How to fix a leaking or dripping tap quickly
22 March 2022
A leaking or dripping tap can be a real nightmare, especially if it happens unexpectedly. The issue usually occurs due to the washer or cartridge not forming a solid watertight seal. Furthermore, the side effects of a dripping tap can be a significant impact on your water bill. Fixing a leaking tap is usually a simple DIY job.
Knowing how to fix a tap can be very beneficial, and following our quick guide below could save you calling a plumber and you’ll be able to fix your leaking tap very quickly.
What you will need to fix a leaking tap
You will need a few important tools to fix the leaking tap, we recommend that you get together these parts now to save you having to find these parts in the middle of your DIY job:
- Adjustable wrench / spanner
- Mixture of flat-edge and cross-head screw driver
- New tap washer / cartridge and o-ring
Fixing a leaking tap
Identify where the leak source is
- Traditional tap – run with a compression valve and use rubber washers
- Modern tap – run with ceramic disks or cartridges
- Monobloc tap – run like modern taps but with specially designed ceramic disks or cartridges for single taps.
We will now start with the steps to replace a tap washer…
Firstly, turn off the water supply
First thing to do is isolate the tap, you can do this by closing the isolation valve on the pipe. Using the flat screw driver, turn the valve a quarter-turn. Once you have isolated the tap, simply open it to release any water still in the pipe.
Is the tap a hot water tap?
Combi boilers: Turn off the water mains stopcock, this will usually shuts off the water to every outlet in the home.
Hot water cylinder: Turn off the gate valve on the cold water supply pipe, usually this is a red wheel-shaped valve on a pipe running downwards to the base of the cylinder.
Is the tap a cold water tap?
Leaking kitchen cold tap: Simply turn off the mains
Leaking bathroom cold tap: Isolate the supply from the cistern. Turn off the gate valve on the supply pipe, this can normally be found on the supply pipe close to the cistern. If no gate valve, isolate the supply to the cistern and drain it down.
Find and remove the screw
We suggest that you put a plug in the sink to avoid any screws or tools from entering the drain. Locate the small screw holding the tap together – normally labelled with the ‘H’ or ‘C’ cap. Pry it off with a screwdriver and simply unscrew the screw.
Monobloc taps with only a single lever: Usually, the screw is located behind the hot or cold marker. Pry it off with a screwdriver and unscrew with a screwdriver, you may need an Allen key.
Remove the tap cartridge / headgear
The top of the brass assembly is what holds the washer, commonly known as the tap cartridge or headgear. Undo the nut with a spanner, if it’s too tight – use a cloth or towel to firm your grip.
Replace the tap washer
Swap the faulty washer with the brand new one. If you are finding it difficult identifying which washer to get, take the headgear or cartridge to your local plumbing centre. In rare cases, you may find that the washer is held in its jumper via a small screw.
Finally, you now need to reassemble the tap by following this guide in reverse. If you are still not able to fix your tap, it’s time to call a plumber to prevent any further issues!