How to stop a dripping tap 9 years ago

How to stop a dripping tap

What's more annoying than being kept awake at night because of a dripping tap? Our latest five-minute DIY read could help you out.


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Why should you go to the trouble of getting in a plumber to stop a leaking tap when you can do it yourself for little to nothing? Here’s how to mend that dripping disaster in just five minutes. 

What you’ll need:

A screwdriver
An adjustable spanner
Some nice new washers

1: Catch it earl

Dripping taps don’t just cure themselves… and if they do then you might want to check the water quality. The longer you leave a dripping tap the worst it will get so catch it early.

2: Turn off the water

Check under the sink to see if your pipe has an isolation ball valve (IBV). If it does, then count yourself lucky as this makes life easier. Just turn the valve to a horizontal position to turn it off. If you don’t have an IBV then you’re going to have to turn the water off at the stopcock (the water mains). This should look a bit like a normal tap so just turn it off to prevent any serious-gushing-water-related mishaps.

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3: Drain the silver metallic snake

The next step is to drain the tap. This couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is turn the tap on until water stops flowing from it. Then put in the stopper to stop yourself from losing any hardware down the plughole.

4. Determine which type of tap you're working with

It'll either be a regular older tap, or a more modern ceramic disk tap (a bit like so). If it's older, follow steps 5a-6a. If it's ceramic disk, steps 5b-6b are for you.

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For older-style taps

5 (a): Remove the twisty bit

Now it’s time to remove the tap head (the twisty bit). This is easily done with a flat-head screwdriver. Yes, there are loads of different types of taps but they all work in the same manner. Prise the cover off the centre of the handle and remove the head gear-nut with your adjustable spanner - be careful as some excess water might rush out of the tap.

6 (a): Change the washer

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Your tap is more than likely dripping because of a faulty washer. Now that you have the head gear-nut in your hand you can remove the old rubber washer and replace it with a new one. There are a variety of different sizes available so make sure to get the one that fits your tap.

For ceramic disk taps

5 (b): Remove the cartridge

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Take your flat-head screwdriver or knife and prise off the cap. It's located somewhere on the handle of the tap, so look closely. Remove the headgear, which reveals the cartridge and rubber seal beneath.

6 (b): Inspect the cartridge and seal, and replace if necessary

Take both off to check if they're faulty. The cartridge will need to be screwed off carefully with the wrench. The problem is almost certain to be coming from here. You may need to replace the rubber seal, or the cartridge, or both, but there's a chance that some grit or dirt has got in there and caused your dripping tap. If the wear and tear isn't obvious, some trial and error will work a treat.

Wrapping up

7: Reassemble the tap

You reassemble the tap in the same way that you took it apart, which should be easy enough to do.

8: Water, water everywhere…

Now it’s time to turn the water back on. Turn the IBV back to a vertical position or turn the stopcock back on, then test the tap. Your tap should now be running smoothly. Turn it on and off a few times to see if it’s still leaking.

9: Sleep soundly at night once again