Why Do I Need to Fix a Dripping Tap?
A dripping tap can be very annoying, especially if you can hear it dripping from other rooms in the house.
It's hard to take a relaxing bath while the tap on the sink is constantly dripping or to sit and enjoy a meal while the kitchen tap is constantly dripping.
Not only is it annoying, but it's a huge waste of water and could cause your water bills to increase significantly.
A little drop every few seconds or minute or so might not seem like a lot, but it really does add up if it's constant over an entire day.
A dripping tap that isn't fixed right away could lead to bigger problems such as a leak, or the tap may just stop working completely. Leaving a tap dripping can also lead to stains.
This is why it's important to get your dripping tap fixed as soon as possible.
How to Fix a Dripping Tap Yourself
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to fix a dripping tap:
Once your tap has been isolated, or the water has been turned off, drain all of the water out of the tap by turning it on.
Remove the tap head and then undo the head gear nut with an adjustable spanner or pipe grips. If it's tight, protect the tap with a cloth and prevent it from rotating whilst undoing the nut.
Next, remove the head gear assembly. The washer sits in the jumper and is either pressed in place, often over a small button or retained by a nut. If necessary, unscrew the nut holding the washer in place with an adjustable spanner.
Remove the old washer and insert a new washer, pushing it into the jumper.
Reassemble the tap in the same way that you took it apart.
Turn the water supply back on, either at the isolation valve or the stop cock – whichever method you used to turn it off.
Test the tap and make sure it is no longer dripping.
Tools to Fix a Dripping Tap
You will need to following tools to fix a dripping tap:
- Adjustable spanner/pipe grips
Safety Equipment to Fix a Dripping Tap
You won't need any specific safety equipment when fixing a dripping tap.
Materials to Fix a Dripping Tap
Below is a list of the materials that you will need to fix a dripping tap:
- A packet of various sized washers
How to Prepare for a Dripping Tap Repair
To prepare for fixing your dripping tap, check for an isolation valve underneath the sink. If there is one, use a screwdriver or use the handle (depending on the type) to completely isolate the tap from the water supply.
If there isn't a valve present, you'll have to turn off your water supply at the stop cock.
Common Dripping Tap Problems
There are several reasons why your tap may be dripping, such as:
Scratched ceramic discs
Modern taps feature ceramic disc cartridges, which are proven to prevent leaks. However, if they are scratched, this can cause the tap to drip and will require replacement.
Cartridge filled with dirt
A recently installed tap may have been chipped or damaged in the fitting process, which could lead to dripping due to dirt being built up on the cartridge.
Loose O ring
If you notice your tap is leaking from the joint's main body, this may be caused by a damaged or loose O ring. This will need to be fully replaced at the base of the spout.
Another common cause of a dripping tap is a worn-out washer which occurs as a result of constant pressure on the tap's valve seat. This can be solved by replacing the washer completely.
Types of Tap
There are several different types of tap. Below is an overview of each of the most popular types of taps in the UK:
Pillar taps are one of the most common types of tap within the UK. These are mounted onto the sink or bath and include separate taps for hot and cold water.
They will usually include a lever or some kind of mechanism to turn the taps on or off. Pillar taps come in a wide range of designs, colours, and styles.
These are a traditional type of tap that includes two pillar taps joined together. There is just one spout, and both the hot and cold water comes out of this same spout.
This is helpful if you want to mix the water to get the perfect temperature for your needs.
Wall-mounted taps are those that are fixed to the wall and hang over the sink or bath. These taps are easy to clean but require more plumbing.
Also, they are harder to repair as the pipes are located within the wall, making them harder to access.
These taps are very easy to install. They are similar to pillar taps, but they feature a twisting handle to turn them on or off.
It has a small washer inside, which controls the amount of water that is released, giving them their name.
These are a type of tap with a single spout for hot and cold water. It is operated by an adjustable lever.
This allows you to choose the temperature of the water with a simple shift of the lever.
Q: Why is my tap dripping?
A: The most common cause for a dripping tap is a worn-out washer. Putting in a new washer will usually rectify a dripping tap.
However, there could be other reasons why your tap is dripping, such as dirt in the cartridge, a corroded valve seat, or a loose or damaged O ring.
If you are unsure, it is always best to consult with a professional plumber to identify the problem correctly.
Q: What do I do if my tap rotates or slides on the tap hole?
A: Firstly, check if your rubber seal is missing and if so, install a rubber seal. If your rubber seal is present, then it's likely that the fixing kit is not tight enough. Tighten the kit fully using an adjustable spanner.
Q: What do I do if my tap is splashing?
A: This is likely caused by the water pressure being too high. Reduce the water pressure with a pressure reducing valve or isolation valve.
Q: How much does it cost to replace taps?
A: To completely replace your taps with new ones, it will cost around £25-£150 depending on the type of taps you are installing.
Q: How long does it take to fix a dripping tap?
A: In most cases, fixing a dripping tap is quite straightforward and can be done within an hour or two.