Dripping taps are a common household annoyance and mean a higher water bill. Although there can be more than one cause, most are simple to fix.
Note: In some parts of Australia it is illegal to work inside pipes or “tap ware” – you will need to call a licenced plumber. If unsure, check with your local water authority.
If you fall into the above category, the following method may be used by a licenced plumber to repair the problem:
- Wrench or spanner.
- A cloth to protect the chrome.
- New washers – there are three types of washer which may need replacing; the O-ring, body washer and/or jumper/tap valve (see diagram).
Note: All are available from your local hardware supplier. When you reach Step 7 you will know what type to take to the hardware to buy.
- A silicon lubricant or Vaseline.
Step 1 – Turn off the water to the dwelling. The water main may be found out in your front yard or inside the bathroom or laundry in the case of a flat or townhouse.
Step 2 – Turn on a tap to clear the water remaining in the pipe.
Step 3 – Put the plug in the basin to prevent any tap parts from going down the drain.
Step 4 – Remove the tap cover or button with a screwdriver to expose the screw (you may also be able to screw it off). The screw is most likely under the hot or cold symbol. Some taps will have screws positioned on the side.
Step 5 – Undo the screw and remove the handle.
Step 6 – If the tap is enclosed with a metal cover (flange) unscrew by hand or use the spanner or wrench. Use the cloth over the cover to protect the chrome finish.
Step 7 – Using the spanner or wrench unscrew the tap bonnet. Completely take out the spindle to see the large body washer, O-ring and the jumper/tap valve (this should fall out). If not, pull it out with the pliers. It is best to replace all three washers, take them to your local hardware store to buy new ones.
Step 8 – You could just replace the tap washer, but it is a good idea to replace all three washers at once. The body washer (usually orange) should lift off quite easily. To remove the O-ring on the spindle fully close the tap until it appears. Then using the pliers (or a screwdriver or a sharp knife), prise or cut it off. The new O-ring should simply stretch and roll on to the spindle. Replace the tap washer. Refit the bonnet and spindle. Note: Make sure you do not over tighten the nuts.
Step 9 – Before re-assembling the tap lubricate the spindle and the threaded areas with a silicon lubricant or Vaseline, turn the tap ¾ off, and turn on the water at the mains.
Step 10 – Once the water is running through, turn the tap off slowly using only gentle finger pressure. Over-tightening causes a lot of damage to the tap washer and seat. If the washer and/or other components have been fitted correctly, there should be no more leaks or drips and you should be able to turn the tap on and off with no effort.
Note: If the tap continues to leak, it may need to be re-seated. A licenced plumber can reseat a tap.
To understand how this is done, please see A Guide to Reseating a Tap.A Guide to Fixing a Leaking Tap,