A dripping tap is more than just an annoyance; it’s a waste of water and money. Left unfixed, that constant drip can lead to a bigger leak, requiring a call to an emergency plumber. Fortunately, fixing a dripping tap is often a straightforward DIY job. This guide will walk you through the steps to fix a dripping tap and help you decide when it’s time to call in a professional.

Understanding the Drip

The source of the drip will determine the repair approach. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Leak from the spout: This usually indicates a worn-out washer.
  • Leak from under the handle: The culprit is likely a faulty valve O-ring.
  • Leak at the base of the spout: This points to a damaged spout O-ring.

Identifying the exact location of the leak is crucial for selecting the right repair method.

Gathering Your Tools

Before diving in, gather the necessary tools:

  • Basin wrench or adjustable pliers
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Replacement washers (different sizes for various taps)
  • Bucket or rag (to catch drips)
  • Plumber’s tape (optional)

Having the right tools on hand will make the repair process smoother and more efficient.

Turning Off the Water Supply

Safety first! Locate the shut-off valve under the sink or near the water meter. Turn the handle perpendicular to the pipe to stop the water flow. Open the tap fully to release any remaining pressure. This step is essential to prevent water damage during the repair.

Fixing the Leak

Handle Removal

Using the screwdriver, remove the screw holding the handle in place. Lift the handle carefully. This will expose the internal components of the tap, making it easier to identify and replace faulty parts.

Washer Replacement (Spout Leak)

With the handle removed, you’ll see the valve assembly. There might be a nut holding the washer in place. Use the basin wrench to remove the nut and washer. Replace the washer with a new one of the same size, and reassemble in reverse order. Ensure that the new washer is seated correctly to prevent future leaks.

O-ring Replacement (Handle or Spout Leak)

Depending on the leak source, locate the appropriate O-ring (valve or spout). You might need to remove the spout or loosen a grub screw to access the O-ring. Replace the worn-out O-ring with a new one and reassemble. Lubricate the new O-ring with a bit of plumber’s grease for a better seal and easier installation.

Turning Water Back On and Testing

Slowly turn on the water supply valve. Open the tap fully and check for leaks. If there are no leaks, you’ve successfully fixed the drip! If the leak persists, the issue might be more complex, and consulting a professional plumber is recommended.

When to Call an Emergency Plumber

While fixing a dripping tap is often a DIY project, there are situations where calling a plumber is best:

  • Extensive Leak: If the leak is significant or coming from multiple places, it’s best to leave it to a professional.
  • Broken Tap: If the tap handle is broken or the tap itself is damaged, a replacement might be necessary, which a plumber can handle.
  • No Confidence: If you’re unsure about any step or uncomfortable working with plumbing, don’t hesitate to call a plumber for peace of mind.

The Benefits of Hiring an Emergency Plumber

When faced with more serious plumbing issues, an emergency plumber can provide several advantages:

  • Expertise: Professional plumbers have the skills and knowledge to diagnose and fix complex issues quickly.
  • Safety: Plumbing work can sometimes involve risks, such as water damage or injury. A professional ensures that the job is done safely.
  • Time-Saving: Fixing a plumbing problem can be time-consuming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the process. A plumber can save you time and hassle.
  • Long-Term Solutions: A professional plumber can provide a lasting fix, reducing the chances of recurring issues.


By following these steps and understanding your limitations, you can tackle a dripping tap yourself and avoid the potential cost of an emergency plumber visit. But remember, when in doubt, a qualified plumber is always a safe bet to ensure a lasting fix. Regular maintenance and prompt repairs can prevent small issues from becoming major problems, saving you time, money, and stress in the long run.