How to Fix a Dripping Tap

How to Fix a Dripping Tap

One of the most annoying problems of everyday life is a dripping tap. That constant dripping – surely that is easy to fix?

Using your handyman skills don’t you just need to change the tap washer?

A dripping tap is not always caused by the washer. Depending on the type of tap you have it may be the O-ring, which stops water oozing from the spout. There may be damage to the valve seat, which the washer closes on to when the tap is closed. When the tap is on, the water flow can wear away the valve seat as it passes underneath the washer and through the tap.

So can you fix it yourself, or should you call for help?

Firstly, you need to turn off the water supply. Then take apart the tap and find the problem to see if you can fix it yourself – or if you need a plumber.

Fixing it is usually straightforward, but not always – not all taps are the same. You will need a spanner and a screwdriver and some spare parts that fit your tap. Washers can be found at any local DIY store, spares may need more research. 

Finding and Fixing the Problem

First look at your tap. Is it a traditional tap that turns on by twisting the handle round. Or is it a ceramic disc valve (modern mixer taps) where you can only part-turn the tap?

Before you start to investigate your drip you will need to turn off the water. Look for the hot and cold valves under the sink and switch the correct valve off. Always check that you can switch it off and on again, water valves aren’t used often and can stick. Turn on the tap to let any excess drain out. This will avoid a watery surprise when you take the tap apart.

Now it’s a case of locating the fault, replacing the part and putting the tap back together again. It can help to put the plug in the sink, so you don’t lose anything important while you work.

If you are feeling confident the next steps are as follows:

Fixing Traditional Taps

  1. Remove the cap at the top of the tap to reveal a screw beneath. Undo this with a cross-headed screwdriver using a lubricant to help if needed. Lift off the tap handle. You may also need to unscrew a metal shroud.
  2. Undo the nut using an adjustable spanner. Lift out the tap stem and replace the washer that sits at the bottom.
  3. Put the tap back together again (don’t over tighten) and test it after putting the water back on and turning the tap on gently.

If the valve seat is damaged then it may e time to seek expert advice. Go to to find a local expert to support you.

Fixing Ceramic Disc Valves

Dismantle to see if washer seal is the issue, replace if required. If the seal seems good, then note the model of the valve/cartridge when you have it out of the tap so it is easy to source. 

  1. Remove the tap lever or handle. This can mean undoing a small screw with an Allen key or screwdriver. This is usually located under the cap. Unscrew the metal shroud if there is one.
  2. Undo the nut that holds the cartridge in place using an adjustable spanner.
  3. Replace the cartridge.
  4. Put the tap back together again (don’t over tighten) and test it after putting the water back on and turning the tap on gently.

Also remember to check the O-rings, which are often the cause of a leaking tap in a ceramic disc valve.

When to Get Help

As with any DIY task everything can be fine until things take an unexpected turn. You might struggle to turn off the water or correctly identify different parts of the tap you are working with. It can be difficult to take unfamiliar parts apart and put them together – and you may not have all the tools, skills, and knowledge you need for the job.

That’s why it can be useful to get some help. A local plumber might be the answer and you can find a suitable tradesman in your area through In capable hands, the job will take only an hour or two to fix and you can rest assured that the job will be done to a high standard and you won’t have to think about it anymore. 

You can breathe a sigh of relief and no longer be bothered by the annoying sound of that dripping tap!