How to fix leaking taps

Fixing your Leaking Tap

If the continuous, irritating drip of your leaking tap is not enough motivation for you to fix it, then consider how much money the wasted water is costing you. Leaky taps cost UK homeowners hundreds of pounds every year. Additionally, the mere thought of wasting this precious resource is bad enough. Fortunately, you do not always have to call a professional plumber to handle your faulty taps. First, try and tackle the problem yourself. You will just need a bit of know-how and some simple tools. This is what this guide is all about.

Before we get into it, let us first look into what could be the cause of your dripping tap. Understanding the root cause of the problem is imperative. This will enable you to treat the real issue rather than fixing the tap as a Band-Aid treatment.

Worn or Damaged Parts

Is the tap dripping steadily enough to make you want to rip it off of where it stands? A steady drip is an indication that the washer within the tap is faulty and needs to be replaced. However, if yours is a compression tap, at times the seal might get damaged as it holds back the water pressure whenever the tap is closed. In the case of cartridge taps, the moving parts within it such as the O-rings, inlet, and outlet seals might need replacing.

High Water Pressure

Does your tap have a tendency of leaking at specific times of day, like during the night when no other plumbing fixture is being utilised? This most likely indicates a high-water pressure which becomes a problem when no other taps are being used in the house. These leaks typically begin in the taps eventually leading to leaks in the piping. Call your plumber in such an event so they can evaluate and restore the water pressures to their appropriate levels.

Cracks in the Plumbing

Whenever a plumbing line is loose or has a crack, it not only leaks but also causes the taps attached to it to drip as well. If you realize that your tap has a slow but steady leak, it likely indicates that your plumbing might have cracks. This is especially true if it is in the cold season. Plumbing pipes that are not insulated run a high chance of cracking. Even though some cracks might be minor and just lead to dripping taps, they eventually become worse to a point where they burst causing significant damage. A simple fix would be to have pipe insulation on your pipes to avoid this nightmare. Check out and Amazon as they have a pretty good range of options.

Although there are various types of taps out there, the fixing procedure is basically the same: You will have to disassemble the tap and then assemble it back together while fixing any issue you come across. The tools you will need for this job include a wrench, screwdriver, and the necessary replacement parts for your specific type of tap. Check out if you don’t have them all to hand.

As stated, this guide shall not cover every tap model out there. Thus, if anything is not clear, a simple search on your tap’s manufacturer’s website should suffice. Additionally, the people at your local hardware store should be able to give you some advice on what you need.

When fixing a leaking tap, the first step is to turn off the water supply to the tap. Otherwise, you will have a geyser inside your home instead of a leak. Locate the tap’s shut-off valve or turn-off the entire house’s water supply if you have to. This will enable you to avoid making a mess as you carry out the fix.

After shutting off the water supply, turn the tap on to eliminate any residual water. Now remove the tap’s cover and loosen the screw on the underneath cap. It should either snap off or screw off which will now enable you to remove the tap’s handle. You will notice a stem beneath the tap; rotate it. You may have to remove the packing nut if it calls for it before you can examine the stem. Stems are different; some can be unscrewed while others are popped off.

It is unlikely that the stem is the cause of the dripping, nevertheless, if it looks worn down, consider replacing it. The most probable culprits are the O-ring and washer which are attached to the stem. To fix the drip, you will have to tighten these parts. Replace them if they are in bad shape. If you have to replace them, ensure that you carry them with you when you go to the hardware shop. This is to make sure that you get parts identical to them because if you buy ones that don’t match, you will worsen the issue.

At this juncture, if you identified that the O-ring or washer was the cause of the leak, you can go ahead and reassemble the tap. However, if these parts have no fault, or adjusting them does not seem to solve the issue, it is probable that the valve seal is the potential culprit. This part is in the tap’s body below the stem. You can try and adjust it or even replace it entirely if it is worn out.

Once you have identified and repaired or replaced the problem areas, now start putting the tap back together. You will need to carefully reassemble all the components in reverse order. Some silicone grease or jelly should be of assistance when putting the stem back in place. Gently turn the water back on to see whether the leak has stopped, and the water is flowing correctly.


If you have followed all the above instructions and there is still a leak, it is highly likely that you have an underlying issue such as a cracked pipe or high water pressure. You will need to call a plumber, like ourselves, so that the problem does not get worse.

The guide above relates to washer-type or compression taps – which have handles on the side. Other types such as cartridge and ball-type taps are designed differently. Nonetheless, the premise remains the same: to disassemble and reassemble the tap as carefully as you can, while fixing or replacing any faulty components that you come across.

On some occasions, you may have to replace the entire tap setup; on others, it could be just a tiny component. Fortunately, however, most of today’s taps are built with repairability in mind. Thus, the manual that came with the tap should prove to be of help.

Sometimes, you will not be able to correct every issue within your home by yourself. If your efforts are not working, admitting defeat is the next logical step. There might be something seriously wrong that needs the attention of a professional like us.