Whether it is the constant dripping sound that keeps you up at night or the pool of water collecting below- a leaky tap is a nuisance. It has to be addressed properly and we often ask the plumber to do it. However, it is possible to do it yourself if you can handle the adjustable wrench without making a bigger mess of the problem. Here is an easy way to repair a leaky tap by pinpointing the actual cause of the leak and repairing it.
The basic solution
Shut off the water supply and remove the tap handle by unscrewing the small screw at the back of the handle. It may be hidden in a metal cap or difficult to budge- use penetrating oil to loosen it. After removing the handle, remove the packing nut with an adjustable wrench and twist out the spindle by turning in the same direction as the tap. Remove the screw of the washer. Replace the old washer with an exact new replica. Now replace all the components that you had removed. Turn the water supply on to see if the leak is still there.
Tap valve seat
If the leak is not fixed yet, the valve seat may be at fault. You can replace the entire tap. But a cheaper option is to replace the valve seat. Using a seat wrench, remove the old valve seat. Now using the same wrench, insert and fasten the new valve seat in its place. The replacement should be an exact copy to fit in the tap assembly correctly. You can also use a seat grinder to dress the tap valve. But be careful as you may shave away too much of the valve seat’s soft metal.
If the tap leaks water around the handle when the tap is running, the problem may lie with the tap's nut packing. To fix this, you need to install new packing. Remove the tap's packing nut. The string-like packing material has to be wrapped around the stem a few times and smear a light coat of petroleum jelly on the thread stem and threads of the packing nut. If the packing material is a soft wire, wrap it around the stem only once.
If the problem of the leak is not solved after all of the previous steps, try replacing the O-ring. The O-ring is incorporated in taps to prevent water from oozing out of the spout. To do this, first remove the handle and the packing nut. After that, tease the spout out of its socket by working it up and down. You will find the O-ring at the end of the spout; remove it. Now replace this old ring with a new one that is an exact duplicate. Reassemble the tap carefully. If you don't feel confident in your skills, you can always rely on a professional handyman.
During disassembling and reassembling of the tap, be very careful so as to not scar the metal. If all of these methods fail, don’t hesitate to finally give the plumber a call.