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How to fix a dripping tap?

September 8, 2021

Mitchel Plumbing Gas

How to fix a dripping tap?

A dripping tap is a common household problem where water continuously drips from the tap even when it is turned off. The three main causes for a tap to drip are worn out washers, damaged o-rings, or a corroded valve seat. In this article, we will discuss the steps for fixing a dripping tap.

While it is possible to fix a dripping tap yourself, there are several reasons why it is better to have a professional plumber like Mitchell Plumbing and Gas handle the repair:

  1. Professionals have the expertise and experience to quickly diagnose the root cause of the dripping tap and apply the appropriate fix.
  2. Plumbers have all the necessary tools and replacement parts on hand, saving you from having to purchase them yourself.
  3. Attempting a DIY repair risks causing additional damage if done incorrectly, potentially leading to more costly repairs down the line. Professional plumbers guarantee their work.

Mitchell Plumbing and Gas provides comprehensive water leak detection and repair services. Their skilled plumbers can efficiently locate the source of any leak and implement a lasting solution, whether it's a dripping tap, a leaky pipe, or a malfunctioning fixture. By entrusting your dripping tap repair to professionals, you ensure the job is done right the first time.

1. Turn off the water supply

The first step in fixing a dripping tap is to turn off the water supply. Locate the shut-off valve for the dripping tap, which is usually located under the sink or near the base of the tap. Turn the valve clockwise to stop the flow of water completely. This step is crucial to prevent any water from flowing out while you work on the tap.

2. Prepare the area

Before starting the repair, prepare the area around the dripping tap. Place a towel or rag under the sink to catch any water that may drip during the process. This step will help prevent any water damage to the surrounding area and make the cleanup easier after the repair is complete.

3. Identify the type of tap

Different types of taps have different mechanisms, so it is essential to identify the type of tap you have before proceeding with the repair. The most common types of taps are compression taps, cartridge taps, and ceramic disc taps. Compression taps have two handles, one for hot water and one for cold water, and they use rubber washers to control the flow of water. Cartridge taps have a single handle that controls both hot and cold water, and they use a cartridge to regulate the flow. Ceramic disc taps also have a single handle, but they use a ceramic disc mechanism to control the water flow.

4. Gather necessary tools

To fix a dripping tap, you will need a few basic tools. These include an adjustable wrench, which is used to loosen and tighten nuts and fittings; a screwdriver, which is used to remove the tap handle; and an Allen key, which is used to remove the cartridge or ceramic disc. You may also need pliers to grip and remove small parts, and a replacement washer, O-ring, or cartridge, depending on the type of tap you have.

5. Disassemble the tap

Using the appropriate tools, carefully disassemble the dripping tap. Start by removing the handle, which is usually held in place by a screw. Once the handle is removed, you should be able to access the internal components of the tap. Depending on the type of tap, you may need to remove the cartridge, ceramic disc, or rubber washer.

6. Inspect for damage

Once the tap is disassembled, inspect all the components for signs of damage or wear. Look for corroded parts, worn-out washers, or damaged O-rings, as these are common causes of dripping taps. If you notice any damaged components, they will need to be replaced.

7. Replace worn-out parts

If you find any worn-out or damaged parts during the inspection, replace them with new ones. You can purchase replacement washers, O-rings, and cartridges at most hardware stores or online. Make sure to choose the correct size and type of replacement part for your specific tap.

8. Reassemble the tap

After replacing any necessary parts, carefully reassemble the tap in the reverse order of disassembly. Make sure all the components are properly aligned and tightened to prevent any leaks. If you have any doubts or concerns during the reassembly process, consult the manufacturer's instructions or a professional plumber.

9. Turn on the water supply

Once the tap is fully reassembled, turn the water supply back on by rotating the shut-off valve counterclockwise. Test the tap by turning it on and checking for any leaks or drips. If the tap is functioning properly, the repair is complete.

10. Adjust if necessary

If the tap is still dripping after the repair, you may need to make some adjustments. Double-check that all the components are properly tightened and aligned. If the problem persists, you may need to repeat the disassembly process and inspect the components again for any missed damage or wear.

What causes a tap to drip?

The main reasons for a tap to drip are the following:

  • Worn-out washers or O-rings: Washers and O-rings are small rubber components inside the tap that create a watertight seal. Over time, these components can degrade, become damaged, or lose their elasticity, resulting in leaks around the tap's spout.
  • Loose or damaged parts: If any connections within the tap become loose or if parts such as valves or seals sustain damage, water can seep through and cause dripping. Loose parts can result from wear and tear or improper maintenance.
  • High water pressure: When the water pressure in your plumbing system is too high, it puts excess strain on the tap's components. This increased pressure can cause seals to fail, leading to leaks and drips.
  • Mineral deposits: In areas with hard water, minerals like calcium and magnesium can accumulate inside the tap. These deposits can interfere with the proper functioning of the tap's components, causing leaks and affecting the water flow.
  • Faulty installation: If a tap is not installed or assembled correctly, it may develop leaks and drips. This is particularly common when seals are not properly placed or when connections are not tightened adequately during installation.

Will a dripping tap get worse?

A dripping tap will not usually worsen on its own, but if left unaddressed, the constant leakage can cause damage to the surrounding area. The persistent moisture from a dripping tap can lead to the formation of mould or mildew, which can be harmful to your health and cause cosmetic damage to your sink or countertop. Additionally, if the water is allowed to leak for an extended period, it can cause rust to form on metal surfaces around the tap.

