The first thing to do is to close the water supply to your sink or shower. In case it is the sink leaking, you will find below inside the vanity a couple of knobs on the wall, close them all the way and open the faucets to make sure the water supply has been closed.
In case it is the shower, it will be necessary to close the water supply to the entire house; you will find the water valve outside the house or in the basement. Again close it and open a couple of faucets inside the house so the water pipes are completely emptied.
These instructions apply to a leaky shower and to a water faucet. Using the correct screwdriver, remove the handles with the letters H and C from the water valves. These should be plastic or metal, pry them gently and they will come off. Below them you will see screw heads, remove them and pull the knobs out. Pulling them out may take a little effort because they have been there for a while but with a little juggling they will come out. You will see a long cylinder which at the end, nearest to the wall, will have the shape of a large nut.
Take the wrench and put it tightly over the nut and turn it firmly counterclockwise. The whole thing will move, keep turning until you remove it from the wall. When removing it be careful not to damage or lose a plastic ring which acts as a gasket to keep water from dripping along the edges of the faucet. On the inside of the valve you will see a small rubber stopper, usually black, that closes the water flow when the water is off. These stoppers wear down, rip, or become deformed with time; this is what causes the leak.
Unscrew the stopper and head out to the hardware store to get a new one. These come in little boxes which contain several stoppers and screws. The kit may also contain different sizes of stoppers so be careful when picking the ones you will be buying. Once at home all you have to do is reverse the process. Chose the right size stopper, it should fit snuggly within the valves base. If it is too large, it will not close the water flow properly and if it is too small water will continue to leak. This is why you have to take the stopper with you to the store. You have to buy one that has exactly the same circumference as the old one.
It is a good idea to change both stoppers at the same time, if one is leaking the other one will probably start leaking soon. You have already cut the water supply so why not get the job completely done and forget about a leaky shower for a couple of years. Screw the stoppers into place firmly, not too tight to deform it and not to lose so that it moves. Put the valves back in place turning it clockwise until it is tight against the wall. Reassemble the handles and you are done. In a few minutes, you saved time and money, and best of all you have become a local plumber.
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