Is Your Outside Tap Not Working? Here’s How To Fix It

A broken outside tap is a real bummer, especially in the summer. We’re in the peak of gardening season and the kids want to play in the sprinkler – but the outside tap isn’t working. Not only is this frustrating, but it can actually get in the way of important household chores.

If your outside tap is not working, In short, you’re looking for blockages of the pipes, rust or mineral buildup, a jam, or low water pressure.

Here’s a quick guide on how to troubleshoot a busted outdoor tap, how to try and fix it yourself, and information on when to call a professional. Keep reading for more information!

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Reasons Your Outside Tap Isn’t Working and How to Fix Them

There are a lot of reasons that your outdoor tap could stop working. Some of them are relatively easy to fix, while others will require the help of a plumber and a bit of time. Unfortunately, this is just a fact of life. Your tap is outside, which exposes it to more damage and weather. It’s also sadly true that pipes age and need to be replaced. Hopefully that’s not the issue, but we’ll see, won’t we?


Considering your tap uses pipes to get water from point A to B, it’s no surprise that they follow the same rules as the rest of your home’s plumbing. That is to say – pipes get blocked, minerals build up, and sometimes you need to clear the pipes.

Now, your first thought may be to hire a professional plumber, and you wouldn’t be entirely amiss there. However, there are other fixes that you can try first if you so please. If your outside tap isn’t working due to a blockage, consider using a water jet to clear the pipes. Now, as that link will show you – this requires a good bit of extra tools and know-how. But if you happen to have these things on hand – go for it!

Another potential fix to this could be simply replacing the tap. This will only work if the blockage is in the tap itself, rather than the pipes leading up to it. But if you’ve noticed a mineral buildup in the tap itself, this could solve your problem

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This is an incredibly common problem on outdoor taps as water and metal combined will create rust over time. This is especially bad in climates that are cold and wet, such as the UK. Something that is widely accepted by plumbers is that if you notice rust on the outside, it’s almost guaranteed there’s rust inside the pipes as well. This is a major problem if you want to be able to drink from the tap or water plants with it, among other things.

To deal with a rusty outdoor tap, there is really only one way to go – replace the tap, and any rusted pipes. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but rust is toxic and it will spread if not dealt with. If you’re noticing rust, call your plumber and get it dealt with quickly.

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Washer Corrosion

Another possible cause of an outside tap not working is the corrosion of your washers. This generally happens when you stop using it (such as over the winter) and it falls into disuse. This is the part that seals the tap and stops water from flowing – so if you’re using your tap for the first time this year and water isn’t coming out, look at your washer.

If it starts making a tapping or whistling noise, that’s a sign it’s struggling to let water out. The good news is this is an easy fix that doesn’t need a plumber. Simply buy a new washer and replace the damaged one. You can also buy a new tap here, but that’s less than ideal.

Jammed Valve

Outdoor taps generally use a one-way valve to control the flow of water. Cold weather can cause the metal to warp and expand/contract, making it jam. To prevent this, leave your tap open during freezing weather. If you didn’t do this or it happened anyway, here’s how to fix it.

You can either buy an insulation hood (or make one) to protect the valve or buy a double NRV (non-return valve) to fix this problem. The former can be jerry-rigged with foam or rubber, while the latter will simply make this problem less likely to occur.

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If you’re noticing leaks in your outdoor tap that’s not working, there’s a very clear sign something is wrong. The good news is that this is a very common problem. The bad news, however, is that you’ll need to manually find and patch the leak in your pipes.

The other, even less enjoyable option, is to fully replace your pipes and/or water source, depending on the leak. Both of these are situations in which I would highly recommend turning to a professional plumber for advice and help.

Low Pressure

This is likely caused by your main water source. If you simply have terrible water pressure but are still getting water, this is a likely reason. To deal with this, other than replacing the full water source, you’ll need some preventative steps.

Regularly check your water source to ensure it’s not low, and refill it when it does run low. If the main valve is closed or damaged, refer to the “valve” section above. Otherwise, you’ll need to speak to a plumber for help as this is a very involved process.

Other Taps in Your Home

If other taps in your home are working still, that’s a sign that something may be wrong with the outdoor tap itself. To determine if the issue is with your house plumbing or your outdoor tap, run each tap.

If only your outdoor tap isn’t working, it’s time to replace your whole tap. Nobody wants to hear it, but that’s likely the best way to fix the problem. If you don’t like that answer, feel free to speak to a professional and see if they can offer alternatives!

Final Thoughts

If your outdoor tap is not working, there are a lot of potential causes. By going through the list above, you’ll likely be able to figure out the problem, if not solve it. And just like most things in your home, it’s always good to take preventative measures to protect it, rather than wait for something to break.

As always, never feel ashamed of asking for help. Professional plumbers exist for this exact reason – so use them!