How to fix leaking taps

A leaky tap is a common occurrence within the home and it can be fixed relatively easily. Follow our handy hints to get your tap back in working order.


  • Turn off the water supply using the stop tap. You should find this under the kitchen sink or where the service pipe enters your home. If you have a cold water tank, turn off the stopcock (this is usually found in the attic or loft).
    Unscrew the nut on the tap that is leaking – it's important to hold onto the spout of the tap while you're doing this, otherwise you could end up with a cracked basin or pipe leak.

    • Turning off the stop cock to repair taps will only isolate the water supply in a direct water supply, i.e. mains fed property and pipework will still require draining in some instances.

    • In a gravity fed household i.e. when water is supplied via a cold water storage cistern located normally in the loft you will need further control measures. Just isolating the stopcock will leave the cold and hot water supplies still live, making it unsafe to repair or replace taps  which could lead to damage to the property.

  • Once the valve is out you can check the condition of the washer – if it looks old and squashed then chances are that’s the cause of the leak and it will need replacing!

  • Once replaced and everything looks in good condition, re-tighten the nuts on the tap.

  • If the tap continues to drip once the washer has been replaced then it will probably require resetting. Wear and tear can cause the setting to become worn.

  • If the leak is coming from around the tap spindle or you find the tap is vibrating during use, this can often be treated by replacing the gland packing or O-ring seals in the tap.

When you’re putting everything back together and reassembling the tap, a pointer from us would be to apply silicone grease to the spindle – this will make it easier to remove the tap in future.

Older brass taps that have aged may have developed cavities and become porous. If this is the case then the taps will require changing. For a job like this, we recommend calling a professional to fix a new set!

Leaking sink

If you're prepared to put in a bit of elbow grease then a leaky sink can usually be repaired without having to call in a professional – here’s a quick guide on how:

If it’s the pipe under the sink that is leaking, it could be that it isn’t secured correctly in which case you’ll need to fix this using the nozzle to secure it in place. If the pipe shows clear signs of damage or corrosion due to age, then it will more than likely need replacing – you’ll be able to pick up a replacement at most DIY stores.

If water is leaking from a pipe joint then the washer may have degraded. You should be able to replace this yourself by removing the surrounding pieces of pipe and securing a new washer in place.

Leaking bath or shower

A leaking bath or shower requires immediate attention – if the damage/leak worsens then it could pose a big problem. If you'd rather not fiddle with your fixtures then call in a professional before the problem escalates.

The most common cause of a leaking bath or shower is movement in the fitting itself. First point of call would be to check the fittings and ensure that there is no movement – the way in which you do this differs between steel and plastic baths, see below:

Steel baths

  • A steel bath can be secured by removing the bath panel and securing it to the wall through the under-hanging bath lip.

  • Ensure the feet are firmly screwed to the base and that all connections on the frame are firm.

Plastic baths

  • Make up some timber supports from some 2 inch x 1 inch treated timber cut to 400 mm.

  • Plug and screw them firmly under the edge of the bath, between the main body of the bath and the end walls.

  • Apply plenty of strong construction glue to the back of each support.

  • A bearer can also be placed under the edge of the bath at both ends.

  • As a top tip, when loosening any connections, douse them with penetrating oil to avoid slipping with a wrench and cracking the fixture.

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