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Tap Repair: How to Fix Your Leaking Taps

With between six and twelve taps inside the average Australian home, the chances that you will have a leaking or broken one every so often is high. But far more than being a minor annoyance in the middle of the night, when the “drip-drip-drip” can keep you awake, it can also have a serious cost.

A single dripping in the home can result in waste of over 24,000 litres of water a year. In a hot, dry continent like Australia, we can’t afford to waste that much water. It can also add a lot to your water utility bill – especially if it happens to be your hot water tap that’s leaking!

So knowing how to repair a leaking tap will be useful for all home owners.

It’s not complicated, but here we have put in extra detail to make sure that if you have any problems, the answer will be clear.

Common Causes

There are three common causes that account for the majority of leaking taps around the house. The first is the most common, with the washer having worn out through everyday wear and tear. The o-ring inside the tap failing can also cause leaks, and the jumper valve is the final most common cause of those annoying drips.

It is best practice to replace all three components when you go to fix a leaking tap. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that sometimes it’s not immediately clear which of the three is causing the problem, as a hairline nick or weakness can be the issue.

More practically, if you have gone to the effort to disassemble a tap and replace a part, it makes sense to replace all three and save yourself the trouble of doing it again in the near future.

Cold Water Tap

Your Pre-Repair Checklist

Luckily, you don’t have to be a fully fledged weekend handyman or woman to fix a tap, with only a few tools required. A basic adjustable wrench or spanner and a screwdriver are the first essential tools. The tap repair will likely need a jumper valve, some o-rings as well as some washers. 12 millimetre washers are the most commonly found in Australian homes.

Some additional extras can include a small towel to place all of the parts on as you pull them apart. This will ensure that they’re all in the same place and you don’t misplace any, and the fibres of a the towel also ensure that tiny screws don’t roll away on smooth surfaces.

Step by Step

First of all, make sure that the water mains to your home is turned off. For homes, these are usually in the front yard or just outside the gate. For townhouses and apartments, the mains are commonly found in the laundry or bathroom.

After the main water supply is turned off, open the taps you’ll be working on. This will release any residual water left in the pipes.

Next, get a sink plug and place it in the drain. The most common way to lose the small bits and pieces that make up a tap is straight down the sink, never to be found again – which can mean a frustrating and time-consuming trip down to the hardware store. If you don’t have a plug you can improvise with a face washer or cloth.

Now you can remove the cover of the tap with the screwdriver. This is usually where the “H” or “C” is written, or where the blue and red indicators are. Once this is removed you should be able to see a small screw inside the tap. These are commonly directly below, but are sometimes positioned off to the side.

Unscrew the screw, which will then allow you to remove the handle of the tap. If the handle is covered with a metal cover then you can remove that with a wrench, but use a cloth between the wrench and cover to stop the chrome or enamel from scratching.

You can then use your spanner to unscrew the tap bonnet and take out the headgear of the tap. You will now be able to see the o-ring, jumper valve and washer.

Before you pull out all the parts, take note of where they all fit in. Some people find it useful to snap a photo with their phone so they can refer back to it. Take out the o-ring, jumper valve and washer and replace each of them.

Reassemble the tap, in reverse order to the instructions above, making sure not to over-tighten the nuts as this can cause cracking.

Turn the water mains back on and test the taps. You can also place a cup or bowl in the sink for a few hours to check that the leaking has completely stopped.

And there you have it! You now have the instructions and list of tools you need to tackle your tap repair. For any more serious plumbing problems and major plumbing projects, including emergency plumbing and repairs, just give us a call at JEDI Plumbing for an obligation free quote and friendly service from our professional, experienced team.