Outdoor faucets tend to be hard-wearing fixtures made mostly of metal. And they need to be, too. Staying outdoors in all conditions from blazing sun to freezing winter nights can be hard on even a tough material. And although outdoor faucets are hard-wearing, they can malfunction or wear out too. Here are some of the outdoor faucet parts that may need replacing in such a scenario.

1. Packing washer

A faucet's packing washer provides a compressible surface so that when the interior parts of the faucet close off, water can't sneak through any gaps. The packing nut is the nut that you can see in the center of the handle on a typical outdoor faucet, and the packing washer is at the other end of this piece.

If the washer is too old, it could start to crack or stiffen, either of which can mean it no longer provides a good seal. If the faucet is leaking from the handle area, you may need the packing washer replaced. 

2. Valve stem washer 

The valve stem is a piece behind the faucet that sticks back into the pipe the faucet feeds on. This valve stem has a washer at the far end, which is needed to create a good seal. If this washer wears out, your faucet could end up leaking. 

Replacing the valve stem washer requires some disassembly of the faucet, and you won't know if this washer was the problem until after disassembly has occurred. You may want to leave this job to a professional if you're not comfortable taking your outdoor faucets apart and putting them back together.

3. Faucet handle

In some cases, the handle of your faucet could become damaged through an accident such as a run-in with a lawnmower (especially if it's a plastic handle). In other scenarios, the handle may just become old and worn-out.

When shopping for a replacement, keep in mind that you can choose from different styles of handle. And if you have trouble gripping the handle and turning it, you can also find larger handles that fit over a standard-size faucet handle to help you get more leverage and a better grip.

These are some of the parts of your outdoor faucet that could fail due to weathering, mishap, or old age and that may sometimes need to be replaced. You can also have the entire faucet replaced if it has multiple broken parts or no longer works for your needs. Talk to a local contractor to learn more about outdoor faucet parts.