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How to Easily Fix a Leaking Tap

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by Lisa Morgan (subscribe) life as it is meant to be experienced - outside the rat race, barefooted and content in one's own skin.
Published December 2nd 2017
Forget the plumber, learn a new skill
how to, leaking tap, leaky tap, fix a tap
Getting the Tap Handle off the Tap

A leaking tap is enough to drive anyone crazy. Drip, drip, drippetty drip. What's more, some taps keep returning to their leaking despite being fixed temporarily by landlords and handymen.

Now, you can learn about taps and how to assemble and disassemble them. The tap doesn't need to be broken to have a go at this, and it is really simple to do.

Disassembling and Repairing a Tap: Step by Step with Photos

1. Collect your tools. The following tools are really useful to have in a home plumbing first-aid kit. Universal tap spanner (multi-fit), small flat-head screwdriver, an adjustable wrench or shifter, 13mm-19mm tap reseater, waterproof tap lubricant, and plumbing tape.

2. Turn the water off at the mains. It will be a garden variety tap out the front of your house near the boundary line, and there will be a water meter with it.

3. Lesson learned the hard way - put the plug in the sink before beginning!

4. Get the handle off. For some taps, the hot/cold water buttons can be screwed off. Other taps have plastic caps with a tiny nook under them for a small screwdriver to slip under to pop the cap off. Have a look, and if you can't figure it out, look up your particular tap online. To the right is a standard cheap plastic Shaw and Mason tap that is commonly found in a lot of houses. It has a small nut on the spindle inside.
how to, leaking tap, leaky tap, fix a tap
Getting the Flange and Plastic Nut off the Spindle
You can get it off using a screwdriver, or the plastic nut tool that comes in new packets of Shaw and Mason tap handles. Then the plastic tap handle can just be pulled off.

5. Unscrew the plastic nut from the spindle, and unscrew the flange from the base of the tap to expose the tap assembly.

6. Use the tap spanner to unscrew the bolt at the bottom of the spindle. This is the tap bonnet. You can also get it off with a shifter or adjustable wrench if you don't have a multi-fit tap spanner. You can lift the tap assembly out at this point.

how to, leaking tap, leaky tap, fix a tap
Using the Tap Spanner on the exposed tap assembly
7. There will be a red body washer on the bottom of the tap bonnet - check this for wear and replace with a new one as needed. The tap spindle can be unscrewed from the tap bonnet by hand. On the tap spindle, you will see a black O ring. Sometimes this needs replacing with a new O ring due to wear. Lubricate the tap spindle and ring with the tap lubricant before screwing it back into the tap bonnet.

8. Look in the tap seat in the basin. There will be a tap valve sitting there as they don't usually come out when you pull the spindle and bonnet assembly out. Pull this tap valve out and have a look at it. If your tap is leaking, this is one of the parts that you should replace with a new one. The soft turn valves by Fix-a-tap are especially great for people who have difficulty turning taps off properly, like children with autism or others with problems that affect fine motor control.
how to, leaking tap, leaky tap, fix a tap
Lubricating the spindle and O ring
You can slip the new tap valve into the bottom of the reassembled spindle and bonnet assembly.

9. Finally, before screwing the assembly with the valve in the bottom of it back into the tap seat, there is an extra step that is important. If your tap has been repaired before but keeps returning to leaking, you should reseat your tap. Get out the reseater tool, and screw it into the tap seat. As you turn the handle you will feel it grinding as it scours the inside of the tap seat. Remove the tool when you are finished.

how to, leaking tap, leaky tap, fix a tap
Getting the Tap Valve out of the Tap Seat
10. Insert the assembly back in, and tighten it. Put the flange and the plastic nut for the handle back on, then secure the handle.

You've now disassembled and reassembled a tap, doing repairs as you go. Make sure you teach this knowledge and skill to your children as well so they have this to take away with them when they leave home.

how to, leaking tap, leaky tap, fix a tap
Reseating the Tap Seat with the Reseater tool
Not a basin tap that is leaking? Shower taps are similar. Head over here for How to Fix a Leaky Shower Tap (with pictures).


Leaking tap - replace tap valve, o ring, body washer.

Recurrent leaking tap - replace all of the above if you have not already, and then reseat the tap seat with a reseater tool.

Handle turns but water does not come out - make sure the mains water is on. If the problem is specific to that tap, take tap handle off and replace plastic spindle nut that comes with the tap handle with a brass one. If the spindle is turning fine when the handle is turned, it may be the soft turn tap valve has been damaged and is blocking the water.
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Why? So you can DIY with confidence!
When: As needed
Cost: Approx $30-50 for tools, under $10 for replacement parts
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