How to fix a dripping tap

changing a dripping tap

For some, the sound of a constant dripping tap is like nails on a chalkboard.

For others, it’s an annoyance. Do you notice water collecting in your sink and you have no idea why this has started? Then it could be time to repair your tap! We help out those who are clueless about how to go about fixing this problem. We’re going to explain the steps in plain English and demonstrate how to fix a dripping tap.

A leaking tap is a blaring noise, but it could also be a big expense. The average home leaks enough cold water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in about three weeks. These cost millions for the supplier.

You can save money by avoiding the hassle and fixing the leak in time.

Fixing a leaking tap is something every homeowner should be able to do. This tutorial will walk you through how to repair a leaking tap. No matter if it’s been a while since you did this or you need to brush up on your knowledge.

How to fix a dripping tap with a few tools?

Before you start the work, make sure you have all your tools ready. Without the right tools, even a small job can turn into a nightmare.

To fix a leaking tap you will need an adjustable spanner and a:

  • Pipe pliers.
  • Adjustable spanner.
  • Allen key.
  • Usually Philips (cross-head screwdrivers) but sometimes you need a flat-head screwdriver.
  • Replacement O-rings.
  • Assorted washers.
  • Rubber washers.
  • Ceramic tap cartridges.
  • Sometimes you need a reseating tool.

Advice before you start:

tap cartridge

To find the right cartridges for your tap, first, it is better to take them out and go to the local plumbing hardware store. There will help you to choose the right cartridges and O-ring.

There are many ceramic discs (replacement cartridges) in the hardware store. The universal one will be good for you.

Doesn’t matter if you have a traditional (compression valve tap) or modern monobloc lever tap! We encourage you to change the ceramic cartridges so you don’t have to deal with leaking taps for a few years.

Quick Tips

The most important part of the job is to find the brass stop tap and turn off the water.

water stop tap

Always put the sink plug in the plughole. The screws are quite small and sometimes can fall into the plughole.

Never put the adjustable spanner or plier in the sink. We know that tools can easily scratch chrome taps!

How to fix a traditional tap

traditional tap

These taps are very easy o fix. We also call compression valve taps.

  1. Find the stopcock and turn off the water supply

You can find it underneath the kitchen tap. Sometimes in the airing cupboard. If you can’t find the stopcock, you have to turn off the main water supply on the street. 

If you are lucky you will have a small isolation valve, which can be found on the pipes underneath the kitchen sink. You can turn the valve crosswise to isolate the water.

  1. Check if any water is coming out from the taps

If you can’t turn off the water don’t even carry on till you find a solution. Water pressure is high in some taps. If there is no more water flow coming out from the other taps now, this means is isolated and you can start the work.

  1. Remove the traditional lever tap hot and cold indicator decorative cap

If you have a single-lever tap, unscrew the decorative cap by hand and you will find the screw underneath the handle cap, be gentle don’t overtighten. Some taps have a red and blue cap, which you have to lift.

A few single lever taps screws can be easily damaged.

4. Remove the traditional tap handle

tap handle

After you removed the decorative hot and cold caps, you should be able to take out the screw on the tap valve. The screw holds the tap head together with the valve.

If the screws are tight you can use WD-40. Also, remove the screw holding the valve cover, and turn it anticlockwise.

  1. Remove the damaged ceramic cartridge

Release pressure by opening the tap. The cartridge is responsible to adjust the flow rate in your taps. 

To remove the cartridge, you have to hold your valve steady with an adjustable spanner and loosen the cartridge anticlockwise.

Don’t panic if water will drip out from the tap body, it is normal.

Check the tap washers. If it’s worn out you can replace it and put it back. If you already bought a new cartridge replace it. 

  1. Check your tap seating

You have to make sure the tap seat is not damaged. You can check this with your finger or a small torch.

Sometimes the tap is dripping because the seating is damaged and not making full contact with the cartridge rubber. If the seating is damaged there is a grinder tool that you can use.

7. How to use a tap reseating tool


With the grinder tool, you can cut off from the tap so it will make a proper seal.

The tool comes with different sizes of heads. You have to find the right one and insert it into the tool. Now turn the reseating tool onto the body, and by pushing down and turning it clockwise at least 5 times, you will cut down from the body. The seating should be smooth now. 

  1. Replace the ceramic disc cartridge

Now that you changed the rubber washer, you can put back the new ceramic disc into the tap. You do everything inverse.

After you put the ceramic disc back, tighten the screw and test it to make sure there are no more leaks!

How do you fix a dripping mixer tap?

If you have modern taps (monobloc taps) your job is even easier.

First, you have to isolate the water so you can safely carry out the work without any major leaks.

The next step is to find the decorative metal cover, which should be a hot and cold plastic inserted into the handle. 

If you take out this decorative hot and cold cover, inside the handle there is a small screw. You have to use a 2.5 mm Allen key.

You have to wobble the tap handle till it comes up. Watch out for the screw not to fall into the drain plug and accidentally lose it.

After you took off the handle from the tap stem, you have to take out the cartridge and replace it with a new one.

How to fix a mixer tap leaking spout

The o ring can leak because of the constant movement and turning of the spout. But this problem can be sorted out by changing the valve o ring to rings at the bottom of the spout.

Here are the steps on how you can fix a leaking tap spout:

The easy way to do this is by unscrewing the small grub screw that is holding the spout in place. This grub screw can be found on the back of the tap. It is a tight space but it can be done with a small 2.5mm Allen key.

But if you can’t manage to carry out the steps above, then follow these instructions:

Step 1: Using a box spanner you have to lose the hexagonal nut underneath the sink. Sometimes you can use an adjustable spanner too. Sometimes the nut is very tight. When you put back the nut do not over-tighten.

Step 2: The next step is to turn the tap towards you and find the grub screw. Remove the screw.

Step 3: You have to carefully remove the spout to access the o ring.

Step 4: To take out the o ring you just need a flathead screwdriver, and slowly slide the slot head screwdriver down the O-ring.

Step 5: Replace the O-rings and put back the spout.

Step 6: Put back the spout, and align it with the marker that you can see on the spout. Insert the grub screw and tighten it up. Now you can tighten up the nuts below the spout o the ring sink.

Step 7: Check for leaks. Now can not have any more leaks.

Do you need help with your plumbing work?

If you think that this job is not for you then it is time to call a professional plumber.

Our fully qualified plumbers can fix your tap very easily.

Call us today and book your plumber

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to fix a dripping tap?

In London, the average cost is between £90- £130 plus materials.

How do I stop my tap from dripping?

You can repair it yourself by changing the cartridge or calling a professional plumber.

What is the cause of a dripping tap?

The cause of a dripping tap is constant use. The rubber seal or rubber washer will wear out and the metal will damage the tap seating. 

Will dripping taps get worse?

Well, it won’t get better with time. The rubber seal is worn out so it will be just worst.

Is a dripping tap dangerous?

Not at all. If your tap leaking into the kitchen sink it is fine for a few days. Unless the water will go down to the floor it can cause major damage.

Is a dripping tap an emergency?

We do not treat this work as an emergency. It can be an emergency if the water will causing damage.

Can a leak increase the water bill?

Yes. It is better to fix the leaks asap. Water drips can increase your bills.

What materials should I buy?

You need to get yourself a replacement cartridge, replacement O ring/ rubber ring. Also assorted tap washer and two ceramic discs.

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