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Outside Tap Not Working

Outside Tap Not Working? Fix Common Problems

Last updated on April 12th, 2024

Your outside tap not working can be annoying, especially in the summer when you need your garden hose the most.

I have been a full-time plumber for over a decade and fixing and fitting outside taps is one of the main things I do in the summer.

No Water Coming Out of Tap

If you have an outdoor tap with no water coming out, you can:

  • Check the water supply is turned on at the stopcock
  • Make sure the isolating valve on the water supply pipe to the tap is open (in line with the pipe)
  • Turn the water off at the stopcock, remove the bib tap from the wall plate and turn the water back on to see if it comes out of the wall plate
    • If water comes out of the wall plate then replace the washer in the tap, or replace the tap
    • If water does not come out of the wall plate then it must be a water supply problem
  • Turn the water off at the stopcock and clean any debris out of the double check valve if you have a separate one on the pipe, or you can replace the valve

Tap Not Working After Freezing

A garden tap not working after a freezing winter will be caused by the check valve becoming stuck or damaged.

This means you’ll need to clean or replace the valve, or the garden tap if it has one built in.

This is quite a simple process and is the most common cause of a garden tap not working after freezing in the winter.

Fitting an outside tap cover for the winter will reduce the chances of your outdoor tap freezing.

New Build Outside Tap Not Working

A newly built house outdoor tap not working could be from freezing weather causing a check valve problem but could also be a blockage.

New build outside tap

There might be debris or jointing compound paste inside the tap, or maybe in another pipe fitting that was left on by the plumber who fitted it.

It could also not be piped up correctly, if it has been working before then you can rule this out.

Check Valve Problems

A check valve, similar to a non-return valve (NRV), is a valve to prevent backflow and water regulations say must be fitted on a garden tap installation. Water can only travel one way through it.

They can become blocked with debris or stuck, preventing the water from flowing through.

There are two places for a double check valve on a garden tap:

  • On the pipe inside the house
  • Built into the garden tap
how to tell if outside tap has check valve
Check valve access nuts

If you have a separate check valve on the water supply pipe, it should look like the brass valve on the left in the image above.

The best outdoor taps have a double check valve built in and have a little nut on the bottom as shown by the green arrow in the image above.

If there is no little nut on the bottom then you do not have one in your tap.

You can turn the water off and remove these brass nuts where the green arrows are with some water pump pliers and clean out any debris that might be causing problems.

Water Only Trickling Out

If you have a garden tap with the water only trickling out, it could be a damaged washer problem.

An outside tap washer replacement is quite simple most of the time, but it can be frustrating.

This should be the first thing to check when water is only trickling out.

Outside tap washer replacement YouTube video

No Pressure

A garden tap with no pressure is usually caused by a blockage or a kink in a flexible pipe and is typically a sign that the tap wasn’t fitted by a plumber.

This tends to happen on self-cutting outdoor tap kits that are used with small bore or flexible pipes.

Outside tap no pressure
Outdoor tap with no pressure

Tap Won’t Turn Off

If your garden tap won’t turn off then it’s probably a washer or damaged tap problem.

Unless you have the correct spare washers, you could buy a new outside bib tap and replace it, it’s a very simple job.

To shut the water off, use the isolating valve (if you have one), usually inside the house on the other side of the wall where the tap is.

If you don’t have an isolating valve, you’ll need to turn off the water at the main stopcock for the house. This will turn all the water in the house off so you best get it fixed quickly.

How to replace an outside tap YouTube video

Tap is Not Straight

A garden tap that’s not straight can be easily fixed by straightening it with an adjustable spanner.

If you have turned the tap as far as it will turn and it's not straight then you should remove the tap and add more PTFE tape.

Here’s how:

  1. Isolate the water supply to the tap
  2. Open the tap to release the pressure and water from the pipe
  3. Remove the tap by unscrewing it anticlockwise
  4. Wraps lots of PTFE tape around the threads on the tap (15 wraps or more if needed to get the tap straight)
  5. Screw the tap back into the wall plate until straight and stiff to turn
  6. Turn the water supply back on
Outside Tap Not Straight


A garden tap not working can be caused by many problems. A decent adjustable spanner is all that is needed to fix most problems.

A cold winter causes boiler condensate pipes to freeze as well as garden taps and will keep plumbers very busy.

If your tap is not working after freezing, then it's most likely a check valve problem which will need to be fixed or a new tap fitted.

If you have a self-cutting valve supplying the tap, it’s almost always because this is blocked, kinked or damaged.

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.


  • 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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13 thoughts on “Outside Tap Not Working? Fix Common Problems”

  1. Bobby Thomson

    Hi Steven. I fixed a leak on my out side tap, when I screwed the tap back into place the plastic wall plate split and came apart, I tried to remove the wall plate but it seems to be attached to the inner piping , any idea how to undo it.

      1. Bobby Thomson

        Hi Steven.
        Thanks for letting me know.
        Cheers Bobby

  2. Hi Steven

    My outside tap doesn’t seem to work. It has been this way since we moved into the property. I can’t find any valve under the sink to activate it. I have no idea what to do.

  3. Hello,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful article.
    My problem is the taps pressure drops when turned on full but half way is a bit better however last summer the pressure was so much better . Please help

  4. Rachael H

    Hi thankyou for sharing the above. I’ve no water coming through the outside tap and when I removed it to check the valve that seemed ok. However on turning the water back on there was nothing coming out of the open pipe. I can’t seem to find where it would be connected inside to possibly check the valves/washers..

  5. Chris Gallivan

    Hi great article same issue low water pressure and eventaully no flow at all a year later.so is the problem where the cutter cuts into the pipe and if so can you do anything about that ? Will try taking the tap off and ckeckng if any water flows through the open pipe .

    1. Steven Reid

      Hi Chris,
      The best thing to do would be get rid of the self cutting connection and use a proper tee piece if it’s causing problems.

  6. Hi Steven,
    Very helpful article, thank you.
    I replaced the outside tap, still no water!
    So the next thing to try is to replace the Double Check Valve?

    1. Steven Reid

      Hi James,
      Yes, if you have a separate double check valve then it could be that, or it could be the isolating valve if you have one.

      1. If an out side tap isn’t working could it cause a damp smell in the kitchen

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