Showers & Bathrooms


How To Fix A Dripping Faucet

A dripping faucet is one of those little things that can be really annoying.  However, it needn’t be a problem, as fixing a leaky faucet is usually a simple job.  It’s best to repair a dripping faucet sooner rather than later, as it’s a waste of water and could stain your fittings.  Despite all the different styles of fsink and bath faucets available these days, the principle for stopping one from dripping is the same – you will generally need to change the seal, which means either replacing a rubber washer or, in modern bathroom faucets, replacing a ceramic disk cartridge.

Rubber Washers
To replace a rubber washer, you’ll need to dismantle the faucet.  You’ll find the washer at the base of the headgear, right inside the faucet.  How you take your faucet apart depends on the design of your particular faucet.  Your faucet handle may be held in place with a push fit design, or with retaining screws covered with caps.  Before you begin to disassemble your faucets, remember to switch off the water supply to that particular faucet, either using the shut-off valve or by turning off the mains.  Run off any water left in the pipes before you start, to make sure it doesn’t leak everywhere when you remove the headgear.  Then put the plug in the sink or bath, to prevent any little screws or bits being lost down the plughole.

Once you’ve removed your faucet handle, you’ll find a retaining screw on the plastic cover that’s fitted over the faucet headgear, which you’ll need to unscrew.  Pull the cover off – it’s used for mounting the faucet handle to the headgear.  The next step is to use an adjustable spanner to undo the headgear.  It may be quite tight, so you may find it helps to hold the faucet body in place with another spanner or slip-joint pliers.  If you need to do this, wrap a cloth round the faucet body, or tape around the pliers, to prevent scratches.

Once you’ve succeeded in removing the headgear, you can remove the washer.  It will probably be held in place with a nut, which can be removed with an adjustable spanner or long-nose pliers.  Flick out the old washer using a slot-head screwdriver or a similar tool, then simply put the new washer in its place, and put the faucet back together.  Sometimes washers aren’t secured by nuts.  If this is the case, it may be more difficult to remove your washer.  You can use a craft knife to cut it out.  To make it easier to press the new washer in, try soaking it in hot water first.

Ceramic Disc Cartridges
Ceramic disc cartridges are used in modern faucet designs as an alternative to washer sealed systems.  They are well-designed and rarely develop leaks.  However, if a faucet with this type of design does begin to drip, rather than simply replacing a small part such as a washer, you’ll need to replace the whole cartridge.  Make sure you’ve got the correct type of cartridge before you begin work – there are lots of different sorts.  Then disconnect the water supply, either at the mains or using a shut-off valve for that particular faucet.  Run off any excess water in the pipes and then put the plug in to stop any small parts falling down the plughole.

Remove the faucet handle, either by unscrewing it or pulling it off, depending on the design.  You should then unscrew the faucet shroud, either by hand or using pliers or an adjustable spanner.  If you need to use tools to do this, take care not to scratch the shroud, by putting tape over the ends of the pliers or wrapping a cloth round it.  Then use an adjustable spanner to unscrew the cartridge from the main faucet body.  Pull the old cartridge out and put the new one in its place.  You can then put your faucet back together.

Other Causes Of Leaks
Replacing a washer will fix a leak in the spout of the faucet.  However, if a drip is happening further up the faucet body, it’s likely that an O-ring, another type of seal, needs to be replaced.  Signs that you need to replace an O-ring rather than a washer include leaks around the shrouds that cover the faucet headgear, or at the base of the spout on a mono-bloc faucet.