Fixing a Dripping Faucet

The steady drip-drip of a leaky faucet is not just annoying; it’s a real problem that can add up to your water bill. Did you know a single dripping faucet could waste gallons of water over time? This article offers practical steps to help you fix that troublesome tap and stop the wastage.

Read on to learn how to tackle this common household issue with confidence!

Understanding the Causes of a Dripping Faucet

Pinpointing the origin of a persistent drip is critical, as it may stem from an array of issues within your tap’s mechanism. From worn internal components to irregular water pressure, each cause demands a specific solution to restore your faucet’s efficiency and halt wasteful water flow.

A Damaged Cartridge

Cartridge faucets are prone to leaks when their internal cartridges become worn out or damaged. This type of faucet has a cartridge that controls water flow and temperature as you turn the handle.

If you notice your faucet dripping, it might be time to inspect this part closely for any signs of wear and tear.

Fixing a leaky faucet often involves removing and replacing the faulty cartridge with a new one. First, shut off the water supply valves under the sink to stop the water flow.

Use an Allen key or Phillips-head screwdriver to remove the faucet handle – this may involve taking off a decorative cap or escutcheon plate first. Locate and carefully extract the damaged cartridge from inside the faucet body; sometimes, you’ll need needle-nose pliers if there’s a stubborn retaining clip.

With precision, install a fresh compatible cartridge into your tap, then reassemble all parts before turning back on the water supply.

Broken Washers

Broken washers are a frequent culprit in creating leaky taps, particularly within compression tap systems. These rubber washers form a seal that prevents water from leaking out of the tap when turned off.

Over time, they can corrode or wear down from constant friction against the valve seat. This deterioration leads to tiny cracks that allow water to escape, resulting in a persistent drip.

To fix a leaky tap caused by washer damage, you’ll need to disassemble parts of the fixture. First, shut off the water supply and then carefully remove the handle using utility knives and screwdrivers if necessary.

Inspect for rubber washer damage once you access the stem or cartridge inside the tap body. If they appear cracked or worn out, this is your sign: you need to replace them with new ones that match in size and shape precisely—and don’t forget plumber’s grease for ease of reassembly! After securing everything back together firmly but gently, your dripping problem should cease as you’ve effectively addressed those pesky broken washers.

Water Pressure Issues and How to Solve Them

High water pressure in your home’s plumbing systems can often lead to a dripping faucet. To diagnose this problem, check the water pressure using a gauge and compare it to standard levels.

Installing a pressure-reducing valve could solve the issue if it’s too high. On the flip side, low water pressure might indicate leaking pipes that need repairing to restore proper flow and stop drips.

Solving these water pressure issues not only halts unwelcome dripping but also prevents further waste of water and saves on household costs. For pipe leaks causing low pressure, inspect all accessible pipes for signs of damage or wear.

Seal any identified leaks with appropriate materials or consult a professional plumber if the task seems beyond your DIY skills. Keeping an eye on both high and low-pressure problems will keep your faucets functioning efficiently without unnecessary drips or strains on your system.

Malfunctioning O-Ring

A common culprit for tap leaks is a malfunctioning O-ring. These small but essential elements provide a seal between the different parts of the tap. Over time, O-rings can deteriorate or become loose, causing water to escape and drip along the tap’s body or at its base.

If you’ve noticed leaking around your tap handle when you turn on the water, there’s a good chance it’s due to a worn-out O-ring.

Fixing this issue usually involves first locating the faulty O-ring, which often sits within the stem of the tap near its handle. To access and replace it, you might need to carefully take apart some components, such as the escutcheon cap and packing nut, using basic tools like an adjustable spanner and utility knife.

Always match your new O-ring with the exact size and shape of your old one to ensure no further leaks occur once everything is reassembled. Regular checks are key, as even small drips can lead to significant water waste over time.

Deteriorated Valve Seat

Over time, the valve seat in your faucet can suffer wear and tear from constant exposure to water sediment. This sediment creates friction that can damage both the seat and the washers it comes into contact with, leading to those annoying drips.

The seal between your faucet spout and its base relies heavily on a well-maintained valve seat; any deterioration here disrupts proper water flow.

