How to fix a leaking tap –
Repairing a tap is pretty straight forward. However there are a few pointers you need to know before you get your hands dirty. Like anything with the right tools and knowledge anything is doable. I encourage you to read through this short guide to give you the guidance needed.
To start with you will need to do the following –
– Get a wide adjustable spanner, water pump pliers, flat head screwdriver and tank bungs ( I use – Regin rad valve change kit black bungs ). And of course you will need a new cartridge for your tap. If you have lost track of the make then best to remove the cartridge to identify it. Using google, plumbing forums and suppliers to identify the type specific to your tap.
Top Tip – whenever working with plumbing systems I always have a wet vac handy incase of uncontrollable leaks. This can be the difference between a damaged ceiling and managing to contain any water spills. Seriously these vacs and a big towel ready to hand can save you a lot of hassle.
Isolate your water supply –
There are a few variations of plumbing systems. All you need to do is identify which type you have. In Principle you will either have a “Gravity” fed or “Mains” fed water supply. In some cases you can also have a combination of both where the hot water is coming from your “Gravity fed hot water cylinder” and the cold water is “Mains” fed. This is commonly found in bathrooms although can cause issues if not installed with the correct control devices. In any case the same principles are applied. You can follow the step by step guide below which provides an easy to read summary of how to isolate your water supply.
Following which you can watch a video I have made as part of a series of self help videos to come.
For both “Gravity or Mains” fed systems.
There should be service isolation valves fitted in an accessible position directly below the terminal fittings or in this case basin taps. Simply turn the slotted part of the isolation valve horizontal to the pipework.
I must warn you that these kinds of valves are prone to leaks due to age and varying types and quality of the fitting. If you are unsure then best to leave them alone and move onto the next option.
Surprisingly this may seem hard to believe – in actual fact in a lot and even I dare say in most situations this can be my most favorable choice. Start by running the taps, with a prepared safe access to your “Cold water storage tank” usually located in the loft. And using a couple of bungs plug the open vent pipe and cold water water outlets to the cold water storage tank. Wait for the flow to stop on your hot and cold water at your basin tap and you are ready to “Rock’n Roll’.
Warning – if you have pumped hot water from a “Gravity fed Hot Water Cylinder” ensure you switch off the power to the pump before running the basin taps dry. And then remember to switch it back on. If you had to drain the whole “Cold water storage tank” you will need to allow the gravity water to flow through to where the supplies are pumped before switching the electric back on to the pump. AS YOU DO NOT WANT TO RUN A PUMP DRY !!
My least favourable as could cause other issues of which one of the most common would be the dreaded “AIR LOCK”.
Isolate your cold mains supply at your internal or external stop cock – whichever one works if they work and don’t leak. Run your basin taps – once the water stops i.e has completely drained from your cold water storage tank you are good to go.
Once repairs are complete re-establish your cold mains supply. If you are lucky and the air completely clears as the cold water storage tank is filling and resupplying water flow through to your taps. You can now crack a bottle of champagne and celebrate as you have managed to bypass a world of potential problems. And I would like to congratulate you and look forward to that drink if we ever cross paths !
I saved the most simple one for last.
Assuming you have no accessible, reliable or working isolation valves (Only God knows why they were invented and in so many situations are unusable) – on a “Mains” pressure system which would either be with an “Unvented Cylinder” or “Combination Boiler” the following will be handy to know.
Quite simply all you need to do is isolate the “Cold water mains supply” under the kitchen sink or using the outside stop cock – whichever is easier to access and use.
Prior to working on your taps be careful to let off the pressure from the basin taps and any other taps used to drain the system. Once the repair is complete close your basin taps before turning the water supply back on. This way you can easily and gently control by re-opening the taps to clear any air in the system. Once the air has spurted out and full flow re-established you are now in business.
Top Tip – if you have a black plastic circular cover where your water meter is located outside usually in the pathway – this indicates you have a newer isolation valve. The water board takes responsibility for fitting and maintaining them. There should be a black tee piece key which slots into the water meter valve isolation slot. If it is this type out of a few other ones – turn the tee piece clockwise until fully closed. You can confirm this by releasing the pressure from your kitchen sink taps. This is also useful to know if you have an uncontrollable leak and need to shut down your whole property’s water supplies.