Before undertaking domestic plumbing repairs, the mains tap must be turned off to cut the water to the house. Every building supplied with water in the community will have a mains tap.

This will need to be done when fixing taps, including replacing washers, repairing split pipes or broken pipe joints.


One of the most common water supply maintenance tasks is the repair of leaking or broken taps. A tap may require:
  • a new jumper washer because the tap leaks from its outlet
  • the washer seat to be smoothed because it has become pitted from use
  • a new O-ring because the tap leaks around the spindle (handle). However, some new types of taps do not have this O- ring and the tap will have to be replaced.
Fig.  6.40: Common domestic tap
Fig. 6.40: Common domestic tap

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The repair of split or broken pipes is another common area of water supply maintenance. This usually requires soldering or welding and/or the replacement of a piece of the pipe.

Leaks in toilet cisterns can be very wasteful of water. However, the repair of these items is covered in chapter 2 - sewage systems (Section 5).
For further information refer to: Environmental Health Practitioners are encouraged to refer to the “Community Water Planner Field Guide” developed by the Centre for Appropriate Technologies (CAT) under guidance from Water Quality Research Australia. (

EHPs should also be aware of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)’s Australian Drinking Water Guidelines which provide advice on what is good quality drinking water. The Australian Drinking Water Guidelines can be found at the NHMRC website. (