If you tackle persistent dripping taps, checking for corrosion on the valve seat should be a priority. A corroded valve seat won’t function correctly as a sealing mechanism, allowing leakage even when you think your faucet is turned off tightly.

Regular cleaning can prevent mineral buildup, but replacing or repairing this part is essential to stop water wastage once the damage is effectively present.

Types of Faucets Prone to Leaks

Certain styles of taps are more susceptible to developing pesky leaks in the labyrinth of pipework that adorns our homes. Identifying your faucet type is crucial to stemming the tide and keeping those drops at bay.

Cartridge Faucets

Cartridge faucets often find themselves in the spotlight when it comes to leaks. Their design, which includes a cartridge as a central operating feature, sets them apart from other faucets.

If your tap starts dripping, the culprit could be a damaged or worn-out cartridge calling for immediate replacement. These faucets rely on this crucial component to control water flow and temperature, making it imperative that they function correctly.

Leaks aren’t always due to faulty parts; excessive water pressure can play a villain, too. This is why diagnosing issues with cartridge faucets might involve checking more than just the hardware.

Homeowners should consider examining their home’s water pressure if they encounter continuous dripping after changing the cartridge, and understanding how these facets work becomes essential for solving leaky situations without wasting time or resources on incorrect fixes.

Disc Faucets

Disc faucets stand out for their durability and are considered a modern, pricier option in tapware. Their design features a pair of ceramic discs at the bottom that control water flow through precise alignment.

Leaks often stem from damage to these discs or rubber seals compromised by grit and mineral deposits that accumulate with use.

Repairing disc faucets usually involves tackling the damaged rubber seals, ensuring they’re free from any debris that might cause leakage. As with other faucet types, regular maintenance coupled with timely repairs can significantly extend your disc faucet’s life, preventing frustrating drips and keeping everything running smoothly.

Ball Faucets

Ball faucets are unique because they rely on a ball bearing to control water flow. This design means that when you find a leak, it often involves disassembling many small parts, making the repair process slightly more intricate than other faucet types.

A common problem with ball-type faucets is wear and tear on components like O-rings, springs and rubber seals.

To fix leaks in a ball faucet, skilled handiwork must carefully remove the handle and housing to access the ball valve inside. Once open, inspecting each part for damage becomes crucial, including looking for corrosion on the seat washer or signs of degradation in other areas influenced by constant exposure to water.

Replacing faulty elements usually resolves dripping issues and restores smooth operation.

Compression Washer Faucets

Compression washer faucets are often found in older homes and are known for their rubber washers that need regular replacing to prevent leaks. These traditional taps use a simple mechanism involving a screw stem which, when turned, presses the rubber washer against a valve seat to control the flow of water.

Although this design is straightforward, wear and tear on the washers can prompt dripping faucets, calling for maintenance more often than modern fixtures.

Repairing these leaks typically involves dismantling the tap to reach the faulty washer at the base of the stem. Here, careful inspection followed by swapping out worn-out or broken washers usually does the trick in restoring proper function.

Given their tendency to develop problems over time, homeowners with compression faucets must stay vigilant and promptly address issues before they escalate into larger plumbing headaches.

The Process of Fixing a Dripping Faucet

Master the art of stopping that persistent drip with our step-by-step guide on faucet repair, ensuring you have a dry sink and peace of mind – keep reading to become your home’s plumbing hero.

Shutting Off the Water

Before tackling the leaky faucet, find the valves underneath the sink and twist them clockwise to cut off the hot and cold water supply. Ensuring both lines are shut stops any water flow, preventing a potential flood during repairs.

Look for two knobs connected to pipes; one will be for cold water while the other will be for hot. Give each a firm turn until you can’t rotate them further.

Some homes may have a central system where you must switch off the main water line if local valves aren’t available. Locate this usually in your basement or on an exterior wall of your house.

This step is essential to avoid unexpected geysers or spills that could lead to more significant issues like water damage or hefty cleaning bills, not just simple drain cleaning tasks.

Removing the Faucet Handle

Locate the tiny screw securing the faucet handle to the main body. This might be disguised under a decorative cap that you’ll need to pry off gently with a flat-head screwdriver. Twist this screw counter-clockwise using either a Phillips or flat-head, depending on its head type, until it’s loose enough to separate the handle from its stem.

