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How To Fix A Leaking Tap

by | 29 Oct 20 | Help and Advice | 8 comments


How to fix a leaking tap is often one of the most plumbing terms searched for on the internet.  Believe it or not, this is one of the tasks that is attempted by DIYers on a very regular basis.  After all, in London, most people are competent in fixing a leaking tap therefore, it cannot be that hard.  If you have a monobloc mixer tap or basin mixers that is leaking, it can be one of the most annoying noises to hear, with the constant dripping of water from either the kitchen or bathroom tap.

What Causes A Tap To Leak?

There are numerous things that can cause a tap to start leaking.  These can include corrosion, limescale built up on the inside of the tap, a defective washer, a damaged valve seat, excessive water pressure or a damaged cartridge just to name a few.


Places Where A Tap Can Have A Leak

A tap does not necessarily have to leak from the sprout (where the water comes out for you and I) but it can also leak from where the lever is , that is, what you use to turn on your tap.  If you can see water coming from the sprout, then it is likely that the washer needs changing or re-seating.  However, if the leak is coming from the lever then the likelihood is that the o-ring has split or perished and needs changing (stay tuned for next blog, don’t to confuse you too much).




What Type Of Tap Do You Have

 Within the UK, there are commonly two types of taps that are in use (aka faucet for our American brothers and sisters): you either have the traditional tap i.e. two separate taps, one for hot water and one for cold water or you have a monobloc mixer tap i.e. one tap with hot and cold water coming from the same sprout.  Usually, the traditional tap drips because either its internal rubber seal, that is, its washer needs replacing.  A monobloc mixer tap either has rubber washer or a ceramic cartridge and from time to time, this needs replacement as it gets worn down.  For some of us who have a very expensive monobloc tap, be prepared to pay top pounds (or dollars) for a replacement cartridge.


Photo showing two separate taps on how to fix a dripping tap
Photo showing monobloc mixer bathroom tap with liquid hand soap beside it.
Tools required to repair your leaking tap
Required Tools and Tap Materials

 To repair your leaking tap, you will definitely require the following items:

  1. The replacement cartridge/washer.
  2. Slot or cross-head screwdriver
  3. Adjustable spanner
  4. PTFE tape


Let Us Begin
Let Us Begin


Now that you have the required parts &/or tools, it’s time to begin.  In order to repair your tap, you will need to take the following steps.

You are going to have to turn off your water supply to your property or if you are lucky this can be isolated below the tap.  Prior to turning off your water please make sure that your cold tap is running.  When fixing a leak on the kitchen tap it is important to leave open a tap in your bathroom and vice versa, you get the idea.  Do not turn off your tap at all even after you have turned off your water.  

An avid DIYer will know that before commencing any plumbing work,  it is vital that the water supply to the property be turned off and checked that it has been turned off, but for those of us who do not know how to turn your water off this is for you.  If still confused, take a look at our blog on how to turn off your water valve (isolation valve).  How will you know that you have completely turned off your water? Good question – remember that cold water tap that you left running, no more water will be coming from it. If it is still running leave it for a couple of minutes and then check again.

Once you have managed to turn off your water you can then commence fixing your leaking tap.  

Steps To Take

Before you begin, please ensure that you put the plug in the plughole.  This will stop any screws from getting down the drain hole accidentally and we wouldn’t want that now would we.

Regarding the traditional tap, you are going to have to find the screw that is located in the handle.  The screw, believe it or not holds the tap handle together.  This screw is usually located under the decorative cap which is on the top of the tap handle.  Bet you didn’t think of looking there.  This is now where your tools come in. Should you be a gym addict and have a bit of muscles you can unscrew this by hand but for most of us mere not so fit individuals who have never been inside a gym much, the slot-headed screwdriver or your adjustable spanner is now your new best friend at this moment.

With respect to taps that are monobloc, the entrance is normally a tiny grub screw which is located underneath the hot or cold button.

Go On You Can Do It

Replace the required part by unscrewing the tap body to reveal the washer or cartridge.  That wasn’t so bad was it or are you like the rest of us scratching your head and wondering what you have gotten yourself into.

You are going to use the adjustable spanner and hold the central hexagonal nut to unscrew the spindle while bracing the tap sprout with your other hand. It is vital to brace the tap otherwise your tap may become loose.  I know right, it seems like some acrobatic moves.  By doing this, your tap will not twist and will prevent the pipes beneath from bending or becoming kinked.  

Normally, the washer at the top is called the O-ring and the bottom one is shaped like a polo mint.  Like some of us, you may not have the washer or the cartridge at hand.  This is where you are now going to take the spindle to your local plumber’s merchant and ask for the suitable washer.  If like me you can’t be bothered just drop into your local hardware store and pick up a bag of assorted washers.  You never know, you just may be doing Diy plumbing  more often than you thought.  

Lets see if you have fixed a leaking tap 

Now assembly your tap back together in the reverse order.  Also remember to turn on your isolation valve to check for leaks and the taps operation.

Ta Da- give yourself a socially distanced high five.

Step by Step

Oh, one other thing that you must remember on how to fix a leaking tap when you go to turn back on the water please ensure that the cold side of the tap that you turned off, is still open.  By doing this when the water comes back on, the pressure will be released especially if you have a tank fed system this will prevent in most cases airlock.  The water will come back splashing out until the pressure has been regulated. Once water is flowing without spitting you can turn off the tap.

On the other hand, if you are not the avid DIYer and want to call in the professional, then contact us.