Before starting any plumbing work, it is necessary to shut off both the cold and hot water valves located under the sink. Also, you want to place a piece of cloth or a rag underneath, which will help you catch any pieces that may fall, and also protect the area.

The replacement parts will vary depending on the type of faucet, but there are some tools that will come in handy for all faucets, including plumber’s grease, flathead and Phillips screwdrivers, Allen wrench, plumbing wrench or a channel lock, and pliers.

How to fix a ball faucet

You’ll know you have a ball faucet if it is controlled with a single handle moving over a ball-like cap above the faucet spout. These kinds of faucets are usually located in the kitchen, as they’re perfectly designed for a kitchen sink.

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This kind of faucet has a metal or plastic ball inside the faucet body which is controlled by the faucet handle. The ball positioncontrols the water flow, as well as the temperature, and whether the two temperatures will be mixed.

Here are the steps to fix a leaky ball faucet:

  1. Use a small flathead screwdriver to remove the cap covering the hex screw.
  2. Loosen the hex screw and remove the handle.
  3. Use a cloth to protect the area around the faucet.
  4. Remove the collar and the cap. Use a wrench to loosen the collar.
  5. Remove the packing, cam, and ball valve.
  6. Take a picture of the placement so you don’t have a problem returning everything to the initial position.
  7. Remove the cam, cam washer, and ball by loosening the faucet.
  8. At this point, you want to remove and replace the springs and seats by using a hex wrench to lift the rubber seat.
  9. Reassemble the faucet using the picture you took for reference.
  10. Turn the water on and check if it’s working.

How to fix a disk faucet

A ceramic disk faucet is considered the most modern and highest quality out of all faucet types since it has the capability of mixing cold and hot water inside a mixing chamber also known as the pressure balance cartridge.

A disk faucet has one lever over a wide cylindrical body, and two ceramic disks at the very bottom of the chamber. By rotating the handle side to side, you’re able to control the temperature of the water.

Here are the steps to fix a leaky disk faucet:

  1. Loosen the screw on the handle of the faucet by using an Allen wrench.
  2. Slowly pull the handle off the faucet body.
  3. Remove the decorative piece over the cartridge with your hand.
  4. Next, you want to remove the brass piece holding the cartridge by using channel locks.
  5. Remove the cartridge and replace it.
  6. Remove the O-ring with a screwdriver. Apply some plumber’s grease onto the new O-ring and install it in place of the old one.
  7. Reassemble the faucet returning all the removed pieces into place.

How to fix cartridge faucet

A cartridge faucet usually features two handles, and it is controlled by a handle that goes from the off to the on position. Some people confuse it with a compression washer faucet, but with a cartridge faucet, the action is much smoother and there’s no tightening.

With a compression washer faucet, you need to apply pressure in order to control the faucet, and especially to shut it off. A cartridge faucet, on the other hand, requires nothing but a half turn to be turned on.

Here are the steps to fix a leaky cartridge faucet:

  1. Remove the cap on top of the faucet handle (it covers the bolt).
  2. Loosen or remove any clips holding the cartridge, and remove the cartridge itself.
  3. Take your new O-rings and prepare them by applying plumber’s grease.
  4. Remove old O-rings and replace them with new ones.
  5. Replace the cartridge.
  6. Reassemble the faucet.

How to fix a compression washer faucet

Compression washer faucets are the oldest, and usually, the cheapest faucet type, which means that different kinds of issues, including leaks, aren’t really a surprise. You’ll recognize this kind of faucet by two handles: one for hot and one for cold water.

In order to shut off the water on these faucets, you’ll have to tighten the handles. Over time, the handles may lose their tightness, and it can be harder to shut them completely. Because of this, you may have the water turned off but the tap still dripping.

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Here are the steps to fix a leaky compression washer faucet:

  1. If you notice the water still running when the faucet is turned off, you’ll probably need to replace the seat washers.
  2. First, you want to remove the decorative cap covering the bolt.
  3. Next, use a screwdriver to loosen and remove the faucet handle.
  4. You’ll need two wrenches, one to loosen the packing nut, and the other to loosen the stem.
  5. Now you want to remove and replace the rubber washer located at the bottom of the stem (the new rubber washer should be prepared with plumber’s grease).
  6. Replace the washer located inside the seat.
  7. Reassemble the faucet.

What to do when a faucet won’t stop running?

A dripping faucet isn’t something you should ignore, since it can indicate a much bigger issue that may require professional assistance. As we’ve already mentioned, if water dripping turns into running, you should turn off the main valve and call a plumber.

In case the dripping is persistent or turns into consistent water running, it may be a consequence of a bigger issue in your plumbing, pipes, or irrigation system that could seriously damage your kitchen or bathroom.

However, in the case of “regular”, annoying dripping, you may be able to solve the issue on your own by following our DIY guides. First, you want to open up the faucet and examine the hardware looking for any faulty, damaged pieces or mineral buildup.

Once you’ve detected the faulty pieces, you can repair them or purchase new ones (which is always a better option in the long run). Next, identify the type of your faucet using our detailed guides and follow the steps to fix your faucet and prevent any future leaking.

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Why is my water still running after I turned it off? ›

There may be a hidden plumbing leak in the walls of your home, or maybe your toilet is running when it's not in use. These “hidden” leaks can cause your home to be using water even when your main water valve is turned off.

Why wont my water main shut off completely? ›

A gate valve not closing completely is typically due to sediment that has built up inside the body of the valve. The sediment becomes lodged between the gate that lowers, and the inside of the valve body itself.

Why is my water still leaking after shut off valve? ›

When tightened, the packing nut on your main water shut-off valve binds down the “packing material” against the washer to seal off water. Over time, though, this packing material can harden or disintegrate. And when this happens, it won't form a solid seal and will cause leaking.

How long should water run after turning off main valve? ›

After all faucets are open, let the COLD WATER run for at least 30 minutes. During this time, also flush each toilet in your home 2 or 3 times. Running the COLD WATER should remove any old (stagnant) water which may contain higher concentrations of metals including lead, if it exists in your service line or plumbing.

How do I stop my water from running? ›

How to turn off and drain outdoor water lines and faucets
  1. Locate and turn off the outdoor water shut-off valve. Your home's outdoor water shut-off valve is usually located near the ceiling, on the inside of the wall where the outdoor faucet is located. ...
  2. Disconnect the hose. ...
  3. Drain the pipe. ...
  4. Drain the inside valve.
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