Outside Tap Leaking

How to Fix an Outside Tap Leaking Water: A Simple Help Guide

Last updated on April 12th, 2024

An outside tap leaking water can be fixed most of the time, but sometimes it needs to be replaced.

If your outside tap is not working, you need to verify if it’s the tap or the water supply to the tap.

I have been plumbing full-time for over a decade and have fixed many tap leaks in that time.

Leaking From Connector

A leak from the hose connector can usually be fixed in one of three ways:

  • Tighten the hose connector
  • Replace the hose connector washer
  • Replace the hose connector

If it’s leaking when the hose is attached, it is a hose or connector problem, not the tap.

Leaking From Stem

A tap leaking from the stem on the top of the tap can be fixed by tightening the gland nut with an adjustable spanner.

Outside tap gland nut leaking
Tightening gland nut

If this doesn’t fix the leak, you can try adding some PTFE tape.

Here’s how:

  1. Turn off the water supply
  2. Unscrew the gland nut at the bottom of the spindle with an adjustable spanner
  3. Add some PTFE tape or jointing compound to the thread
  4. Refit the gland nut
  5. Turn the water back on
  6. Test for leaks

Dripping From the Spout

Outside tap washer replacement
Washer replacement

A tap that’s dripping water from the spout can usually be fixed by replacing the washer.

How to change an outside tap washer:

  1. Turn off the water supply
  2. Unscrew the larger nut (under the smaller spindle nut) with an adjustable spanner
  3. Replace the washer on the end of the tap valve
  4. Refit the tap valve with the new washer on
  5. Turn the water back on
  6. Test for dripping
How to replace an outside tap washer YouTube video

Replacing the Tap

Replacing an outside tap is sometimes the best option, even if you just need to replace the washer.

Finding the right size washers can be almost impossible sometimes and even then it might not fix the leak.

Sometimes it is best to buy a new bib tap and replace it to save time and headaches.

How to replace an outdoor tap:

  1. Turn off the water supply
  2. Unscrew the tap out of the wall plate by turning it anti-clockwise with an adjustable spanner
  3. Add some PTFE tape around the threads
  4. Refit the tap into the wall plate
  5. Turn the water back on
  6. Test for leaks

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Leaking outside taps can be annoying but fixing and replacing them is easy most the the time.

Tighten any connections with an adjustable spanner to stop the dripping and if that doesn't work then replacing the tap or hose connector should do the trick.

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below and I’ll try my best to help.

Please share this post if you find it helpful.


Where is the shut-off valve for outside tap?

The shut-off valve, or isolating valve, for an outside tap, is usually next to where the water supply pipe is going through the wall to outdoors.

Garden taps should have a shut-off valve but not all do. If you don’t have one, you will need to turn the water off at the stopcock in the house, or even the one in the street.

What size washer do I need for an outside tap?

A standard garden tap, with half-inch thread (pictured below), has a washer size of 20mm diameter with a 5mm hole in the centre and is 3mm thick.

Outside tap washer size

Should I worry about a dripping outside tap?

A dripping outdoor tap is not going to cause major problems but it could cost a few quid over the years in water charges if you’re on a water meter.

It should be fixed as soon as possible but it’s nothing to worry about, especially if it’s dripping into a drain.


  • Steven Reid

    I am a full-time plumber and Gas Safe registered engineer. I incorporated Housewarm Ltd. in 2011 to provide heating and plumbing services to homes in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. I now blog about what I've learned over the years to help DIYers and plumbers.

    View all posts
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6 thoughts on “How to Fix an Outside Tap Leaking Water: A Simple Help Guide”

  1. Caroline Cooper

    I have just bought a replacement watering system that goes onto the tap.
    When I set the system and turn on the tap to water later it starts to leak.
    I need to leave the tap turned on ready for the timer, what can you suggest.

  2. Stephen Punter

    Hi there my outside tap does not work it was working last year I have taken the tap completely off and it still doesn’t work

    1. Steven Reid

      Hi Stephen,
      If there’s no water coming from the backplate after removing the tap, it must be a problem with the water supply pipe.

      It could be the isolating valve (if you have one), make sure it’s open (inline with the pipe) but it could be broken and need to be replaced.

      Or it might be the check valve (if you have a separate one), you might need to replace it.

      It could also be a blockage, or a kink in a flexible pipe.

      1. Pam Young

        I’ve got the same problem switched tap of inside house as it leaked. Went to replace the tap no water coming out when tap off back plate

  3. Donna simpson

    My outside tap is not working but I have no tap on the inside to see if it’s been knocked off

    1. Steven Reid

      You might not have one, you need to check the full length of the pipe from the tap to the water supply connection.

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