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Fix a Dripping Tap

By: Alan Cole - Updated: 18 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Leaking Taps Fixing Taps Dripping Taps

Most dripping taps just need a new washer which means they are very easy and cheap to fix. Because a dripping tap is not only irritating but also wastes water it’s best to fix it as soon as you can. Read on to find out how.

Dripping Taps
By dripping tap we mean a tap that drips after you have turned it off. The cause of this is usually a damaged or obsolete washer.

Tools
  • Adjustable spanner.
  • Screwdrivers.
  • Cloths.
  • Wire wool.
Be Prepared
 tap1Turn off the water supply. You can usually find the stop cock under or near the kitchen sink. Open the tap to drain the water off. You might want to put the plug in at this point so you don’t lose anything down the plug hole. You will also be able to tell at this point if you have turned the water off correctly if you are in doubt. If it gushes out then it has not been turned off properly. If it trickles out then the supply is off.

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Step By Step
tap2 Capstan Head Tap – With these traditional taps just remove the cover to reveal the hexagonal nut of the headgear. Unscrew the nut to reveal the jumper which holds the washer. Fit a new washer or a complete washer and jumper unit. You can find all of these at your DIY or hardware store.

20px break tap2Shrouded Head Tap - With the more modern taps you pull off the head shroud or remove the central fixing screw holding it in place. You will need a screwdriver for this. Once you have done that the head screw is removed like the traditional capstan head tap revealing the jumper and washer.

Top Tips
If the nut is stiff you can put a spanner on the nut below the sink which holds the tap in place. This will help you get the top nut off which is usually brass. Once you have levered the washer off you should clean everything thoroughly with a cloth and wire wool. Gunk and grease is usually the cause of the washer corroding or coming loose and the cause of the leak in the first place.

 washers

Washers
Make sure you buy the right sized washer. Basins and sink taps usually have ½ inch washers. Bath taps usually have ¾ inch washers. You can measure the previous washer and mechanism to make sure you buy the right one. An important point to remember is to never switch the water supply back on if you have removed the washer.

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Replacing a Tap
If the problem is more serious, for example there is damage to the threads on the stem of your tap, you may need to replace the entire tap. This is an easy job as well.

 ta5Removing The Old Tap - Disconnect the water supply. Drain off the water. Unscrew the tap connector which is screwed to the tail of the tap and use a spanner to undo the back nut. Lift the tap out of its place.

20px break Attaching A New Tap - Apply a little bit of non setting mastic to the underside of the new tap. This will help it bed in. Attach the plastic bedding washer that fits between the tap and top of the sink. Put the tap in place. Add a fibre washer on the tail of the stem of the tap from beneath. For extra safety you can also surround the hole with silicone sealing compound.20px breaktap Replace the back nut. Make sure the spout is straight. A top hat washer may be needed when fitting onto thinner sinks or baths. This will ensure that the back nut can be tightened properly. Put a new fibre washer on the tap connector and screw it to the tap tail. Make sure everything is nice and tight and then turn on the water. Check for any leaks and retighten if required.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
My husband replaced our kitchen sink washer in the tap, but now you need to turn the tap 8 times before water comes out or to close the tap. It's driving me mad!
Rene - 13-Aug-12 @ 2:07 PM
The stop cock you refer to is often just a screw in the water line (you'll find it in both hot and cold). The groove in the screw should face in the same direction as the pipe. To turn it off, turn the screw 90- degrees. This should stop the flow and you should find that it's easy to move. After that you can drain the water from the tap before starting work. Make sure you turn the screw again when you're done!
Dave - 6-Jun-12 @ 11:34 AM
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