Let’s say that every time you turn the small globe valve for the outdoor hose bib, you get that drip-drip-drip from the body of the valve. Or maybe your drip occurs at the small needle valve for the icemaker or the humidifier – turn the valve and the darned thing leaks.
Maybe you wire a coffee can below the valve to catch drips, and the problem is solved – until the can overflows onto the floor.
It’s time to adjust the packing nut. What’s that? Most needle, globe and gate valves have a packing nut that surrounds the valve stem. On these valves, you usually turn the handle around and around to control the flow. The valve handle is sealed at the stem with a packing nut and flexible packing below the nut.
The fix? Tighten the hex nut slightly to compress the packing around the valve stem, and the leak will stop. This may make the valve harder to turn, so don’t tighten it too much – just enough to stop the drip. If the drip continues, you may need to dismantle the valve and replace the packing, a job often best left to a plumber.
If you allow a valve to continue dripping, deposits will build up around the valve stem and eventually ruin the valve.