Once free of its fastening, lift the handle upwards. You may require some wiggling if mineral deposits have caused it to stick. Be steady and patient to avoid damaging parts as you remove them and expose the internal components like the disk cylinder essential for controlling water flow.

Detaching the Valve Stem or Cartridge

Once you have removed the faucet handle, the next step is to remove the packing nut. This exposes the valve stem or cartridge at the heart of most water flow and temperature control mechanisms in faucets.

Use an adjustable wrench to carefully twist and pull it from its position within the faucet body.

Inspect all removed parts for signs of wear or damage, such as cracks or erosion, which could be causing your leak. Pay special attention to O-rings and rubber seals, as they are often responsible for preventing water from seeping out around the moving parts of your faucet.

If these components appear compromised, replacing them should help stop any dripping issues you’re experiencing with your hot water output or the overall efficiency of your HVAC system.

Inspection of Sink Parts

Carefully disassemble the tap handles to unveil any hidden damage. Look for cracks, wear, or deterioration that could be the culprit behind the incessant dripping. Move on to detach the valve stem; checking this component closely for leaks or signs of fault is essential.

Every part must face scrutiny, especially washers, gaskets, O-rings, and valve seats – these often suffer from corrosion over time.

Proceed to clear out all traces of debris and sediment that have settled in the nooks and crannies of your faucet parts. Such thorough cleaning prevents further blockages and ensures smooth water flow post-reassembly.

After everything is sparkly clean, conduct a rigorous test by running hot and cold water at full blast. This final step confirms whether you’ve successfully bid farewell to those annoying drips or if there’s still more work needed under the sink.

Replacing Damaged Parts

Identifying and swapping out the faulty components is crucial to fixing a dripping faucet effectively. Begin by taking the trip to your local hardware store with the old parts in hand, ensuring you purchase exact matches for a seamless replacement.

Simple washers or seals are often responsible for leaks; installing new ones can provide an immediate solution.

Ensure all replaced parts fit snugly and are secured correctly during reassembly. If high water pressure is causing continuous dripping, it may be necessary to replace a broken valve to remedy the issue once and for all.

Replacing these elements stops wasteful water loss and prevents damage from escalating within your plumbing system.

Sanitising the Valves

Clean the valves thoroughly to eliminate any harmful germs or bacteria lurking within. Use a reliable disinfectant or a dedicated sanitising solution to ensure every nook and cranny is reached.

This step safeguards your water supply from contamination, making it crucial for hygiene and safety.

Ensure you don’t skip sanitising your faucet’s valves during maintenance routines. Doing so helps prevent potential health risks and keeps future leaks at bay, guaranteeing that your tap remains in top-notch condition for longer.

Reassembling the Faucet

Begin the reassembly of your faucet by carefully inserting the new or repaired parts into their appropriate positions. If you’ve replaced a cartridge, secure it with the retaining clip you initially removed; this may require a steady hand and pliers to fit back into place snugly.

Line up all components correctly before proceeding.

Next, reattach the valve stem or cartridge, ensuring it sits squarely within its housing for optimal function. Once securely in place, screw on any nuts or fasteners that were taken off during disassembly.

Finish by placing the faucet handle back on top and securing it firmly with screws. Double-check all connections for tightness before turning on the water supply to avoid potential leaks.

With everything tightened and aligned, slowly turn on your water supply at the shut-off valves underneath your sink. Allow hot and cold water to run full force for a few moments as this helps clear out debris from the supply lines, which could cause blockages if not flushed through beforehand.

Watch closely for signs of leaks; if none appear, you have successfully fixed your dripping faucet without needing professional assistance!

When to Consider Replacing Your Leaky Faucet

At times, a temporary repair simply won’t suffice, leading you to confront the decision of whether to replace your leaky faucet. Factors such as an aged fixture or escalating repair costs can influence your choice towards installing a new one for long-term peace of mind and efficiency.

Faucet Age

Knowing the age of your faucet is crucial when deciding whether to repair or replace it. Faucets are built to last, often serving effectively for up to 15 to 20 years. However, their optimal functionality might decline after about a decade depending on use and maintenance.

