How To Fix A Leaking Tap?

Picture of a leaking tap | Letsgo TNT Gas & Heating Engineers

How To Fix A Leaking Tap?

A leaking tap can be a seriously annoying scenario in daily life. Not only does a leaking tap sound loud, but a leak of one drip per second could lead to an annual increase in your water bill by 6%. Checkout this article for further information.

One day, you’ll realise your water bills are rising and what you are paying for is simply draining out. Repairs might involve some up-front expenses but save you money in the long run. If you have some handyman skills, you can fix the leaking tap yourself. This blog post is for all of you who wish to fix this maintenance issue on their own.

Tools you’ll need for a DIY fix are:

  • An adjustable spanner;
  • A cross-headed screwdriver;
  • Replacement cartridge; (need to know what make of tap it is)
  • Lubricant.

What Are Common Cause of A Leaking Tap?

A leaking tap is a common problem in many households. Not only can they be annoying but they can also be costly if left unchecked. So what are some common causes for a leaking tap and how can you fix them?

There are several common causes of a leaking tap:

1: Damaged Cartridges:  control the flow and temperature of water coming out of the tap, so are probably the most important components. They can become worn out over time or damaged by a buildup of sediment. All cartridges are different so you will need the make of the tap to get the right one. If you are not comfortable with this, it’s always best to call in a professional plumber.

2: High water pressure: can affect the flow of water in your pipes which could cause water to become backed up and if it can’t find an outlet, it will start leaking out of your taps. A plumber can test the water pressure in your home and if necessary, he can fit a pressure reducing valve to control the pressure going into the home.

3: Pipe issues:  including cracks or corrosion can lead to fluctuations in water pressure which could lead to a leaking tap.


tap cartridge


How to Fix a Leaking Tap

A leaking tap is one of the most common of household plumbing problems.  Do not ignore a leaking tap issue as it will lead to future problems and a huge amount of water loss that will end up costing you more on your water bill than it would to call out a plumber to fix it.

Fortunately, the repair is easy if you have the right tools.

  • First thing to do is shut off the mains water supply to avoid any further surprises.
  • Remove the knobs on the tap, they can be different for each model. Use a small flat-head screwdriver to remove the decorative parts from the knobs.
  • Remove the stem. Use some lubricant to unscrew and take the handle off the stem. Use the spanner to loosen the packing nut and remove the stem.
  • If there is damage, replace the part. If not, inspect the O-ring and the washer. Loosened or damaged washer and O-rings can also leak ensure that you replace them. They need to be the correct size otherwise you will have another leak on your hands.
  • Once you have replaced the washer you just need to put it all back the same way as taking it out but in reverse order. Turn the water back on slowly and check to make sure there are no leaks.


Replacing A Tap Cartridge

First of all, there are a few different types of tap cartridges.


A full turn cartridge has a rubber washer on the bottom to control the water flow and normally has a crosshead handle or a knob to open and close the valve.

The handles are concealed by a cap in the centre that needs to be unscrewed to remove. The screw holding it on sits in the centre of the tap head and is normally a crosshead screw. Ensure that you get the same cartridge to replace the old one. Make and model of tap is needed.

To replace it, you would turn off the mains cold water or if there is an isolation valve under the sink, you can use a flathead screwdriver to turn it off. Open the tap to let the water out.

Then remove the cap to access the cartridige. Remove the cartridge with an adjustable spanner then insert the new cartridge and tighten it with an adjustable spanner.

Put the cap back on, close the tap, turn the water on slowly and check for leaks.

full turn tap cartridge

A quarter turn tap cartridge has a ceramic disc to control the water flow. These tap valves have a lever handle and are kept on with a small grub screw on the side.

The screws are sometimes covered with a cap and a grub screw. The typically size is a 2.5mm hex allen key.


quarter turn tap cartridge

To replace it, isolate the cold water then don’t forget to drain the water in the tap. Remove the cap and grub screw. Remove the collar with a wrench(might want to put some masking tape over the collar).

Then remove the cartridge with an adjustable spanner. Replace it with the same type cartridge. Do not use just any cartridge as it won’t work. Like for like replacement is essential! Make and model of tap is required.


Single-lever mixer tap cartridges also use ceramic discs but are a lot different to quarter-turn tap valves.

This type of cartridge has two water pipe connections and they mix the water in a single cartridge. The handles are levers and are kept on with a small grub screw and are typically used on kitchen taps and bathroom basin taps.

To replace one of these you would turn off the mains water and let the water drain out of the tap. Remove the grub screw that keeps the lever handle attached to the tap. Remove the handle by pulling it off.

Unscrew the shroud then the cartridge will come out by lifting it. Replace the cartridge and do everything else in reverse order. Don’t forget to close the tap before turning the mains water back on again to test for leaks.


single lever mixer tap cartridge




A leaking tap can be annoying and costly if left unchecked. Knowing what the main cause of a leaking tap is and how to fix them can help save time and money in the long run. If you’re feeling confident enough to attempt DIY repairs, make sure that all safety precautions are taken into consideration before starting any work on your own tap!

We hope that you got some value from this blog post and will share it with friends and family. If you are in need of a local plumber that can fix your leaking tap, please get in touch.

Download Our Guide

New Client?

Get 1st Exam
For Free