Tips and tricks for how to fix a dripping tap

RACV's Handy Andy


Posted April 07, 2021

There are few sounds as annoying as a dripping tap.

But a tap that drips isn’t just an irritation, it’s also a waste of water, and a sign that all is not well and bigger problems like burst washers could be on the way. “Don’t ignore the warning signs,” says RACV’s trade training manager Andy Anderson, also known as Handy Andy. “If a tap drips or is hard to turn off, it needs attention.” 

Have a tap that won’t stop leaking? Have a go at fixing it yourself by following Handy Andy’s step-by-step guide below. For helpful guidance on how to address other common issues around the home, check out the rest of our Handy Andy video series.

Steps to fix a dripping tap

  1. Before you start, put a litre or so of water in a bucket and set it aside.
  2. Find the water meter to isolate the water coming into the property and turn it off.
  3. To relieve the water pressure in the line, open the tap you’re about to work on. This will make it easier to take the tap apart as the spindle won’t be jammed against the body of the tap.
  4. Using your multi grips to hold the body of the tap, undo the tap spindle with your shifter. Remove the tap spindle and washer by holding the outer part of the spindle, then turn the tap handle clockwise until it falls loose. Using a small screwdriver, remove the spindle O-ring and body washer.
  5. Now use the bucket of water to give the whole spindle a wash. You want to remove all the built-up grease and dirt so you can apply a clean lubricant.
  6. Take your spindle O-ring and roll it onto the spindle until it sits in its groove. Add tap lubricant and turn the tap handle anti-clockwise. Move the spindle as far as it will go up into the spindle outer. This step is very important before you put the tap back together as not doing so will cause the tap to leak.
  7. Place the new body washer on the base of the spindle and the new tap washer in the hole, then put the entire assembly back into the body of the tap. Screw clockwise and give the spindle a tighten with your shifter. Gently turn the tap handle clockwise to turn off the tap. Be careful not to over-tighten as this is the main cause of damage to tap washers. 
  8. Turn the water meter back on and test the tap.
  • Shifter
  • Pair of multi grips
  • Small screwdriver
  • Small brush such as a toothbrush
  • Bucket
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Tap washer
  • Spindle O-ring size 8 or 8.5
  • Body washer
  • Tap lubricant

Looking for a plumber in your area? RACV Trades has the right tradie for the job.
Explore RACV Trades →