Frequent issues crop up as faucets age; handles may become stiff, valves wear out, and the once smooth flow becomes a frustrating drip.

Consider upgrading older models before they fail – modern faucets offer improved performance and reduce water waste. If you notice persistent problems with an ageing tap, investing in a new fixture could save time and money in the long run.

Newer installations include updated features like water-saving technologies that align with environmentally friendly practices, such as conservative air conditioning usage.

Duration of Repairs

Fixing a leaky faucet can take an hour to an entire afternoon, depending on the complexity of the problem and your DIY skills. Simple repairs like replacing a worn washer or O-ring often require less time and are straightforward if you have all the tools.

For problems such as a damaged cartridge or malfunctioning valve seat, more time is needed to carefully dismantle the faucet components, locate the issue, and replace faulty parts.

Consider how often you are under the sink with a wrench in hand. If frequent fixes become part of your routine, it’s worth evaluating whether continued repairs are cost-effective compared to investing in a new faucet.

Persistent issues that demand regular attention suggest deeper faults within your tap system; these may signal it’s nearing its functional end after years of service. Remember that faucets generally last between 10 and 20 years – beyond this period, replacement might be more sensible than repair.

Cost of Repairs

Repairing a leaky faucet is not just about stopping the drip; it also involves cost considerations. The expenses can range from modest to significant, depending on factors such as the type of faucet and the extent of damage.

When considering parts and labour, a straightforward bathroom sink repair might set you back between £60 and £200. Costs escalate if specialist components or complex issues come into play.

Hiring a plumber could cost anywhere from £45 to £200 per hour. These rates reflect their expertise in swiftly diagnosing problems that might stump most DIY enthusiasts. Be prepared for an overall price tag between £233 and £281 for each fixed faucet, considering that prices will vary with site-specific conditions and choices.

Simple fixes may lean towards the lower end, while more complicated repairs, requiring special parts or additional time, drive costs higher.

Ineffectiveness of Repairs

Sometimes, fixing a dripping faucet does not lead to the desired outcome. Despite replacing washers or the O-ring, the tap might continue leaking. This persistent problem often indicates deeper issues within your plumbing system that simple repairs can’t fix.

Over time, if you notice that repairs only provide short-term solutions and you’re frequently battling drips and leaks, it could be a sign that your efforts aren’t addressing the underlying problems.

Repeatedly spending money on minor fixes adds up and may not make economic sense in the long run. Considering how expensive these constant band-aid repairs can get, they might exceed what a new high-quality faucet would cost to install.

In such cases, continuing with ineffective repair attempts wastes valuable time and resources while failing to fix your leaky faucet permanently.

When to Call a Professional

Tackling a persistent leak might be more complicated than expected. If your faucet continues to drip after replacing washers or cartridges, consider seeking help from an expert plumber.

Complex issues like sweat valves or damaged plumbing parts could require professional tools and experience. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re unsure about any step in the repair process.

A spot-on diagnosis saves time and water, so enlisting a professional is wise for leaks that defy simple fixes. For faucets past their prime or repairs that seem endless, call in skilled plumbers who can provide efficient solutions.

They will handle any plumbing challenge, ensuring no further damage occurs due to attempts at DIY repairs gone wrong.


In conclusion, mastering the art of fixing a leaky tap offers relief from the irritating drip, conserves water, and saves money. Recognising signs early and tackling repairs promptly prevents further damage.

Should you struggle with any step, remember that expert plumbers are just a call away. Embrace this do-it-yourself approach confidently and keep your home’s taps functioning flawlessly.


1. Why does my faucet drip even when turned off?

Your faucet may be dripping due to a worn-out washer or O-ring that needs replacing, which prevents it from forming a watertight seal.

2. Can I fix a dripping faucet on my own?

You can often fix a dripping faucet with the right tools and instructions; turn off the water supply before starting!

3. What tools do I need for fixing a leaking tap?

To fix a leaky tap, you’ll typically require an adjustable wrench, screwdriver set, replacement washers or O-rings and possibly some plumber’s tape or grease.

4. How long does it take to repair a dripping tap?

Repairing a dripping tap is usually quick work; having all your tools ready and knowing the steps could take as little as 30 minutes.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *