A dripping tap is not only annoying (it’s one of the top 10 sounds most likely to disturb sleep, according to a recent survey), but it also wastes water – an unbelievable 5,500 litres per year.
When it comes to fixing a dripping tap, it very much depends on the type of tap you have. For traditional taps it’s usually a question of replacing the tap washer. On the other hand, for modern taps that turn on to full flow in a quarter turn, it is an internal cartridge that’s either dirty or damaged.
In both cases, you’ll need to switch off the water supply in the first instance, this way you can get into the insides of the tap without being pleasantly surprised by a cold shower in your face. This will usually involve removing the head or handle and then the headgear nut with a suitably-sized spanner. This nut may be stiff so it’s important to keep a firm grip on the tap to ensure that it doesn’t turn – this could damage the basin or the pipework underneath. If it’s really stiff, a few squirts of WD40 should help.
When the insides of the tap have been exposed, you’ll then be able to remove the tap washer in a traditional tap. This will either prise off with a screwdriver or may require a nut to be unscrewed. The old washer can be replaced by matching a new one, found easily at most hardware stores. Turn on the water and the drip should be fixed!
There are many different makes and models of modern taps and ceramic cartridges. These work in different ways but always consist of a cartridge with two parts that must fit together perfectly to ensure a good seal – any dirt or scratches will cause a leak. Dirt can be carefully cleaned, but if the cartridge is scratched then you’ll need to get a new one.