Outside Tap Not Working

Outside Tap Not Working? Learn How to Fix Common Problems

Last updated on September 23rd, 2023

Having 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.

Here I’ll teach you the most common fixes for a repair on an outside tap that’s not working.

Causes of an Outside Tap Not Working

Outside Tap No Water Coming Out

If you have an outside 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 outside tap is open (in line with the pipe)
  • Turn the water off at the stopcock and remove the bib tap from the wall backplate and turn the water back on to see if it comes out of the backplate
    • If water comes out of the backplate then replace the washer in the tap, or replace the tap
    • If water does not come out of the backplate 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 check valve

Outside Tap Not Working After Freezing

An outside tap not working after a freezing winter will be caused by the double check valve becoming stuck or damaged.

This means you’ll need to clean or replace the double check valve, or the outside tap if it has a double check valve built in.

This is quite a simple process and is the most common cause of an outside 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 new build outside tap not working could be from freezing weather causing a check valve problem but could also be a blockage.

There might be debris or jointing compound paste inside the tap or maybe in another pipe fitting before getting to the outside tap 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.

How to Tell if Outside Tap Has Check Valve

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

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

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

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

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

The best outdoor tap will 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 a check valve 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 any debris out that might be causing problems.

Outside Tap Only Trickling

If you have an outside tap only trickling water out, it could be a damaged washer problem.

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 you have an outside tap with the water only trickling out.

Outside tap washer replacement YouTube video

Outside Tap No Pressure

An outside tap with no pressure is usually caused by a blockage or 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 outside tap kits that are used with small bore or flexible pipes.

Outside tap no pressure
Outside tap with no pressure

Outside Tap Won’t Turn Off

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

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

To shut the water off for now use the isolating valve (if you have one), usually inside the house on the other side of the wall where the outside tap that won’t turn off 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 ASAP.

How to replace an outside tap YouTube video

Outside Tap Not Straight

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


An outside 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 outside taps and will keep plumbers very busy.

If your outside tap has just frozen and it’s not working anymore, then it’s most likely caused by a check valve problem which will need to be fixed or replaced.

If you have a self-cutting valve supplying the outside tap then 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 found 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.

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10 thoughts on “Outside Tap Not Working? Learn How to Fix Common Problems”

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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..

  4. 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. 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.

  5. 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. 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.

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