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Complete DIY Guide to Fixing a Leaking Tap and Regular Maintenance

A leaking tap can be an annoying and wasteful problem in any household. Not only does it waste water, but the constant drip can also drive you crazy! Fortunately, fixing a leaking tap is often a straightforward DIY task that doesn't require extensive plumbing knowledge. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the steps to diagnose and repair a leaking tap, along with some frequently asked questions to address common concerns.

Compression Taps:

Are common in older plumbing systems and have a relatively simple design. They feature separate hot and cold water handles that you turn to open or close the tap. When a compression tap starts leaking, it's often because the washer has become worn out or damaged, causing water to seep through even when the tap is closed. Fixing a leaking compression tap typically involves disassembling the tap, inspecting the washer and valve seat for damage, and replacing any worn-out parts.

fixing a leaking tap
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Ceramic Disc Taps: 

These taps have a single lever to control both temperature and flow. If water is leaking around the base of the tap, it's usually due to a worn-out cartridge.

fixing a leaking tap
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Diagnosing the Problem

Before you start fixing the tap, it's essential to identify the source of the leak. Separate hot and cold handles characterize compression taps and rely on a compression mechanism to control water flow. Here's how you can diagnose the issue:

Visual Inspection: 

Turn off the water supply to the tap and check for any visible signs of leaking around the handles or spout.

Operational Check: 

Turn the tap handles on and off to see if you can pinpoint where the leak is coming from. If water continues to drip from the spout when the tap is off, the issue likely lies with the internal components.

Fixing Tap Problems

Fixing tap problems can vary depending on the specific issue you're encountering. Here's a general guide:

Dripping Tap: 

If your tap is dripping, it could be due to a worn-out washer or O-ring. You'll need to turn off the water supply to the tap, disassemble it, and inspect the washer and O-ring for damage. Replace any worn-out parts.

Leaky Tap: 

If your tap is leaking from the base or around the handles, it could be due to a faulty cartridge or valve seat. You may need to replace the cartridge or reseat the valve.

Low Water Pressure: 

Low water pressure can be caused by various factors such as mineral buildup or a partially closed shut-off valve. Clean out any mineral deposits in the aerator or check if the shut-off valve is fully open.

Noisy Tap: 

If your tap is making noise when turned on or off, it could be due to loose parts or a water hammer. Tighten any loose parts and consider installing a water hammer arrestor to reduce noise caused by water pressure fluctuations.

Stuck Tap: 

If your tap is difficult to turn on or off, it could be due to mineral buildup or a worn-out cartridge. Try cleaning the tap and lubricating the moving parts. If the problem persists, you may need to replace the cartridge.

Hot/Cold Water Issues: 

If your tap is not delivering the correct temperature of the water, it could be due to a problem with the mixing valve or the water heater. Check the temperature settings on your water heater and adjust them as needed. If the issue persists, you may need to replace the mixing valve.

Rusty Tap: 

If your tap is showing signs of rust or corrosion, it's important to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage. You may need to replace the affected parts or the entire tap if the damage is extensive.

Steps on Fixing Tap Problems

Before you begin, gather the necessary supplies. You'll likely need an adjustable wrench, screwdrivers (flathead and Phillips), replacement parts such as washers or O-rings (if needed), and a plumber's tape.

Step 1: Turn Off the Water Supply

As with compression taps, start by turning off the water supply to the tap.

fixing a leaking tap
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Step 2: Remove the Tap Handle

Use a screwdriver to remove any screws or caps covering the handle. Once the handle is exposed, use the screwdriver to remove the screw holding it in place. Carefully lift off the handle to access the cartridge

fixing a leaking tap

fixing a leaking tap
Photo taken from

Step 3: Replace the Cartridge

Inspect the cartridge for damage or signs of wear. If the cartridge is worn out, you'll need to replace it with a new one. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for removing and installing the cartridge, as the process can vary depending on the tap model.

fixing a leaking tap
Photo taken from
fixing a leaking tap
Photo taken from

fixing a leaking tap
Photo taken from

Step 4: Reassemble the Tap

Once the new cartridge is in place, reassemble the tap in the reverse order of disassembly. Make sure everything is tightened securely.

fixing a leaking tap
Photo taken from

fixing a leaking tap
Photo taken from

Step 5: Test the Tap

Turn the water supply back on and test the tap to ensure the leak has been fixed. If the leak persists, double-check that the cartridge is installed correctly and consider seeking professional assistance.

