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How Do I Fix A Leaking Tap?

Even a tap that leaks slowly could add as much as £100 onto the cost of your water bill in a year. Find out how to repair a leaky tap.

Please note, we can only give you basic advice on this page to do the job yourself. Make sure you use the right tools and protective equipment to avoid hurting yourself or damaging your home.

Simply follow these easy steps and make sure you have the right tools to get started.

You may need:

  • An adjustable spanner
  • Slot/cross-head screwdriver
  • Scissors
  • Replacement cartridge/washers/O-rings
  • Stopcock/Isolation valve

Some taps use washers while others have ceramic disks. To find out the type of tap you have, just turn it. If it only rotates a quarter or a half, then it’s more than likely ceramic. If you can turn it further, it’s likely to be traditional.

  1. Turn your water off at the stopcock or isolation valve and run the tap until no more water comes out. Read our FAQ on turning off your water supply for more information if you’re unsure.
  2. The screw holds the tap together, so you’ll need to loosen it to get inside and make any repairs. It’s normally hidden underneath the hot and cold decorative caps on top of the tap or under the hot-cold indicator on single lever taps. Usually, these can be unscrewed by hand or you can gently pop them off with a slot-head screwdriver. Top Tip: If you put the plug in the sink before unscrewing anything, you won’t lose anything important down the drain!
  3. You’ll need to take off the caps, screws and tap’s head (the bit you turn to use the water). There may also be a metal cover around the neck of the tap protecting the valve; this will need to come off too. If you lay them by the side of the sink in the order you removed them, it’ll be easier for you to put the tap back together again.
  4. Replacing a ceramic disk: once you take off the metal cover, you’ll be able to see the valve. Grip it with your spanner and turn until it’s loose enough to be removed. Pop the replacement cartridge in and tighten back up. Put your tap back together.
  5. Replacing a washer: use the adjustable spanner to grip and turn the valve until loose enough that it can be removed. Unscrew/slide the washer off and put a new one in. Put the valve back in, tighten it up and put your tap back together.
  6. Replacing an O-ring: this is the bigger washer at the bottom of your tap spout. Unscrew the grub screw at the base and then lift the spout carefully off. You’ll then be able to see the O-rings at the base. Use a flat-head screwdriver to loosen the O-ring and slide off, or just snip it off with scissors. Roll the replacement on, then pop the spout back on and tighten the grub screw.
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