How to Fix a Dripping Tap

fixing a dripping tap

There’s nothing more annoying than trying to get a good night’s sleep or trying to get some work done but all you keep hearing is the non-stop drip of water leaking from a tap.

You have tried everything within your power and limited knowledge to make it stop but it’s all proven futile. Not only is this leaking tap wasting water, but it is also causing your sink to rust. You may also likely be exposed to mould infestation.

Now the reasonable step to take is to hire a plumber to fix the leaking tap, but what if you do not have the money? Is it possible to diagnose the cause of the dripping tap and fix it by yourself?

Yes! It is possible. In this article, we will be enlightening you on how to diagnose the cause of a leaking tap, the tools you will need to repair the tap and a step-by-step guide on repairing your dripping tap yourself.


Overview of water wastage in different scenarios due to dripping and leaking taps.


Scenario Amount of Water Wasted Time Period
Dripping tap (per day) 5 gallons Daily
Dripping tap (per year) 2,080 gallons Yearly
Leaking tap (once per second) Fills a gallon bucket in 4.5 hours One-time event
Showerhead leaking (10 drips/min) More than 500 gallons per year Yearly


How to Diagnose a Dripping Tap

Now the first step to repairing a dripping tap is to find the source of the problem. The leak source could be from the head of the tap, spout, handle, or pipes. If it is from the tap head, then you have to check the tap stem, however, if there is water pooling on the floor, then the pipes could be the problem.

Ensure to go straight to the source of the problem so that you don’t cause more damage to the plumbing system. Once you have identified the leak source, the next step is to go straight into repairs.

Also, consider the type of tap you have, whether it is compression, pillar, mixer, monobloc, washer, cartridge taps, ceramic disks, etc.


Tools and Materials Needed to Repair a Leak


Tools and Materials Needed to Repair a Dripping Tap

If you want to repair a leaking tap by yourself, you need to have the right tools and/or materials needed for the repair. Examples of tools you need to have:

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Bucket
  • Replacement tap washers, cartridges and O-rings
  • Flathead or crosshead screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench or pliers
  • Allen keys
  • Tap Lubricant

Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing Your Dripping Tap

  • Isolating the water supply
  • Accessing the tap mechanism
  • Replacing the washer(s)
  • Reassembly and leak check


Isolating the water supply


Isolating the water supply

The first step to fixing your leaking tap is to cut off the water supply. This means that you have to locate the main valve and shut it off. The valve is usually under the sink or at the main water stopcock.

However, if you are still looking for yours, you should contact a plumber to help you out.

When you finally locate the shut-off valve, turn it off. This helps prevent water from flooding the bathroom or kitchen floor and further drains the remaining water from the tap.


Accessing the tap mechanism

At this point, you have to determine what type your tap is, whether it is compression, ceramic disc taps or any other type of tap. If it is a compression tap, then you should be looking out for a screw either under the handle cap or somewhere else.

When you locate the screw, use the adjustable spanner to unscrew it and loosen the valve. Hold the valve steady then use a screwdriver to remove the screw that is holding the water.

If your tap uses ceramic disc taps, then you need to use a wrench or a plier to loosen and remove the tap cartridge that blocks the water.


Replacing the washer


Replacing the washer(s)

If you correctly follow the above steps till now, you should be able to locate the leak source by now. At the leak source, you will see a worn-out washer which you have to remove and replace with a new one.

Unless you bought the exact size of the washer to replace the worn-out one with, you should have different sizes and shapes of replacement washers to choose from.

Find the one that perfectly fits and replace the washer.

When you have done that, you should reassemble the tap mechanism.


Reassembly and leak check

At this stage, you should be reassembling the tap mechanism. This step matters cause if you don’t secure the parts tightly or you tighten them more than you should, it can cause a problem.

When you are done tightening it, slowly turn the water supply on. Return to your repaired tap and check if there are any leaks around it. If you can’t find any, then you have done a great job of fixing your dripping tap,

If there is, you may need to go back and check if there is something that you did incorrectly.


A leaking tap should be repaired immediately Why?

Here are some reasons why you should fix your dripping tap as soon as possible:


To prevent mould, water damage and other attendant health issues

If you let your dripping tap remain unrepaired for a long time, it may result in mould, mildew, moisture damage and attendant health issues.

For instance, wet spots around your wall and floor can worsen and become a health hazard, causing:

  • Respiratory illnesses like bronchitis.
  • Allergic reaction and irritation.
  • Runny nose and itchy throat.

This situation can have disastrous consequences in the long term, particularly for those with serious health challenges.

Besides health problems, mould and dampness can incur financial expenses. This is because you have to make repairs and replacements to your walls and floors.

According to studies, British residents spend as much as £1.8bn annually to fix the moisture-related damages in their property.

So ensure your dripping tap is fixed before it becomes a source of headaches and sleepless nights!


Improve the functionality of your kitchen or bathroom space

Dripping tap can be very frustrating as the annoying noise that emanates from it can be disruptive.

Thus, to get rid of this problem, we usually advise a full faucet head replacement. This will lower the likelihood of the problem re-occurring.

A new tap will not only improve your home’s functionality but look more visually appealing than the old, rusted, leaky one.


Friendly to the environment

Repairing a dripping tap is advantageous to the sustainability of the environment.

Studies have shown that tap leaking can waste 5 gallons of water daily. This is bad for the environment as water is a precious resource. Think of the millions of people who lack access to clean water.

So it makes a lot of sense to get your dripping tap fixed for anthropocentrical reasons.


Save On Your Water Bill

Another reason why a dripping faucet needs to be fixed immediately is that it contributes to a huge water bill. Many people underestimate how much water they consume but unusually high water bills are usually related to leaks.


Final Words,

While there is immense satisfaction that one gets from repairing their taps themselves, it will not pay to cause worse damage if you have absolutely no idea of what you are doing.

This means that you should employ the services of a plumbing agency to help you out if you are experiencing difficulty in fixing your leaking tap.

Nevertheless, fixing your tap will help to conserve water and reduce the water bill. Also, check out this helpful YouTube video for a visual guide:

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