How to Repair Water Leakage From Outside of the Tap

Written by max stout
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How to Repair Water Leakage From Outside of the Tap
After repair, restore water pressure and allow tap to run to remove residues. (modern faucet and sink detail with running water image by nextrecord from

Leakage from the outside of a water tap indicates a seal failure from within the tap valve body or a crack in the body of the tap itself. For the latter, you must install a new replacement tap, but if the tap has no cracks, you need to replace the rubber washer seal and the packing seal. The packing seal surrounds the valve stem of the tap and prevents water from leaking to the outside of the tap. The doit -yourself homeowner can make the necessary repairs in about an hour with new seals and a few tools.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Flat-tip screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Soft cloth
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Safety pin
  • Tooth picks
  • Cotton swabs
  • New rubber washer seal
  • New rubber packing seal O-ring

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  1. 1

    Turn off the water supply to the leaking tap. Open the tap to relieve residual water pressure in the tap piping.

  2. 2

    Remove the decorative handle cap if applicable. Pry the existing cap off using the flat-tip screwdriver. This gives you access to the handle-retaining screw.

  3. 3

    Remove the tap handle screw by turning counterclockwise, using the appropriate tip screwdriver.

  4. 4

    Remove the tap handle by pulling it up and off from the water tap. If the handle resists, wrap a soft cloth around the flat-tip screwdriver and pry the handle up gently while wiggling it. The cloth will protect the tap finish from scratches.

  5. 5

    Remove the packing nut with the adjustable wrench. The packing nut surrounds the tap valve stem and has flat sides to accommodate removal and replacement. Turn the nut in a counterclockwise direction to remove.

  6. 6

    Remove the tap valve stem by turning counterclockwise until it is loose. Raise the stem up and out of the water tap.

  7. 7

    Remove the old O-ring packing seal from its recess on the stem. Pry the O-ring up with the tip of the flat screwdriver and then roll it off the handle end of the stem.

  8. 8

    Remove the rubber washer retaining screw at the bottom end of the stem. Turn the screw counterclockwise using the appropriate tip screwdriver.

  9. 9

    Remove the old rubber washer by pushing the point of a safety pin into the washer and lifting it from its recess.

  10. 10

    Clean both the recess for the packing O-ring and the washer recess using toothpicks and cotton swabs to remove existing sediment or residue.

  11. 11

    Install the new rubber washer in its recess and secure it with the retaining screw. Turn the screw in a clockwise direction to tighten.

  12. 12

    Place the new rubber O-ring onto the tap valve stem. Roll the O-ring over the handle end of the stem until it you seat it in its recess.

  13. 13

    Install the stem into the body of the tap and turn clockwise by hand until the stem becomes loosely seated.

  14. 14

    Install the packing nut over the tap stem and turn in a clockwise direction by hand until it is snug. Tighten the nut using the adjustable wrench.

  15. 15

    Place the tap handle onto the stem and secure it with the retaining screw. Turn the screw clockwise with the screwdriver until snug.

  16. 16

    Replace the decorative cap if applicable.

  17. 17

    Open the tap and restore water pressure. Allow the water to run through the tap for a few seconds to remove any sediment and air in the pipe.

  18. 18

    Close the tap and check for leaks.

Tips and warnings

  • Rubber seals and O-rings vary in size according to manufacturer. Save the old washers and rings for comparison at the hardware store, home centre or plumbing supply outlet.

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