How to fix a dripping tap
Drip, drip, drip, drip. It’s a sound that can drive you mad. There are few things more annoying than a tap that won’t stop dripping, and it’s a waste of precious water too. Here’s the Local Heroes guide on how to fix a dripping tap.
Tools to fix a dripping tap
Before you get started, gather the equipment you’ll need to fix a leaky tap. If you don’t have these tools already, they’re all relatively cheap and will be useful for lots of other jobs. Think of it as an investment.
- Flathead screwdriver
- Phillips screwdriver
- Adjustable spanner
- Replacement cartridge
The best course of action is often to simply replace the tap cartridge
Depending on what needs to be replaced you may need to purchase a new ceramic disk/rubber washer/the O-ring, all of which make up a washer cartridge. However, it’s probably easier and more cost-effective just to replace the whole thing - a new cartridge will only cost you between £10 and £20.
How do I fix a dripping tap?
- 1. Turn off the water
- Do this at the stopcock, which is usually the tap under your kitchen sink unit. In some houses it’s in a front or back hall or in a larder beside the sink.
- 2. Run the tap
- This will release any excess water still in the pipes.
- 3. Put a plug in it
- The sink that is. As you’ll be working with small screws, this will stop them escaping down the drain.
- 4. Get inside the tap
- This can vary in difficulty as you’ll have to remove the ornamental handle, then unscrew the part that holds the tap together. Some handles come off easily and you can unscrew it by hand but you may need a screwdriver.
Put the plug in the sink before unscrewing anything
- 5. Unscrew the nut
- Now that you’ve removed the outerwear of the tap, look for the hexagonal nut. Unscrew it with the adjustable spanner, but don’t force it. Just keep a tight hold of the base, otherwise you risk damaging the pipes and that’s a whole other problem that will need to be fixed.
Do not force the removal of the tap’s outerwear – this can damage the pipes
- 6. Replacement time
- You may need to replace the ceramic disk, the rubber washer, or the O-ring. Alternatively, you can replace the entire cartridge.
- 7. Screw it into place
- Once you’ve replaced the part, screw it into the exact same spot to make sure it’s sturdy and in place.
- 8. Put the tap together
- Now it’s just the reverse of what you did earlier. Put all the pieces together and make sure everything is locked up tight.
- 9. Smile at a job well done
- You’ve just saved yourself money and given yourself peace of mind. And in fewer than 10 steps.
Ensure everything is reassembled correctly to avoid further issues
Why do I need to fix a leaking tap?Aside from the incessant dripping, it’s important to fix a leaking tap because the longer you leave a leaking tap, the worse it’s going to get. Which can result in you having to replace the whole tap, rather than just fixing it. And that’s going to cost more and might require you getting in the professionals to help.
Not fixing a leaking tap leads to a massive waste of water. And a waste of money too. In just one year, a leaky tap can waste over 20,000 litres of water. Yep, 20,000. So not only is it wise to fix a leaking tap to help save the environment, but it’ll also reduce your water bill big time as well.
The average leaky tap can waste over 20,000 litres of water a year
Why is my tap dripping and how do different types of taps differ?There could be a number of reasons as to why your tap’s dripping:
- A damaged cartridge (the part of the tap that controls flow and temperature)
- Issues with the pipes such as corrosion or damage
- Water pressure too high
- The seat tap (where the spout meets the tap) may be corroded or worn out.
And it’s also important you identify which type of tap you have. This will help you get the right parts (or people) to make sure the job gets done right. Maybe you’ve got the traditional pillar ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ taps, mixer taps, disc taps, ball taps or cartridge taps. They all work differently and some can be more susceptible to leaking.
A dripping tap could be caused by a damaged cartridge, corroded pipes or too high water pressure
Some of these problems may be beyond your skills and if you’re still at a loss after trying our guide, then why not hire one of the many Local Heroes professionals in your area?
Is a dripping tap dangerous?You might think that because the water is dripping into the sink that a dripping tap isn’t dangerous. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. If left unchecked, those dreadful drip, drip, drips can cause harm.
Mould can produce ‘mycotoxins’ that can cause allergic reactions
The water can pool around underneath cupboards, eat into silicone, wear out joints – this will not only ruin your house, but it also encourages germs and bacteria to gather and grow. That’s where it becomes dangerous, because mould, mildew and damage to material can impact the health of everyone in the household. If you’ve got respiratory problems or allergies, then a collection of stagnant water and mould is the last thing you want.