How To Fix A Dripping Tap

Leaking taps can quickly become an annoyance. Not only can they cause water damage in your home and rack up your water bill, but the noise of water constantly dripping is enough to drive anyone mad.

Fortunately, you don't need to sit around and wait for a plumber as we have created a step-by-step guide on how to fix a dripping tap!

Check out our guide below to find the steps you should take to stop your tap from leaking!

Determine where the leak is coming from

Determine Cause

Before you can fix a dripping tap, you must determine where the leak is coming from. Generally, the leak's location will help you diagnose why your tap is leaking and what you can do to fix it.

There are a few familiar places for water to leak from; these are the spout of your tap, the area beneath the spout and the handle.

The 2 types of valves in taps

In the world of taps, there are two main types of valves you will come across. These are compression valves and ceramic disc valves. It's essential to check what valves your tap uses, as the type of valve you have will determine which washers you need.

Compression valve taps

Compression taps are the traditional style of tap valve. An easy way to check if you are using a compression tap is to check if you have two separate hot and cold taps. If you do, then chances are your tap uses a compression valve.

Ceramic disc valve taps

You can usually tell if your tap is a ceramic valve tap by checking how far it will turn. Another name for ceramic valve taps is quarter or half-turn taps. If your tap can only turn a quarter of the way, then it's likely it uses a ceramic disc valve.

What is a mixer tap?

A mixer tap is a tap that will allow you to combine both hot and cold water through a single spout. Mixer taps are one of the most common taps found in most homes as they can help save space.

Mixer designs are popular kitchen taps where there is limited space, and you don't have room for a large basin.

Tools you will need to fix a dripping tap

Wondering how to repair a dripping tap? First, as with any repair job, having the right tools is essential. Before you start fiddling with dripping taps, be sure to grab your toolbox and check if you have the following means:

  • An adjustable spanner
  • A pair of scissors
  • A crosshead or flat head screwdriver
  • A replacement cartridge, O-ring or assorted washers
  • An Allen key.

PTFE tape is also a handy way to quickly form a seal, especially if you don't know exactly how to stop a dripping tap!

Always isolate your water supply when fixing a dripping tap

If your tap features an isolation valve, you will want to use your screwdriver to turn it off before attempting to repair it. Simply turn the isolation valve using a screwdriver, commonly found under your tap.

If you struggle to find the valve on your tap, you will need to switch the water supply off using a stopcock. You will usually find a bathroom tap stopcock beside the pipes underneath the sink.

Be sure to check that no water is coming through your tap before starting.

How to fix a Compression Valve Tap - Step By Step Guide

Valve Tap

Compression valves are most commonly found in a traditional tap design. This design is tried and tested, and they are thankfully reasonably easy to fix. Here are the steps you will need to take to repair a leaking tap using compression valves!

Step 1: Remove the tap covers

Taking the covers off your tap head is simpler than it sounds. Most modern taps will feature covers on your tap's hot or cold indicator that you can simply screw off with your hand. However, there are a few you may need to use a screwdriver or an Allen key to remove.

Step 2: Remove the handle and tap the valve

Once the tap covers have been removed, you will be able to access the screws securing your tap handle to the sink. Loosen this screw with your screwdriver, and you should be able to pivot your tap handle.

Next, you will need to remove your tap valve. First, you will need to use your screwdriver on the top screw. Now grab your adjustable spanner, and loosen the valve so that you can remove it from your tap.

Once you've removed the valve, you will need to unfasten the nut securing your tap's washer. While holding the washer in place, you'll want to remove the screw using your flat-head screwdriver.

Step 3: Check the tap seating

A large majority of leaks can be routed back to your tap's seating. Over time the seal found alongside your tap seat will erode, causing the tap washer to sit at an angle; this leads to leaky taps.

There are two ways to fix a tap's seat; the first is to use a seat insert kit to form a new seal between the seat and tap washer. You can also use a seat grinder tool to flatten your tap's seat, allowing your tap washer to flush and prevent water from leaking.

At this stage, you should also check the tap washer to see if it has eroded. If you notice any damage, it's recommended to replace the tap washer with a new one.

How to fix a Ceramic Disc Valve Tap - Step By Step Guide

Disc Valve

Repairing a leaky tap with ceramic discs is thankfully even easier than fixing a traditional tap. Whether you are wondering how to fix a dripping mixer tap or how to fix a dripping lever tap, follow the steps below if it has a ceramic disc.

We have assumed that you have already isolated the water supply following the steps found above:

Step 1: Remove the tap handle

To access your tap's valve, you will first need to remove the handle. In most ceramic valve taps, you will need an Allen key to achieve this. You may need to unscrew a tiny screw found on the handle of your dripping tap to access the slot for your Allen key.

Step 2: Remove and check the valve

Once the handle of your dripping tap has been removed, you should be able to access your tap's valve. Using your adjustable spanner, you will need to loosen the valve and then gently remove it by hand.

After the ceramic valve has been removed, you will want to check it for dirt or grime. You may not need to entirely replace your valve if it is dirty, as a deep clean should get the job done.

Step 3: Replace the valve

If your valve is damaged, then you will need to replace it. Slot your new valve into place and gently secure it using your spanner. You can then repeat the above steps to ensure your tap is back in place.

Before checking it is working correctly, always remember to switch your water supply back on!

For more guidance, find how to change bathroom taps, or our complete guide to water pressure.

How to replace a Tap Valve O-Ring - Step By Step Guide

Tap Valve

If the above steps don't fix your leaking tap, it could be a damaged ring fastened to your tap's valve. There are two main types of O-rings; the following steps apply to valve rings.

Step 1: Remove your valve

Using the guides above, remove the valve from your head. Whether your tap uses compression or ceramic discs, the removal process will be different, so be sure you are following the right guide for your tap.

Step 2: Replace the ring

Once you have found the valve O-ring, gently remove it from your tap using your flat-head screwdriver. O-rings can be fairly fragile, so always be careful when removing them from your tap.

All you need to do is simply place the replacement O-ring back into the correct position and fasten your tap's valve.

How to replace a tap Spout O-Ring - Step By Step Guide

Tap Spout

Another common cause of a leaking tap is the rubber ring found at your tap's spout base. Follow the below steps to learn how to replace your spout's O-ring and prevent your tap from leaking:

Step 1: Loosen your tap

Before starting, be sure to loosen your tap body underneath your sink by using your adjustable spanner. Simply twist the nut underneath your tap; this will help you when it comes to replacing your spout's ring.

Step 2: Unfasten the grub screw

Now that your tap is loose, you will want to rotate it so that you can access the small grub screw found on your leaking tap. This will allow you to lift the spout giving you access to the rubber ring.

Step 3: Remove and replace the O-ring

Using your screwdriver, gently remove the damaged rubber ring from the spout of your tap. If it is being stubborn, you can also use a pair of scissors to snip the faulty ring.

To replace this ring, gently roll your replacement back onto the base of your spout. Once it's back into position, follow the above steps in reverse to attach your tap back into place securely.

You may also find helpful how to fix a leaky shower, how to fit new bathroom taps, or how to turn off your water supply at home.