An expert guide to repairing a leaky tap

August 14, 2015

A leaky tap is annoying, but easily fixed. Here's an expert guide and some extra tips.

An expert guide to repairing a leaky tap

What you will need

  • Two wrenches
  • Replacement O-ring or packing
  • Fibre or Teflon tape (if required)

Before you begin

  • Turn off the household water.
  • Turn on the tap to empty the pipes, then turn it off once the pipes are drained.

1. Tighten the gland nut

  • Remove the indicator disc, retaining screw, handle and shroud.
  • Grip the headgear with a wrench and use another wrench to tighten the gland nut joining the spindle to the headgear by half a turn.
  • Slip the handle back on and check the tap.
  • If the spindle still leaks, tighten the gland nut by another half turn and check again.

2. Replace the packing

  • If the spindle still leaks, loosen the gland nut and lift it out.
  • Note the type of packing — it could be string, hemp, graphite or a rubber O-ring — and replace it with new packing.
  • In the case of string packing, replace it with fibre or PTFE (Teflon) tape.
  • Then reassemble the tap.

Extra tips

  •  Keep the plug in the sink while you're taking apart a tap or sink fixture to avoid losing lots of small parts down the drain. If your sink's plug is missing, place a saucer upside down over the drain opening or plug up the hole with a thick dish cloth.
  • If a new washer will not stop a tap from dripping, you may need to grind the valve seat smooth. The seat is the ring of metal that the washer presses against to close off the water supply. Over time, the seat can become corroded, allowing water to escape. Buy a tap-reseating tool from a hardware store. This screws into the tap body and enables you to grind the seat smooth again.
  • Take old tap parts with you when searching for replacements. There are hundreds of different types available, so it can be hard to find exactly what you want. For taps made overseas, the importer is probably the only source.
  • Abandon repairing an old tap if you can't find suitable replacement parts easily. You'll save time and usually get a better tap if you replace an obsolete model with a new one, many of which are quite affordable. It will look better, too.
  • For top tap repairs, invest in the right tools and equipment. Avoid multi-grip pliers unless they have padded jaws, and also poorly fitting wrenches – they will damage your fittings, making them harder to grip the next time.

Follow these extra tips and expert guide to help make your next tap repair job flow smoothly.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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