How to fix a leaking tap
Leaving a leaking tap unfixed is super easy to do - you hear it, you complain about it and it wakes you up at 3am. You then say a few select words and then likely go back to sleep again until it wakes you up the next night.
That is why now is the best time to fix your leaking tap! Whether you choose to complete the job yourself or call in the professionals, you will be more than glad when that pesky tap isn’t leaking anymore. Although fixing a tap yourself can be a simple task if you know what you are doing, it can become messy, difficult and expensive if it isn’t done right. This is definitely something to consider when you are looking at fixing your tap.
Why does a tap leak?
There are a few common reasons why you tap is likely leaking:
- The washer on your tap is not the right size.
- The washer on your tap has worn out.
- The washer on your tap has broken.
- The washer on your tap was not installed correctly.
- The jumper valve has worn out.
- Corrosion has occurred on the valve seating.
- The valve seating has been damaged.
- A worn out O-ring.
- The O-ring has come loose.
Taps are generally either installed with rubber or ceramic components that act as a sealant. These parts stop water from continuing to run once the tap is turned off. For reference, if you tap turns a ½ or a ¼ when turned, it likely has a ceramic disc acting as a sealant. If it turns more than a ½, it likely has a rubber washer as a sealant.
What are the different kinds of leaking taps?
Yes, read that right. There are different types of leaking taps, such as:
- If water is flowing from the body and spindle when your tap is on, the O-ring is likely the issue.
- If water is leaking out from the cover plate when your tap is on, the O-ring is likely the issue.
- If your tap is dripping when it is turned off, the washer is likely the cause of concern (and will probably need replacing).
A large majority of leaking taps require a broken washer to be replaced, and we will set out the steps below to fix this. If you are unsure or uncomfortable in any way however, please call in the professionals. Ryan Old Plumbing are more than happy to assist, so give us a call on 0421 185 947 and we can promptly fix your tap.
Steps to fixing a leaking tap
You will require the following supplies to fix your tap
Washers that are the correct size for your tap
Shifting wrench or a set of spanners
Resealing kit or silicone (if required)
Before you begin, make sure you turn your water supply off at the main. This will make sure you don’t have an unnecessary mess to clean up before you even begin. If you do not know where your water main is, it is generally:
- If you live in a house: You will usually find your main in your front yard, in your garden or on the street. As a general rule, if you can locate your water meter your main won’t be too far away.
- If you live in an apartment: You will usually find your main in your laundry or bathroom. If you still can not locate it, speak to your landlord (if you are renting), your building manager or a neighbour to see if they can assist
Once you have located the main and turned off the water, turn on your leaking tap and allow all the water that is in the pipes to drain. To ensure you have drained all the water, turn on a tap at a lower level of your home (e.g. in your garden) to allow all excess water to drain.
Put a plug in the sink so no parts get lost down the drain.
If your tap has a button - the part that usually says ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ - remove it from the top of your tap. It may be a little tricky, so you might require a screwdriver to complete.
Next you have to remove the handle of your tap. This will expose the inside, which is exactly what you need. Most taps will generally require you to unscrew the handle - you may need a spanner or shifting wrench to help you out.
If your tap is the kind that has a skirt or a shroud, you will need to remove this too. It will usually be made of metal. Many skirts and shrouds are connected via silicone, so you may need some pliers or a wrench to help out. Also, if you want to avoid scratching the metal and give yourself extra grip, wrap some gaffer tape around the skirt and a cloth around the tap!
Next step is to remove the tap body, as you want to get to the washer and jumper valve. More than likely, you will need a spanner to unscrew the body and once off, make sure you put it in a safe place.
Once the tap body is removed, you should be able to see the washer and the jumper valve. If you can not see the jumper valve, do not worry - this can come off with the tab bonnet sometimes. Just make sure you know where it is!
If you are finding it difficult to gain access to the washer and jumper valve, use a pair of tweezers or pliers to help get them out.
Now it is time to take the washer and jumper valve to your local hardware store to get some replacements. Tap washers are usually 12mm in size for homes, however they can get as big as 15mm in some instances. Additionally, if you want to avoid accumulation later on, grab some skirt resealant too.
Place the new washer and jumper valve back into the tap.
Now that the new washer and jumper valve are in, you will need to replace the tap bonnet and use your wrench or spanner to tighten it up. Do not place any silicone on yet - wait to test it first.
Now, turn your tap off and turn your water main back on. Make sure you don’t turn the tap off too tightly though.
It’s testing time! Test your tap to see if the leak is still happening and, if not, remove the handle and the skirt and place some silicone on to reseal. Silicone can be messy though, so be careful.
Always remember to call a professional if you need a little extra hand along the way, or fixing your leaking tap just isn’t for you. Ryan Old Plumbing can help on 0421 185 947 today.