How to fix a leaking kitchen tap for less than RM20

How to fix leaking tap by replacing brass cartridge

A leaking kitchen tap could waste up to 10 litres of water per day. And while existing water tariffs in Malaysia are among one of the lowest in Southeast Asia (RM1.38 per 1000 litres), the rate may increase in the near future.

Costs aside, the complex infrastructure needed to produce clean drinking water is vulnerable to disruption. Klang Valley residents will remember all too well of the numerous water cuts that happened in 2020. So the lesson is; every drop counts, and we should fix leaks as soon as they appear.

Here’s how to fix a leaking of dripping kitchen tap in your home for less than RM20. This is the cost of the spare parts, and a set of tools that you may not already have in your home.

In the example below, the leak is dripping out the end of the tap, so the brass cartridge inside the tap needs to be replaced.

Leaking kitchen tap

This tap is a 90 degree type, with no hot and cold water mixer, so it’s a relatively easy fix.

STEP 1: Turn off the water at the stopcock under the sink

Turn off stopcock kitchen sink

If you can’t find the stopcock, then you should turn off the water at the mains.

STEP 2: Pry out the little chrome cap at the tap handle

Pry out the little chrome cap at the tap handle

Look around the underside of the handle. You should see a small round cap. Dig this out gently with a small screwdriver (the one you use for tightening spectacles).

NOTE: Remember to cover your kitchen sink drainholes before you dig out the small cap! If the little cap jumps out and falls into the drain, you will never see it again 🙂

STEP 3: Locate the tightening screw

Locate the tightening screw

Once the little cap has been removed, you will be able to see a tiny tightening screw inside. This is what is holding the faucet handle to the main stem. It’s also called a grub screw.

STEP 4: Loosen the grub screw with a hex or Allen key

Loosen the grub screw with a hex or Allen key
Loosen the grub screw with a hex or Allen key

In the image above, a 3mm diameter Allen key is used. If you have assembled any IKEA furniture, these Allen keys should be familiar to you. However, the small 3mm size of these keys may not be common. If you need to buy a set, they cost around RM10 from Shopee.

STEP 5: Remove the faucet cover

Remove the faucet cover

The faucet cover should be able to slide out, exposing the brass cartridge inside.

STEP 6: Loosen the brass cartridge

Loosen the brass cartridge

Use an adjustable wrench, and turn anti-clockwise to loosen. Remember to turn off the water at the mains, or else the cartridge will shoot out in a fountain of water.

STEP 7: Replace the cartridge with a new one

Replace the cartridge with a new one

As mentioned earlier, the brass cartridge used in this kitchen tap is a quarter-turn, cold water type. That means, you only need to turn the handle 90 degress to turn the water on. This cartridge is 43mm in length (your faucet may need a different type, so always take measurements).

You can buy replacement cartridges for less than RM10 at Shopee. They can also be found in Lazada.

For the tap in the example, it is installed on the right hand side. So, to turn on the water, you turn it 90 degrees anti-clockwise (or downwards).

STEP 8: Tighten the cartridge

Tighten the cartridge

Tighten the cartridge with a clockwise turn.

STEP 9: Replace the handle

Replace the handle

The grub screw should already be partially screwed in to prevent it from falling out as you slide the handle back on. Make sure you slide on the handle at the correct angle. That means, the handle should point upwards for the closed position, and turn 90 degrees towards you for the open position.

STEP 10: Tighten the grub screw

Tighten the grub screw

Use the same 3mm Allen key to tighten the grub screw.

STEP 11: Replace the cap

Replace the cap

You can just press the cap back on with your finger.

STEP 12: Turn on the water mains

Turn on the water mains

STEP 13: Leak fixed!

Leak fixed!

Congratulations! You DIY-ed your leaking tap and saved some money. In fact, the total cost of this repair would have costed you RM20 or less, to buy the spare part and the set of Allen keys.

Is your plumbing problem more complex?

If the leak does not go away, or you’re not sure what the problem is, then you may need help from a professional plumber in Malaysia.

You can book reliable and reviewed plumbers in Malaysia at Recommend.my. We have served over 5000 homes, and are rated an average 4.4 stars out of 5.

Once you make a booking, our plumbers will call you back within 2 hours to confirm your appointment. With reasonable rates and 14-day service warranty.

PS: You can buy the replacement cartridge shown in the tutorial above from Shopee. They can also be found in Lazada.

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