It’s estimated that the amount of water lost annually in the UK via dripping taps can fill 184 Olympic-sized swimming pools. In other words, we’re talking of not less than 460 million litters of water getting lost through faulty taps that won’t just stop dripping! The small drips you notice on your tap; don’t take that for granted, it amounts to a huge loss when combined with other smaller amounts from other homes.
What causes a leaking tap?
Have you ever closed a tap, but the water still continued dripping? Finding the reason a faucet is leaking can be frustrating. Sometimes you try to fix it to save water only to find that you are doing it wrong. The tap has many parts, and each of these parts can contribute to it leaking. To help you identify the problem the next time you come across a leaking tap, we have compiled some of the possible causes that could lead to your tap leakage. Take a look.
- The washer
It is the most common cause of tap leaks. A washer is a small rubber in your tap pressed down to the end of the water pipe. It stops the water from flowing when you close the tap. If not installed properly, it can lead to leakages. It could also be causing your tap to leak if it has stayed for a long time. Sometimes they corrode because of aging and become loose. The only solution to that is replacing it with a new washer or checking if it is well fixed.
- The O-Ring
Is the leakage at the top or the bottom of the tap? If it is from the handle, then your O-Ring is loose. O-ring is installed in the tap handle to provide a waterproof seal, and getting damaged or becoming loose could be why it is leaking.
- The valve seat
It is installed where the spout meets the tap. With aging, this part wears and tears, becoming loose and can be why your tap is leaking. It is easy to correct a valve set, but it requires you to know where it is and have the right tools.
- Excessive water pressure
Yes! The pressure can be too much for the pipes, and the only way out is through the tap. Water will look for the smallest space, and that is why you will begin to see small drops coming from your tap, although it is tightly locked. The pressure causes the water not to flow back to where it is coming from or to its destination. The pipes become full, and since water has high pressure, it finds its way out through any small opening on the tap.
- Pipe issues
Have you checked if your pipes are okay? They could be a reason for the abnormal pressure. These could be due to damage from tree roots or blockage. Checking if your pipes are in good condition can be a solution to leaking taps.
- Loose parts
The apparent reason water is leaking from your tap is malfunction parts of the faucet. When they become loose, they no longer function well. Ensure that the washers are tightly fixed. The O-Ring should also be in its place and in perfect condition. Some of the parts are wholly damaged and they need replacing. If you do not have the tools or don’t know how to look for the O-Ring, call your plumber.
Tools needed to fix a dripping tap
To make work easier and faster, you will need to assemble the necessary tools. This minimizes the amount of time taken to look for the other tools and reduces the amount of water lost. With these tools, you will be able to fix your problem within less time.
- Adjustable wrench
- Washers and seals
- Replacement cartridge
- Channel-lock pliers
- Flathead screwdriver
Other things that you might need are
- A scouring pad
- White vinegar
- Spray penetrating oil.
Fixing traditional taps
The traditional tap is the one you turn on by twisting the handle round by round. Most times, these taps leak because of a damaged washer. This is because the tap works by compressing the rubber washer, and with time, it wears out. Here are simple steps on how to fix it.
- There is a screw beneath the cap at the top. To get to it, use a screwdriver to remove the top cap. Liftoff the tap handle and unscrew the metal shroud if your tap has it.
- After unscrewing the metal shroud, you will get to a hexagonal nut. Now hold the spout firmly and, using the adjustable spanner, undo the nut. You can be able to see the washer at the bottom of the tap stem.
- Lift the tap step to get to the washer. Use your replacement washer to replace the old one.
- Wash the main body of th tap and ensure it is clean
- Now return every part to its place as it was.
Fixing ceramic disk taps
When opening ceramic disk taps, you cannot do more than a quarter or half turn. Instead of a washer, these modern taps use a cartridge, and they come in different sizes. To know your tap’s size, you will need to visit a plumber’s shop with the existing cartridge so that you can find your match.
To fix a leaking ceramic disk tap
- Look for a small screw under the hot and cold water indicator. Unscrew it with an Allen key or a screwdriver so that you can get to the levers. Remove the levers and if the metal shroud is there, unscrew it.
- The cartridges are held into place by a hollow hexagonal nut that you will need to undo with an adjustable spanner.
- Now replace the old cartridge with the new one.
- Wash the body of the tap thoroughly and then reassemble everything as it was.
Maintaining taps to avoid drips and leaks
Dripping leads to wastage of a lot of water. A dripping tap can also be a source of noise, especially at night. Now, since you know why your faucet could be leaking and how to fix it, here are simple tips on maintaining your tap and stopping it from dripping and leaking.
- Turn off the valves- if the dripping is persistent, turn off the valves. This will stop the water flow. Remember to turn them on when you need to use the tap.
- Ensure you tighten the handle. Some taps leak because they are not tightly locked. Also, please keep checking the washers to ensure they are in good condition.
- Check the pipes to ensure water is flowing naturally.
Replace your old taps with new ones. As they age, tap parts wear and tear, and others could become loose. Replacing the old ones with new ones will help you solve the problem once and for all.