How to fix a dripping tap

Hurrah! Know how to fix a dripping tap and you don't have to listen that incessant dripping any longer... with these simple steps

How to fix a dripping tap
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Want to know how to fix a dripping tap? Of course you do, because apart from the drip being the most annoying noise in the entire world, it's also a complete waste of water and money to have an incessantly leaking tap. Plus, if it's a serious leak there is potential for it to do some proper damage to your property, too. But fear not! There are things you can do yourself to try and repair a leaky tap, before you have to fork out for a plumber...

Follow this step by step to learn how to fix a leaky tap and make sure you also head over to our DIY hub page for loads more advice on sorting out your home yourself. 

You will need:

What type of tap do you have?

Before attempting to use these steps to fix a leaky tap, first identify the type of tap you are working with as this may help you work out what the problem is. 

Most household sinks will have one of two different types of taps: a traditional tap (that's two separate taps, one for hot and one for cold) or a monobloc tap (where you control the temperature and the flow of water through one lever). 

These different types of tap usually leak for different reasons. 

If you have a traditional tap, the main cause of a leak is usually that the O-ring or the rubber seal, also known at the washer, needs replacing. 

For a monobloc tap, it might be a case of a damaged ceramic cartridge. You can replace both yourself by following the steps below.

High water pressure could also be the root cause. If the water pressure in your home is too high, this will cause problems with the water flow in the pipes and prevent water from flowing efficiently from tap to tap, and water will start to get backed up.

Since it has nowhere else to go, it drips out of taps. This is a problem for plumbers to tackle – they will be able to fix it quickly and easily. 

Step one: turn off your water

Before you fix your leaky tap, you must turn off the water. 

To do this you will need to find the stopcock or the isolation valves, which are usually situated underneath the sink. Most sinks will have two valves, one for hot water and one for cold. We would recommend turning off both while you work, even if it's only one tap that is leaking. Do this by turning the valves until you can't turn anymore. Then run the taps until no more water comes out. 

Step two: take apart the tap 

This step will differ depending on what model of tap you have, but before you do anything, put a plug in the sink so nothing important ends up down the drain. 

Now, what you are looking for is a screw that will allow you to remove the tap. In some models this is located under the hot and cold caps which you can remove by hand or pop off with a slotted screwdriver, if you are stopping a leak in a monobloc tap, the screw can often be found underneath the temperature indicator button. 

Once you have removed the screw, take off the tap head; you might have to remove a cover, too, until you see the brass valve. To make things easier to put back together, lay out the pieces you have removed in the order you took them off. 

Step three: how to replace the washer 

This is where the steps will differ depending on the type of tap you have and the type of repair you need to make. If you have a traditional tap, keep reading to learn how to replace the washer or O-ring, if you have a monobloc lever tap, skip to step five to learn how to replace the ceramic disk.

For a traditional tap, use an adjustable spanner to grip the brass valve and turn until it feels loose enough to be able to remove with your hand. Then unscrew and remove the washer, check if it looks damaged or worn and replace it with a new one (you might be able to get away with just cleaning it). Screw the valve back on and put your tap back together the way you took it apart.

Step four: how to replace the O-ring

The O-ring looks like a slightly bigger washer and is situated at the base of the spout. You can use a flat-head screwdriver to remove it, or if you know it definitely needs replacing, you can use scissors to snip it off. Replace the O-ring and put your tap back together the same way you took it apart. 

Step five: how to replace the ceramic disc cartridge 

For a monobloc tap, remove the brass valve (also know at the ceramic disk cartridge) in the same way, using an adjustable spanner and twisting into until it feels loose enough to remove by hand. Then screw in your new cartridge and put back your tap in the same order as you took it apart. 

Step six: turn your water back on 

Just turn the isolation valve back on to get your water running again. 

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