How to Fix a Leaking Tap

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How to Fix a Leaking Tap

A leaking tap is more than just an annoying noise inside a house. Unless homeowners address the issue quickly, the seemingly small amounts of water dripping from the tap add up over time. Aside from wasting water, the issue may also lead to a large repair bill down the road. Fortunately, consumers can attempt to fix a leaking tap on their own in an effort to save a bit of time and money.



Before attempting to fix a leaking tap, take any necessary preparations or steps to ensure the task is as safe and effective as possible. Such preparations often include turning off the water underneath the sink, closing the sink drain and placing a piece of cloth over it to collect any dropped parts, and using duct tape to tape the wrench jaws shut to avoid scratching surfaces while working.

Tools and supplies

Having the right tools and/or supplies for the task makes it much easier. Consumers will appreciate knowing that this task generally does not require too many tools or supplies. Here are some essential tools and supplies for the task:

  • Screwdriver (Phillips or flathead)
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Duct tape
  • Replacement O-rings or washers
  • Cloths for cleaning and holding supplies


Taking the faucet apart

In order to clearly identify the leak and where it comes from, the first step is to dismantle the faucet. There are four main types of faucets: ceramic disk, compression, cartridge, and ball type. To get started, remove any decorative components on the handle knobs using a flathead screwdriver. Then, it is time to unscrew the screw under the knob that connects the faucet's stem and handle.


The best way to reach the stem is to loosen the packing nut with a wrench. The next step is to remove the stem, a task that varies depending on the specific faucet. For example, some stems come off easily, while others twist off from the valve. After removing the stem, inspect the part for any damage. Remove any debris with distilled vinegar and a soft cloth.


Check O-rings and washers

If the stem is in good condition and the faucet leak continues, the next step is to check the faucet's O-rings and washers inside the valve seat. It is not uncommon for these components to leak. Start by taking any washers and O-rings out and replacing them with new one.


Ensuring the right fit for the O-rings and/or washers is essential to ensuring the leak does not return. If it is unclear whether there is an exact fit, one method is to check the seat to determine whether the sides fit into a cone-shaped or flat washer. Another option is to take the parts to a hardware store so that they can be matched.



After locating the source of the water leak, it is time to reassemble the various parts of the faucet. Depending on the type of faucet and its components, this task may be relatively easy or more complex. The best way to reassemble the faucet is to start by reversing the steps taken to identify the leak. For example, since the O-ring and washer removal comes last, it is helpful to replace those components first. After ensuring that the O-rings and washers fit securely in place, the next step is to reattach the faucet's stem. Then, it is time to replace the packing nut, screw, and handle or handles.


Final steps

Hopefully, the previous steps revealed the source of the leak. An easy way to make sure is to turn the faucet back on, keeping an eye on the original leak location. If the leak persists, Popular Mechanics suggests looking for corrosion in the faucet's valve seat. This component can leak near the spout if corrosion builds up. Other possible problem areas include loose components, worn or damaged seals, an improperly installed or replaced item, or faulty plumbing.


How to buy faucets and related parts on eBay

Sellers on taps" and "tapware". Before making a final decision, be aware of various sellers' policies.

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