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Local Plumber Advice: How to fix a Dripping Tap

Dripping taps are a common plumbing issue. With a little instruction, you can learn how to fix the issue. Specialist tools are not usually required, so, if you feel confident, there is no need to call on your local plumber.

A dripping tap wastes water and can be incredibly irritating but, there’s no need to endure the problem. If you have flat and cross head screwdrivers and replacement washers and O-rings, you may be able to solve the issue without calling out your local plumber.

What are the main causes of a dripping tap?

When the tap is turned off, water pressure builds up behind the tap. Over time, this pressure can erode small parts including the washer and valve seat. The erosion causes minute channels to form, through which water can escape.

As Aylesbury plumbers, we are aware that the problem is particularly prevalent in hard water areas such as Buckinghamshire. This is because mineral deposits in the water add to the corrosion.

Sometimes the issue is caused when the wrong sized washer has been used. If it is too small or large for the faucet, it can result in a leak. With older tap fittings, drips can simply be caused by general wear and tear.

Preparing to fix a dripping tap

  1. Turn off the water (the switch or tap to turn off the supply is most commonly found under the sink)
  2. After turning the water off, run the tap, as this will drain the pipes
  3. Have an adjustable spanner, screwdrivers, replacement washers/ O-rings and a soft cloth at hand
  4. Put the plug in, as this removes the risk of small parts disappearing down the plughole

Local plumber advice on taking apart the tap

In the majority of cases, the starting point is to remove the top cover of a tap (which often indicates hot or cold). As experienced Aylesbury plumbers, our advice is to look closely for a small recess. Slide a small, flat edged screwdriver under the recess in order to lift and prise the cap off. Take care not to damage the tap.

With the cap removed, you should see a screw. Use a cross-head screwdriver to loosen this screw. You should now be able to remove the tap head. Sometimes the screw is tightly fixed. In this case, our advice is to spray the fitting with some WD40, leave for 10 minutes and try again. It usually does the trick.

As you take the tap apart, lay the pieces out in order as this will aid the refitting process.

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Identifying the parts of a tap

At the base of the tap, still connected to your sink, is a small shelf called the valve seat. On this sits the washer and above that is the jumper, then the spindle. The O-ring is positioned at the top, sometimes held in place with a gland nut.

Checking each part for damage and wear

As corrosion can cause the valve seat can become indented, put your finger into the fitting to feel whether the surface is smooth and flat. If not, this could be the cause of the problem. A serrated cutter can be used to file this down. You may not have one of these in your tool kit, but you might be able to borrow one from a tool store or local plumber.

The washer should also have a flat and smooth surface. They cost very little, so it is worth replacing them whilst you have the tap in pieces.

It is rare for there to be an issue with the jumper or spindle, so it is up to the O-ring to see if this looks in need of a replacement. If so, roll the existing O-ring off and roll the replacement on.

Reassembling the tap to complete the job

After replacing the washer and/or O-ring, ensure that the parts are returned in the correct order as you fit the tap back together. Firmly tighten up the screw and replace the cap. Hopefully, this repair has been sufficient to resolve the plumbing problem.

If the drip continues or you do not feel confident about undertaking this repair, get in touch on 01296 392349. As your local Aylesbury plumber, Three Counties Plumbing will find a convenient time to pop around and put things right. We are also on hand to undertake other general plumbing services.

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