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How to Fix a Leaky Tap

No need to hire a plumber to fix your leaky tap. To fix leaks on the four most common types of taps, Simply follow these instructions.

Determine which type of tapware you have. A compression tap has two screw handles, one for hot and one for cold, and is the easiest to recognize by sight. The other three types of taps all have one central, swiveling arm that you can swing from hot to cold as desired. However, the internal mechanisms at the base of their arms are all different: a ball tap contains a ball bearing, a cartridge tap contains a cartridge (cartridge materials vary, but handle often has a decorative cap), and a ceramic-disk tap contains a ceramic cylinder. You may have to take your tap apart before you know which is which.

fixing taps

faucet_knob1.Turn off the water to your tap. Look underneath your sink for the pipes that run up to your tap. Along those pipes somewhere will be handles that you can turn to shut off the water to your sink. Twist clockwise to shut off (remember: lefty, loosy; righty, tighty).

2. Plug the drain. Use a sink plug if you have one or a rag. Nothing will ruin your day faster than having a screw or a washer go down the drain.

Compression Tap

faucet_leak1. Remove each handle. Pry off the decorative cap if necessary (usually reading “Hot” or “Cold”), unscrew, and remove the handle.

2. Use a wrench to remove the nut. Underneath, you will find the stem, which sits on top of the O-ring, which sits on top of a seat washer (usually rubber), which is most likely the culprit.

3. Pull out the stem. This will expose the O-ring (thin) and seat washer (thick).If the handles itself is leaky (as opposed to the faucet), replace the O-ring.

4. Remove the seat washer. This will be held in place with an upside-down brass screw.

5. Replace the seat washer. Since these washers vary in size, you might need to bring the old one in with you to a parts store to find an exact match. Coat the replacement in plumber’s grease before installing it.

6. Reassemble each handle. Any minor leaks should now be fixed.

Ball Tap

faucet_11. Buy a replacement kit. Ball taps have several parts that will need to be replaced and some that require special tools. Note that this is not the same thing as replacing the entire tap.

2. Unscrew and remove the handle.

3. Use pliers to remove the cap and collar.

4. Loosen the tap cam. Use the tool provided in your replacement kit.

5. Remove the tap cam, washer, and ball.

6. Remove the inlet seals and springs. To do this, you will need to reach into the mechanism itself with pliers.

7. Replace the O-rings. Cut off the old ones and coat the new ones in plumber’s grease before installing.

8. Install new springs, valve seats, and cam washers. These will be included in your kit.

9. Reassemble the handle. The leak should now be repaired.

Cartridge Tap


1. Remove the handle. Pry off the decorative cap if necessary, unscrew, and remove the handle by tilting it backwards.

2. Remove the retaining clip if necessary. This is a circular, threaded piece (usually of plastic) that sometimes holds the cartridge in place and can be pulled out with pliers

3. Pull the cartridge so that it stands straight up. This is the position the cartridge sits in when the water is on full blast.

4. Remove the tap spout.

5. Replace the O-rings. Cut off the old ones and coat the new ones in plumber’s grease before installing.

6. Reassemble the handle. The leak should now be repaired.

Ceramic - Disk Tap


1. Unscrew and remove the handle.

2. Remove the escutcheon cap. This sits directly beneath the handle and is usually made of metal.

3. Unscrew and remove the disk cylinder. This will expose several neoprene seals on the underside.

4. Pry out the seals and clean the cylinders. White vinegar would work well for this purpose, especially if you have hard water.

5. Replace the seals if necessary. If they look pitted, frayed, thin, or otherwise worn – or if you simply want to play it safe – bring them into the hardware store to find exact replacements.

6. Reassemble the handle and very slowly turn the water on. Running the water too forcefully can crack the ceramic disk.

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