Tools and Materials You'll Need

Before you get started, gather the following tools and materials:

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Screwdriver (flathead and Phillips)

  • Replacement washers

  • Plumber's tape or pipe thread sealant

  • Towels or rags to catch drips and protect surfaces

Regular Maintenance for Taps

Regular maintenance for taps is essential to ensure they function properly and avoid common problems such as leaks, drips, and mineral buildup. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to maintain your taps:


1. Clean Taps Regularly

Regular cleaning helps prevent mineral deposits, soap scum, and other debris from accumulating on your taps. Use a mild cleaning solution and a soft cloth or sponge to wipe down the taps and remove any buildup. For stubborn deposits, you can soak a cloth in vinegar and wrap it around the tap for a few hours to dissolve the buildup.

2. Inspect for Leaks

Periodically check your taps for leaks or drips. Even small leaks can waste a significant amount of water over time. If you notice any leaks, identify the source and address it promptly by replacing worn-out washers or other components.

3. Maintain Proper Water Pressure

High water pressure can put excessive stress on your taps and plumbing system, leading to leaks and other issues. Use a pressure gauge to test the water pressure from your taps periodically. If the pressure is too high, consider installing a pressure regulator to maintain a safe level.

4. Lubricate Moving Parts

Apply a small amount of plumber's grease or silicone lubricant to the moving parts of your taps, such as handles and valve stems. This will help keep them operating smoothly and prevent sticking or binding.

5. Check Seals and Gaskets

Inspect the seals and gaskets on your taps for signs of wear or damage. If you notice any deterioration, replace them promptly to prevent leaks.

6. Remove Aerators for Cleaning

Remove the aerators from your taps periodically and clean them to remove any buildup of sediment or debris. Soak the aerators in vinegar to dissolve mineral deposits, then rinse them thoroughly before reinstalling.

7. Prevent Freezing in Cold Weather

In cold climates, take precautions to prevent outdoor taps from freezing during winter months. Disconnect hoses, drain any remaining water from the taps, and consider installing insulated covers or heat tape to protect outdoor pipes from freezing.

 8. Address Hard Water Issues

If you have hard water, consider installing a water softener to reduce mineral buildup on your taps and plumbing fixtures. Alternatively, you can use a descaling solution periodically to remove mineral deposits.

9. Schedule Professional Maintenance

Consider scheduling periodic maintenance checks with a licensed plumber to inspect your taps and plumbing system. A professional plumber can identify potential issues early and perform tasks such as flushing the system to remove sediment buildup.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I know if my tap needs repairing or replacing?

If your tap leaks from the spout, it's likely a repairable issue with the washer or cartridge. However, if the tap is leaking from the base or showing signs of corrosion, it may be time to replace the entire tap.

Can I use plumber's tape instead of pipe thread sealant?

Yes, plumber's tape (also known as Teflon tape) can be used to seal threaded connections and prevent leaks. Apply a few wraps of tape around the threads before reassembling the tap.

How often should I replace the washers in my taps?

Washers in compression taps typically need to be replaced every 6-12 months, depending on usage and water quality. If you notice leaks or dripping, it's a good idea to check and replace the washers as needed.

Why is my tap still leaking after replacing the washer/cartridge

If the leak persists after replacing the washer or cartridge, there may be other underlying issues with the tap or plumbing system. Consider seeking professional help to diagnose and fix the problem.

Can I fix a leaking tap myself, or do I need to hire a plumber?

In many cases, fixing a leaking tap is a straightforward DIY task that doesn't require professional plumbing skills. However, if you're unsure or uncomfortable with the process, it's always best to seek help from a licensed plumber.



Fixing a leaking tap is a relatively simple and cost-effective way to prevent water waste and save money on your utility bills. By following the steps outlined in this guide and addressing common concerns with the help of the FAQs section, you can tackle this common household problem with confidence. Remember to turn off the water supply before beginning any repairs and take your time to ensure everything is reassembled correctly. If you encounter any difficulties or the leak persists, don't hesitate to seek professional assistance. Calling a professional plumber to handle tap maintenance or repairs offers several benefits compared to attempting to do it yourself.




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