What is the most common cause of a leaky dripping two handle tap?

The most common cause of a leaky, dripping two-handle tap is a problem with the washer. In a two-handle tap, each handle controls the flow of hot or cold water independently. The washer is a small rubber disc that sits between the handle and the tap body, creating a seal that prevents water from leaking out when the tap is closed. Over time, these washers can become worn, damaged, or compressed, losing their ability to form a watertight seal. When this happens, water can seep past the washer, causing the tap to drip even when it is fully closed.

Is a dripping tap an emergency?

While a dripping tap is not typically considered an emergency, it can lead to more serious problems if left unattended. The constant moisture from a dripping tap can cause damage to the surrounding area, such as the formation of mould or mildew, which can be detrimental to your health and the appearance of your sink or countertop. Additionally, if the water is allowed to leak for an extended period, it can lead to the development of rust on metal surfaces around the tap.

However, it is important to distinguish between a dripping tap and a more serious plumbing issue, such as a burst pipe. A burst pipe can cause extensive damage to your home, leading to flooding and potential structural damage. In the case of a burst pipe, it is crucial to contact a professional plumber immediately to address the issue and minimise the extent of the damage.

Does a dripping tap cost money?

Contrary to popular belief, a dripping tap can actually cost you money in the long run. When a tap drips, it wastes water, which means you are paying for water that you are not using. In many cases, the cost of fixing a dripping tap is lower than the cumulative cost of the wasted water over time.

To illustrate this point, let's consider an example. If your tap is dripping at a rate of one drip per second, it can waste approximately 3,000 litres of water per year. In Australia, if your water bill is $2.50 per 1,000 litres, the dripping tap is costing you an extra $7.50 per year in wasted water. While this may seem like a small amount, it can add up over time, especially if you have multiple dripping taps in your household.

Furthermore, the cost of wasted water is not the only financial consideration when it comes to a dripping tap. As mentioned earlier, the constant moisture can lead to the growth of mould and mildew, which may require professional cleaning or even replacement of affected surfaces, adding to the overall cost of neglecting a dripping tap.

How can I prevent my tap from dripping?

To prevent your tap from dripping, you can take several preventive measures as listed below:

  • Regular maintenance: Periodically inspect your taps for any signs of wear, damage, or leaks. By addressing small issues promptly, you can prevent them from developing into larger, more costly problems down the line.
  • Replace worn-out parts: Over time, washers, O-rings, seals, and other internal components of your tap can deteriorate, leading to leaks. Replace these parts as soon as you notice signs of wear to maintain a proper seal and prevent drips.
  • Avoid excessive force: When turning your taps on and off, be gentle and avoid applying too much force. Excessive force can accelerate the wear and tear on your tap's components, leading to leaks and shortening the tap's lifespan.
  • Install a pressure regulator: If your home has high water pressure, it can put extra stress on your plumbing system, including your taps. Installing a pressure regulator can help reduce this stress and prevent leaks caused by excessive pressure.
  • Use a water softener: In areas with hard water, mineral buildup can accumulate in your plumbing system, leading to clogs and reduced efficiency. Installing a water softener can help minimise this buildup, prolonging the life of your taps and preventing leaks.
  • Fix leaks promptly: If you notice any leaks or drips, no matter how small, address them promptly to prevent further damage and water wastage. Ignoring leaks can lead to more significant problems and higher water bills over time.
  • Professional maintenance: Schedule regular maintenance checks with a professional plumber to inspect your plumbing system and address any potential issues before they escalate. This proactive approach can save you money and hassle in the long run.

In addition to these preventive measures, it's essential to avoid using harsh chemicals on your taps, as they can damage the washers and O-rings, eventually leading to a dripping tap.

If you have tried these methods and your tap continues to drip, it may be time to call a professional plumber. In some cases, the problem may lie within the pipes themselves, and a plumber will be able to diagnose the issue and make the necessary repairs.

Why Have a Professional Fix Your Dripping Tap?

Here are the main reasons why you should have a professional fix your dripping tap:

  • Expertise: Professional plumbers have the knowledge and experience to accurately diagnose the underlying issue causing your tap to drip. They can quickly identify whether the problem lies with the washers, O-rings, or another component, saving you time and guesswork.
  • Quality repairs: Professionals use high-quality materials and specialised tools to ensure long-lasting repairs. This reduces the likelihood of future leaks and helps maintain the integrity of your plumbing system.
  • Time-saving: Hiring a professional plumber saves you the time and effort of attempting to troubleshoot and repair the tap yourself. This is especially beneficial if you lack the necessary tools or experience to tackle the job efficiently.
  • Prevent further damage: In the process of repairing your dripping tap, professionals can identify and address any additional issues that may lead to future problems or damage to your plumbing system. This proactive approach can save you from more costly repairs down the line.
  • Safety: Professional plumbers are trained in safety protocols and adhere to industry standards. By hiring a professional, you reduce the risk of accidents or injuries that may occur during the repair process, especially if you are unfamiliar with plumbing systems.
  • Warranty and guarantee: Many professional plumbing companies, like Mitchell Plumbing and Gas, offer warranties or guarantees on their workmanship. This provides peace of mind, knowing that the job will be done correctly and that any issues that arise will be promptly addressed.

Mitchell Plumbing and Gas offers comprehensive water leak detection and repair services in Brisbane. Their experienced plumbers can quickly identify the source of your dripping tap and provide lasting solutions to prevent future leaks. Contact them today on 1300 730 896 to schedule a service and ensure your plumbing system remains in top condition.

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