A dripping or leaking tap is not only annoying, it will stain your sink or bath. It’s quite easy to fix, simply follow our step-by-step instructions.
Turning Off Water Supply
Before a washer can be replaced, the water supply to the tap must be turned off.
New homes must have small stopcocks in the pipework close to every water outlet. This makes it easy to isolate and work on an individual appliance without disrupting the water supply to the rest of the house.
If these aren’t fitted, shut off the water using the main stopcocks around the house.
For the cold tap in the kitchen, use the stopcock on the rising main, usually found near the point where the water supply enters the house.
A stopcock fitted in one of the pipes leading from the cold storage tank controls the supply to the other cold taps. While a stopcock in the pipe feeding the hot-water tank from the cold-water tank will shut off the hot-water supply.
Remember that so long as the tap stay closed during repair, it isn’t necessary to shut off the water supply when replacing the gland packing or seal.
Fixing A Leaking Tap
If a tap drips from the spout, then the washer needs replacing. On an old-style pillar tap, you will need to remove the metal cover first.
If you can’t unscrew this by hand, use a wrench, but put a cloth between the jaws to prevent causing damage to the tap.
On modern taps, you will have to take off the shrouded head or handle. This may be held in place with a screw hidden under the hot or cold disc, which can be prised out.
If there is no screw, the head might simply pull off or unscrew by continuing to turn past the fully-opened position.
Use a spanner or an adjustable spanner to unscrew (anti-clockwise) the headgear nut and lift out the jumper holding the washer – this might be attached to the head or it might be loose.
Make sure that the spanner is a good fit because if you slip, you could easily damage the sink, washbasin or bath.
The washer might be a push-fit on the jumper, in which case it can be prised off, or it might be held in place with a small nut.
The nut is often badly corroded, so apply some penetrating oil or WD40 before trying to remove it.
If it won’t remove, or if you snap the jumper stem in the attempt, you will need to replace the whole tie jumper/washer assembly.
On more modern taps the seal is made with a rubber O’ ring.
Remove the head/handle as before, unscrew the gland nut and lift out the ring with a small screwdriver.
Rub a small amount of Vaseline or liquid soap on the new ring to lubricate it before pressing it back into place and reassembling the tap.