How to Fix a Leaking Tap
A leaking tap is a common problem in bathrooms and kitchens. Some people find the constant drip of a leaking tap particularly annoying, but it’s not just the constant drip-drip-drip that’s the problem here. If you are on a water meter, as many of us now are, you’ll be losing money with every drip. It’s surprising how quickly those drips add up to a litre or two of lost water too.
Fortunately, most leaky taps can be fixed by replacing the washer inside. If you have a tap with ceramic washers, they should last far longer than the usual rubber ones. If you’re not sure which type you have, you’ll need to take a look before purchasing any spares.
Turn off the water supply
There are two ways you can do this. Either find your stopcock and turn it off there, or locate the isolation valve close to the offending tap. This should be on the pipes below the sink or bath, depending on where the leaky tap is located.
Gaining access to the interior of the tap
No matter what kind of washer you have, it will be hidden inside the tap itself. A small grub screw will hold everything together, so you’ll have to go looking for it. Oftentimes there is a small cap screwed into the top of a traditional tap design. It may have hot or cold written on it. Unscrew this and you’ll probably locate the grub screw.
If you have a Monobloc tap with a ceramic washer, you may find the screw inside the tap control handle. If it’s not obvious, lean round and see if it’s located behind the main body of the tap.
Once this is done, you simply have to remove the top parts of the tap to find the washers. Remember, a Monobloc design or other pricier tap is likely to have a ceramic washer that looks like a cartridge. Cheaper, traditional taps will have rubber washers. It’s worth taking a picture on your phone so you can see what goes where, in case you struggle to put everything back together once you’re done.
There may be more than one rubber washer in your tap, so take the opportunity to replace both if you find two. Once done, you can put everything back together and put the grub screw back in. All that remains after that point is to turn the water supply back on, and enjoy a newly non-dripping tap once again.
While a new washer will fix the majority of leaky taps, it isn’t always the answer you’ll be looking for. If you’ve replaced it and it’s still leaking, or the leak is coming from the base of the tap rather than the tap itself, you may be better off seeking professional plumbing help.
Remember, leaving it to drip will cost you money if you’re on a water meter. A fast and professional solution is never far away, and it could prevent the problem getting worse.