How To Repair A Dripping Tap

A continually dripping tap generally indicates that the tap’s washer needs replacement, although a damaged valve seating can also be the culprit.  If you have a dripping mixer tap, you should change both washers.

  1. In order to access the washer, you will need to remove the tap headgear.  First of all, turn off the water supply, either at the mains, or underneath the taps at the service valve. 
  2. Ensure that the tap is turned on fully.  A good tip at this point is to put the plug into the plughole.  This will prevent any small components from the tap being lost down the waste pipe whilst you are making repairs.
  3. If the tap is a non-rising spindle type tap, using a flat head screwdriver unscrew the cover or pry it off.  The retaining screw is now exposed.  Remove it and put it safely aside.  Now remove the tap head.
  4. With a rising spindle tap you will need to lever off the index disc.  This is located in the centre of the tap handle.  Remove the retaining screw to release the handle.  Remove the metal shroud from the headgear nut, using an adjustable spanner.
  5. Take a spanner and unfasten the larger headgear nut.  This may be tricky if the nut is stiff, but do not try to force it, as you may damage the associated pipework and cause a leak.  The application of some penetrating oil around the joint may help.  Several applications may be required, and you must be sure to allow at least 10 minutes for the oil to soak in completely before trying again.
  6. Inspect the valve seat inside the tap.  If this is in poor condition, the seal between the washer and valve seat will still be leaky, even with a replacement washer.  You can solve this easily by using a combined washer and seating set.  You can buy these from all good hardware and DIY shops.      
  7. Now you are ready to replace the washer.  Use a screwdriver to pry off the damaged washer.  There may be a small nut securing it in place, and you will need to unscrew it using a spanner.  As before, use penetrating oil if the nut is stiff, and then remove the washer.
  8. Finally fit the new washer.  Use either silicone gel or Vaseline grease to coat the threads on the base of the tap, and then reassemble the unit.



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Alison Page

About Alison Page

Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at

Alison Page

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