How to Fix a Leaking Tap

If you fancy yourself as an accomplished do-it-yourself handyman you can easily tackle the task of fixing a leaky tap. However, if you are at all unsure it is best to call in a plumber to do the job. To get a tap when attempting to change a washer or accessing a valve can be tricky.

Before Getting Started

– When dismantling a tap put the plug into the hole to avoid small parts from dropping down the plughole.
– If the tap has a chrome finish be careful when undoing parts with spanners as gripping tools can scratch the beautiful chrome finish. Make use of a soft cloth between the jaws of a spanner and the surface of the tap.
– When reassembling the parts after replacing the washer or valve, avoid over tightening as it may cause excess stress on joints and damage the tap.

Getting Started

When fixing a leaking tap you need to remove the tap handle, as well as the shroud of there is one, to reveal the underlying valve. Use an adjustable spanner to unscrew the valve and remove it from the top seat. The washer can be unscrewed or flipped off and replaced.

Determine whether the tap has ceramic discs or rubber washers by turning the handle. If the handle rotates only to a quarter or half turn, it is most likely a ceramic disc type; if it rotates further then it will have a rubber washer. (Certain single-lever mixer taps have ceramic cartridges specifically designed by a particular manufacturer and a replacement may have to be ordered specially.) With ceramic taps, the whole valve is replaced whereas taps with rubber washers only need to have the small washer replaced.

Follow the Steps

1. Safely turn off the water supply, which is easy when the isolation valves are close to the tap on the supply pipes. Depending on the valve design, if the slot in the screw is aligned with the pipe, the valve is on. Turn the screw a quarter of a turn until the slot runs across the pipe to turn the valve off.

2. Place the plug in the hole and run the tap for a few seconds to get rid of residual water from the pipes.

3. To remove the tap head you need to gain access to the handle screw hidden under a cap located on the handle of the tap. This cap will be simple to unscrew. Alternatively, the cap may need to be flipped off by using a slot-head screwdriver. This can be done by carefully pushing the screwdriver under the edge of the cap and easing it off. With some top designs, you may be able to simply lift off the cap with your fingers, while other may require an Allen key.

4. On single-lever taps, it may be necessary to flip the hot/cold indicator tab off with a slot-head screwdriver which will reveal a small retaining screw. Take care not to scratch the finish of the chrome.

5. Place all parts that are removed in order of removal to make it easy to reassemble.

6. Replace a ceramic cartridge, similar to a ceramic disc valve, with an adjustable spanner. After removing the cap, undo the screw and release the tap handle which will lift off easily to reveal the valve. Remove the shroud if the tap has one)then grip and turn the valve using an adjustable spanner to remove the ceramic valve. Replace it with a new one and reassemble the tap.

7. To replace a rubber washer, remove the handle cap and unscrew. Remove the handle and the shroud if there is one to reveal the valve underneath. Unscrew the tap valve using an adjustable spanner and remove it. To remove the washer unscrew it or flip it off and replace with a new one before reassembling the tap.

A common cause of leakage in kitchen taps is worn O-Rings. Some O-Rings may also be found on the valve body in certain taps. If a tap still leaks after replacing a washer, check if there are other O-Rings or seals on the body of the valve and check if they are worn.

Take care not to over-tighten taps when turning them off to protect rubber washers. It is normal for a tap with a rubber washer and a compression valve to drip after being turned off and it is not necessary to over-tighten the tap, but rather wait for these residual drips to stop.